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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Epic > Russian Revolution > Romance > Literature > Action > The Conqueror (2009/E1 DVD)

The Conqueror (2009/E1DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: B



Nikolai Gogol’s book Taras Bulba paints a romanticized picture of heroic Cossack (the title character) seeking vengeance on the marauding Polish warriors who took his son and slew his wife.  Already the subject of several films before (most notably 1962’s Taras Bulba with Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis), The Conqueror brings a modern sensibility to the story.  Filmed and produced in Russian, the English subtitles do little to sap the energy from writer/director Vladimir Bortko’s breakneck adaptation of the Gogol classic.  Originally released in Russia as “Taras Bulba,” it was retitled The Conqueror to avoid confusion with the 1962 film. 


Bortko’s version features stunning battle sequences and a riveting performance by Bogdan Stupka in the title role.  Although graphically violent, the battle scenes display an artful staging and film-craft that would be the envy of some Hollywood studios. All of the action should not overshadow the cultural and political messages in the film, as many Ukrainian critics have argued that Bortko’s purpose in the film is to assert that no difference exists between Russia and the Ukraine. 


No matter the political aspects of the film, fans of period action pieces will find The Conqueror a rousing successor to the 1962 Taras Bulba film.  The film ultimately inspires by showing that one man can arouse his fellows to action for a greater cause.  The price ultimately paid for this is a grave one, but a legacy of freedom for the Cossack people meant that Taras Bulba would not suffer in vain.



-   Scott Pyle


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