|King Jan Sobieski and his Hussars present themselves at the Imperial Court|
An Italian-Polish production, Day of the Siege: September 11, 1683 dramatizes the months leading up to the fateful Battle of Vienna, when the Ottoman Turks were defeated by the leadership and courage of the Polish King, Jan Sobieski. While much of the story is told from the point of view of the Ottoman vizier Kara Mustafa, commander of the Turkish forces, the main character is indubitably Blessed Marco d'Aviano, portrayed with fire and gentleness by F. Murray Abraham. Father Marco, whom most people may not have heard of, was truly the spiritual adviser of Emperor Leopold I, as shown in the film. The Capuchin friar did in actuality play a part in the defense of Vienna by rallying the Christian forces and encouraging them to unite against the Ottomans. The Turks, who threatened to conquer Rome and all of Europe if once the Empire fell into their hands, vastly outnumbered the armies of the Holy League. Europe would have fallen had it not been for the unflinching faith and tactical skill of Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, whose hussars carried the image of the Black Madonna into battle.
The King is magnificently played by Polish actor Jerzy Skolimowski who fills the screen and dominates every scene that he is in, leaving no doubt about the greatness of the character who is being brought to life. I wish he could have been given more screen time. I also wanted to see more of Emperor Leopold and his family, especially his sister Eleanor of Austria, whose husband Charles of Lorraine figures prominently in the battle. I did not care for the subplot about the renegade Turk who betrays his Christian wife; it seemed to take away from the genuine historical characters. That and other strange twists in the plot keep it from being the great epic film it might have been in better directorial hands. But seeing the Polish cavalry charge down the mountain definitely makes Day of the Siege worth a watch.
|Jerzy Skolimowski as Jan Sobieski|
|Antonio Cupo and Alicja Bachleda as Charles of Lorraine and Eleanor of Austria|
|F. Murray Abraham as Blessed Marco d'Aviano|