Directed by: Viktor Tourjansky, Giorgio Venturini
Actors: Edmund Purdom, John Drew Barrymore, Giorgia Moll
Country: Italy | France
Also known as: Kasakat, The Cossacks
It’s the mid-1800s, and Russia is expanding southeastwards into the lands of the Chechen individuals. Jemal, son of Shamil the Chechen frontrunner, is sent to Saint Petersburg as a hostage and guarantee of a temporary peace treaty. While here, Jemal sees the energy of Russia and falls in love with a Russian girl. When Shamil wants to make war again for the freedom of his individuals, his boy is torn between old household loyalties and his understanding that his father’s nation cannot stand against the power of a country prepared with modern hands.
This could be managed as a simple struggle-against-oppression soap opera, but information technology isn’t. Both edges are shown with nuances of sensitivity completely unexpected in this sort of movie. In an especially effective scene, the Chechen artillery bombards the Russian army’s camp as the soldiers are celebrating mass. As the shells burst among the bugles and troops call them to arms, a soldier is hit and falls to the ground. In a moment that speaks for all the faceless warriors that have actually dropped in countless war movies, the dying soldier speaks to a priest keeping him, “Father! we can’t die. I have kids…” A moment of humanity deeper than that shown by many more celebrated (and pretentious?) movies!
This movie is also interesting for its depiction of the Russian promotions in Central Asia in the 1850s. The Russian soldiers in their white tunics are straight out of the paintings of Vereshchagin, the famous war artist, and the Chechen warriors (the “Cossacks” of the film’s title) look realistic in their lengthy coats with bullets tucked in holders sewed to their pockets. Shamil had been a real individual, and it is still a hero to the individuals of Chechnaya. He ultimately made serenity with the Russians whenever he saw that his struggle had been condemned to failure.
we saw this movie some twenty many years ago on late-night television, but it has stayed with me due to its rare topic and its unusual sense and humanity of fair play to the sides portrayed in the drama it shows.