Set in the 16th century, this is a story about Ukraine’s Cossack warriors and their campaign to defend their lands from the advancing Polish armies.



“The Conqueror” remains true to Gogol’s 1842 edition of the novel and to history. The Cossack’s repeated words of praise for the Russian Land and Orthodox Christianity can be found in the manuscript. The political situation at the end of the XVI century in Ukraine was that it’s cultural and religious life was being tarnished and oppressed by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Rzeczpospolita. The Zaporizhian Cossacks were frequently involved in violent clashes with the Poles, which lasted well into the XVII century, until Ukraine requested Russian military assistance to finally defeat Poland and force it towards diplomacy. Interestingly, the Cossacks considered themselves independent from any nation, be it Russia or Ukraine, and they did not recognise the sovereignty of either ruler.

Bortko deserves praise for his solid work which reminded me about those soviet times when such masters as Gerasimov or Romm created their epics. This movie is about tremendously difficult choice between different values, between devotion to motherland and love for a woman, between traditional values of Russian people and values of west though in this movie we see how allegedly enlightened polish gentry regarding itself as beings of higher order than cossacks executes cossacks in the most cruel way.

The DVD comes with no special features, but you get an interesting foreign historical epic in Region 1. The A/V Quality is pretty sharp, but a lot of the dialogue is ran together. Thankfully, we’ve got subtitles to help the American audience make their way through the picture. I don’t get why we couldn’t get an original trailer or any background material on Taras Bulba. Oh well, I’d still recommend a rental.



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