Thursday, May 21, 2015

Muskets at the Movies: Black powder battle on film - Part Two

5. With Fire & Sword

I have no idea if this is representative of 17th century Eastern European conflict - but the scenes with the winged hussars were breath taking.  I always thought the winged hussars looked rather silly, but actually seeing them in the flesh making it clear just how intimidating these fellows were.   I have been unable to find a full version of this film with subtitles, but I would quite like to see the whole thing. The film is based on a novel Henryk Sienkiewicz, who so far as I can tell was Poland's answer to Sir Walter Scott. I have it on my kindle, but it's in the queue with Mor Jokai and some of the Russians.

6. Ride with the Devil

Now Ride with the Devil is a film about the Kansas-Missouri war during the American Civil War.  It was a bloody guerrilla conflict that was intimate as it was brutal with Confederate partisans called "Bushwackers" fighting with pro-Union "Jayhawkers". The battles portrayed in it are skirmishes, but they seem to convey the frantic nature of the fight in a way I've rarely seen captured on film. Jonathan Rhys Myers is particularly good as fanatic partisan.

Compelling stuff.

7. Last of the Mohicans.

This is one of the first films I ever saw in the cinema on my own.  It was a revelation when I was small and I went to see it several times in the cinema.  I with some friends that I played Warhammer Fantasy Battle and we argued all the way home on the bus home about the volumes of smoke produced by the cannon.  I had been lobbying for the introduction of smoke rules (culled from Featherstone's Complete Wargaming) into WFB to make our battles more "realistic".

The folly of youth.

The siege in particular was very impressive. The regulars get a pretty bum deal in the movie as a whole.  Hans Zimmers score is fantastic. 


  1. Some interesting snippets, I have promised myself to look up With Fire and Sword a few times and never had. I was a well versed 18thC gamer when I went to see LotM and thoroughly loved the film treatment of the military aspect of the book. As wargamers we expect far too much from what is an entertainment medium, I still watch the film at least once a year and never feel let down by it. Of course Madeline Stowe and Co. are rather pleasing to the eye which might help ;-)

  2. Fire & Sword has been a favorite since childhood thanks to Classic Comics as has Last of the Mohicans. Hoffmans movie version actually follows the book for once and does the book honour. Good acting helps and my favorite character, Pan Zagloba now has a face. Can't read or see the death of Boramir without thinking of Pan Longin. The next 2 movies are also good, but not as good despite the presence of the Swedes, as a book the Deluge also seemed to drag or repeat a bit in places but still good reads.

    The Mohican movie is a real love hate thing, if it had a different name I would love it but it butchers and twists the story and characters so badly, aborting all the other books in the series both previous ones and sequels that I fret and fume each time.

    Anyway my copy if the polish trilogy, with subtitles, came from Pole art if its still around.

  3. I am pleased to see "Ride with the Devil" here as it is a film I have watched quite a few times on dvd.I agree with you that it depicts that kind of battle very well indeed.
    I really must get round to buying /watching WF&S your clip looks amazing!
    Do you know 1612? It is well worth a view too if your tastes include renaissance Russians etc.
    Finally are you watching 1864?

  4. It does exist:

  5. Excellent blog post (and the previous one too)- I really must find a copy of 'Ride With the Devil' now.

    Looking forward to the conclusion.



  6. Great selection, I didn't know With Fire & Sword, I'll have to get it! Ride with the Devil is a marvelous movie.

  7. Wow! I never expected to see the name of Jókai Mór, the Hungarian writer in a list of a wargamer, who is not Hungarian. What a great suprise! Thanks. I just did a search on Amazon, and now I see how many of his books is actually translated to English. His book: The Baron's Sons: A Romance of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, is very-very popular in Hungary, we have a movie version from 1964. This movie is like the Zulu for the British, once a year 15th of March, you can see on TV. :) The battle scenes are not very professional, but for me as a kid was enough to give a lifelong inspiration as a military history buf. :D

  8. I have only just discovered that there is a director's extended cut version of Last of the Mohicans. One of its extra scenes is a great musketry engagement at the fort while the dispatch messenger to Fort Edward tries to break clear. You can see it here: