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Plot: In the 16th century Ukraine, the Polish overlords and the Cossacks fight for control of the land but frequent Turkish invasions force them to unite against the common Turkish foe. Runtime: 122 mins Release Date: 19 Dec 1962
Taras Bulba is a movie about the Ukrainian Cossacks and not Russian Cossacks! The Ukrainian land was independent and not part of Czarist Russia in the 16th century, the time the movie portrays. Taras Bulba shows the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian Cossacks fighting to defend Ukraine form their enemies. My favorite part of the movie was when young Andrij Bulba asks his father Taras Bulba why the Ukrainian Cossacks did not wear armor like the Poles. Taras showed his son a cross around his neck and told his son that that is the Ukrainian Cossacks armor. It is a movie about the best European <more>
fighters of that era and is a very fun and exciting movie.
I love this movie. The theme song called the Wishing Star by Waxman caps it all off. I think it one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. The mass cavalry charges set in Argentina will never be repeated again. Similar scene are shown in the Soviet films War and Peace and Waterloo, both made around 1968. Christine Kaufmann is very beautiful and her later husband, Tony Curtis also as beautiful. Yul Brynner of course plays these sorts of parts with Aplomb. The only other actor I could think of is Kirk Douglas. Then again, they were always similar in these epic roles, weren't <more>
they. They just don't make movies like this any more.
They don't make 'em like this anymore! (by azcowboysingr)
I first saw Taras Bulba when it was a theatrical release, & then again on TV once...it is one of those films that, once seen, can never be forgotten. From the thrilling theme music to the haunting love score, the musical director proved himself the equal of MGM's Korngold. The visual impact of the sweeping granduer of the Argentine pampas substituting for the Russian Steppes...remember, this film was made back when the Communists would not allow Americans behind the Iron Curtain to make "decadent Capitalist" movies . To my dying day, I will never forget those scenes of <more>
thousands of Cossacks no CGI...it hadn't been invented yet...there really were 1,000's of actors on horseback! charging at full gallop, brandishing cavalry sabers & yelling "ZAPAROSTI!" at the top of their lungs.Tony Curtis would not have been my first choice to cast as the son of a Cossack Chieftain a fine actor but way too skinny . Ahhh...but Yul Brynner...what a magnificent stroke of casting genius! If Brynner wasn't a real Gypsy Prince, he should've been. The scene in which Taras must kill his own son for betraying the Cossack Brotherhood to the enemy over the love of a woman is one of the most powerful and sobering on film. The dialogue, while perhaps a bit "corny" to modern teenagers, strikes an honest chord with those of us who grew up believing that honor & courage are still something that men should strive to protect...with their lives if necessary. When one of the drunken Cossacks calls Curtis' character "a coward", precipitating a deadly horse race across a huge crevasse that means certain death to one of them, Brynner's wife begs Taras to call off the contest, saying "It was only a word!" Brynner calmly and a bit sadly replies, "Some words are worth dying over."All in all, I rate this film 9 out of 10. If it has one flaw, it would be expecting the audience to believe that a wimpy little guy like Tony Curtis could successfully compete in a contest of strength with someone as muscular & solidly built as Yul Brynner. That part really needed someone like Steve Reeves, or Gordon Scott...even Aldo Ray would've been a better choice as Taras' son. If you haven't seen this classic movie, I urge you to do so as soon as possible...even on late night TV if necessary, commercials & all.
Amazing such a subject made by Hollywood! (by necrodemion)
That this classic novel by Gogol about the legendary Ukrainian cossack hero could have been made into a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, and that this was done at the very height of the cold war seems unbelievable today.While the film is dated a bit by the kitschy love story involving Tony Curtis' character, Yul Brynner is perfect in his role which seems one of those he was born to play.A colourful and spectacular historical epic in the best of the then-dying old Hollywood tradition, this is probably the only exposure that the American public at large has to Ukrainian history, and in <more>
this alone it is a valuable work. But the film manages to succeed on the entertainment level as well, and I recommend it to all fans of the good ol' Hollywood studio historical drama.
How does one choose between the life of a person you love and your father, your family, your nation? The moral dilemma presented in "Taras Bulba" would be a tough sell in any era, but particularly in "last year of the 50s" "American Graffitti" . Producer Ben Hecht, screenwriter and director J. Lee Thompson pull no punches. However, one can only wonder how great a film "Taras Bulba" would have been if directed by, say, David Lean and the love story expanded. As it stands, the movie is wildly uneven. The Kiev sequences tend to bog down the movie; while, <more>
at the same time the romantic scenes play too quickly for dramatic impact. Curtis' well publicized adulterous affair with actress Christine Kaufman certainly didn't help box office; and, it seems the screen careers of both Curtis and Yul Brynner were permanently damaged, as both went into decline after "Taras Bulba". Sad and ironical, since Curtis recently revealed he was legally separated from wife Janet Leigh for over a year before embarking on "Taras Bulba" and his liaison with Kaufman ; and, in any event, adulterous marriage breakups certainly didn't hurt Liz Taylor. It's all a pity, because "Taras Bulba" is an exciting, profound movie, the kind we are most used to seeing recently from China "Hero," "House of Flying Daggers," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" . Director J. Lee Thompson "The Guns of Navarone" makes excellent use of the widescreen process, filling the entire frame with action. I say this, seeing only the full screen version, since it is clear from what remains there was plenty to fill the screen, while key action was wisely staged center screen.Curtis is effective in the difficult role of Andre, Taras Bulba's son. However, Yul Brynner is phenomenal as Taras Bulba. Too bad he's not on screen more. Christine Kaufman is decorative, but her scenes with Curtis are too meager to be truly effective.One hopes a widescreen DVD soon becomes available; or, at least, Turner or ENCORE ACTION shows the movie in letterbox. The version I previewed on FLIX showed some signs of damage. Flawed or not, "Taras Bulba" is well worth an "8" on my scale of 10.
"Ride Like A Cossack, Fight Like A Cossack" (by bkoganbing)
Although the famous Nikolai Gogol novel, Taras Bulba, was filmed many times, this version starring Tony Curtis and Yul Brynner is the best known at least in the USA. It's an exciting portrait of 16th century Ukraine under the then powerful kingdom of Poland. What's strangely muted in this version though is the religious angle. The Poles are Roman Catholic and the Ukranians are Russian Orthodox, it's a very big part of the reason for the resentments shown here yet we never see the religious beliefs portrayed for either group. Not sure why the script didn't include it.As rulers <more>
the Poles hire out the Cossack Ukranians who in today's terminology might be considered a paramilitary outfit to fight off the Ottoman Turks and then turn on them. Yul Brynner as one of the Cossack brigade commanders lops off the right hand of Guy Rolfe, the Polish prince in retribution, but that hardly satisfies. He goes back to the steppes of the Ukraine and awaits a time for some real payback.In the meantime he fathers two sons, Tony Curtis and Perry Lopez, who both inherit their father's geopolitical views. Brynner sends them off to school in Poland to learn all the Poles know.While there Curtis falls in love with a Polish princess Christine Kauffman. It's the beginning of his downfall as a Cossack.In his memoirs Tony Curtis says that Yul Brynner was a strangely aloof character with a sort of self imposed grandeur about him in his manner. But that Taras Bulba was a part he was born to play. I certainly can't visualize anyone else in the role, including Burt Lancaster who originally had the screen rights then gave them to Tony Curtis when he couldn't do the film. Of course Brynner being in the title role might have had some resentments to being second billed to Curtis, but Curtis in fact as a co-producer and he who produces decides billing.Curtis also mentions that on the Argentine pampas location away from American laws, the long banned 'flying W' was used in the filming of the battle and charge scenes and many horses were killed. He also mentions that with production overrun costs and accountants ripping him and the film company off what started as a three million dollar film became a nine million dollar film and Taras Bulba in theatrical release barely cleared ten million.However Tony did get a second wife out of the film. Christine Kauffman became the second Mrs. Tony Curtis after the film. Curtis says that Christine did not break him and Janet Leigh up, that things were over before he met here, still that was the common gossip back in the day.Director J. Lee Thompson made great use of the Argentine pampas standing in for the Ukraine steppes and one does get a feel for the Cossack love of the land the freedom of the wide open spaces. Cossack stories in the Ukraine are just like our American westerns. Those people for all their faults settled and conquered much of what is now Russian Federation.As a bonus Franz Waxman's musical score which did earn Taras Bulba it's only Academy Award nomination is really quite rousing. We get to hear Yul Brynner sing in this film which is a treat, a Cossack drinking song. And the love theme for Curtis and Kauffman, The Wishing Star, is a very beautiful song that Tony Martin put on an album of film songs he did at the time.Ukranian Americans loved this particular film for which I can personally attest. I think others will as well.