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Russian Thirteenth Century Tale of Princes, Boyars and God's Own Fool
on 11 May 2012
This is a Russian take on part of the life of Alexander Yaroslavich Prince of all Novgorod set in the 1240's and played by Anton Pampushny. He faces evil enemies on all sides he has Eric King of Sweden with his Crusader Knights wanting to force the Church of Rome onto the Orthodox Novgoroddians, the Germans who want a land grab and some religious conversion would be nice, and the Tartars who apart from selling their sauce also want tribute in return for not being enslaved.
Problem is he also has some scheming Boyars in his own midst who for their own selfish gain are willing to sell out their Prince. His best friend Ratmir (Igor Botvin) is making eyes at the new princess and he increasingly feels isolated. But according to the blurb `his power was that of Samson and his wisdom that of Solomon'. Well we are going to have to take their word for that as he doesn't get to push over a temple of threaten a baby with dissection, but he is rather handy in a scuffle and he knows how to play a player and so the fun begins.
This is a really good story and is not half bad, but the problem seems to be down to cash or rather the lack of it, some of the scenes could have done with some judicious editing and the extras could have been more plentiful especially in the battle scenes where some clever camera angles are often used to make up for lack of background animation, but not here.
The acting is all above average though no-one was writing an award acceptance speech during post production and there was a fair amount of character development and some on screen chemistry but it is all not developed enough, we just sort of are asked to accept the situation is as portrayed on screen. The music sounded almost 1950's B movie at one point but sort of pulls it back and we have a host of supporting characters from bad hair minstrels, dwarves who fight over a chicken, a village idiot related to God and some severely bad mullets.
This still ain't a bad effort and kept me entertained for the most part, only a couple of scenes were annoying and it was just 110 minutes and we all know some Russian films tend to stretch the point a bit and out stay their welcome, this for the most part did not. Director Igor Kalynov has made the most out of what he had to work with and if you like an historical tale with a couple of fights thrown in then this may for you.