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Carl Goff




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 1:00 am    Post subject: Obscure bits of history that would make great movies...         Reply with quote

There are plenty of poorly known battles and campaigns that could be epic movies. I can think of three off the top of my head:

1. The Siege of Vienna, where the Austrians and their allies stopped the Ottoman Empire from expanding any further into Europe. Just adapt Robert E. Howard's short story The Shadow of the Vulture, fix any of his historical inaccuracies, prevent Hollywood from adding others, and you have an excellent movie version of the siege.

2. The Mongol invasion of the Middle East by Hulagu Khan (one of Genghis Khan's grandsons) in the mid-1200s: The destruction of Alamut and most of the Hashishin (the Assassins) who dwelt in that fortress. The siege and destruction of Baghdad, where the rivers ran red with the blood of slaughtered innocents and black with the ink from the books and scrolls taken from the Great Library and hurled into the water. And then finally you have the Battle of Ain Jalut, when Sultan Saif ad-Din Qutuz of Egypt stopped the Mongol hordes, saved the Middle East (and quite possibly Europe as well) from becoming Mongol provinces...and was promptly murdered in a coup d'etat on his way home from the battle.

3. The Battle of Clontarf: The Irish beat the Norsemen occupying Dublin and their local collaborators in a brutal struggle that lasted from sunrise to sunset. Again, there's a Robert E. Howard short story about this that would make a very good framework to start from.[/i]

Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf, your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf and now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the coasts of Spain fling shadows on the Eastern strand.
Master, your slave has come again with torch and axe in his right hand!
-Robert E. Howard
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 5:28 am    Post subject: Obscure bits of history that would make great movies...         Reply with quote

Among those three, I think the Battle of Clontarf should be made into a movie.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 5:31 am    Post subject: Life of Donald McBane         Reply with quote

Its been kicking around the halls of WMA for at least 20 years but the life of Donald McBane (1664–c.1730) - (from Wiki)-Born in Inverness, Donald joined the British Army, fought in the Highlands and in Europe where he opened a number of fencing schools. Donald later wrote a book on his extensive experience in swordsmanship and his life in the army.

Wrote: Expert Swords-man's Companion - Donald McBane (1728)

His life reads like a great adventure. While fencing schools where what they called them they also provided gambling, dueling instruction and prostitutes. The fencing masters often dueling for the girls to keep in their establishments. He was lost behind enemy lines more than once and at one point had to escape after being left naked in a ditch. Kind of stuff almost every swashbuckling fiction is made of and this guy lived it.

Craig
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 6:07 am    Post subject: Re: Obscure bits of history that would make great movies...         Reply with quote

Carl Goff wrote:
...fix any of his historical inaccuracies, prevent Hollywood from adding others...


That might just be a teeny problem...
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Kuo Xie




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I feel like the Battin of Hattin was a huge wasted opportunity for movies in recent years. We've had two films that cover those events – Kingdom of Heaven and Arn: Knight Templar – but neither one did justice to the battle and the politics surrounding it. A Christian army betrayed by petty politics, surrounded and besieged in the burning desert, within sight of fresh water. The Muslim besiegers setting fire to the surrounding brush and pouring full waterskins into the sand to taunt their enemies. Cohesion and discipline breaking down in the Christian camp. Multiple heavy cavalry charges against the surrounding forces, trying to make decisive contact that is denied by the fleet-footed Muslim horse. The final desperate attempts to overrun Saladin's position which almost succeeded, until being surrounded and cut to pieces. That's cinema people! But in Arn we get a shortened version that's light on the details, while Kingdom of Heaven skips over the battle entirely. Sadly, with two big budget Crusades movies having already been made, I doubt we'll see another attempt at telling that story.

Quote:
2. The Mongol invasion of the Middle East by Hulagu Khan (one of Genghis Khan's grandsons) in the mid-1200s: The destruction of Alamut and most of the Hashishin (the Assassins) who dwelt in that fortress. The siege and destruction of Baghdad, where the rivers ran red with the blood of slaughtered innocents and black with the ink from the books and scrolls taken from the Great Library and hurled into the water. And then finally you have the Battle of Ain Jalut, when Sultan Saif ad-Din Qutuz of Egypt stopped the Mongol hordes, saved the Middle East (and quite possibly Europe as well) from becoming Mongol provinces...and was promptly murdered in a coup d'etat on his way home from the battle.


I like this idea as well, the destruction of Baghdad especially. The story of the fall of the golden age of Islam isn't widely known in our culture. The Mongols destroyed Baghdad so badly that it went from a world center of culture and learning to a ghost town, and they razed the surrounding irrigation works so the city could never recover. You can draw a direct line of causation between the Mongol sack of Baghdad and the broken Baghdad of the present day. It would be instructive for Western audiences to show that the Iraq we're so used to seeing on the news wasn't always this way.


Last edited by Kuo Xie on Mon 18 May, 2015 7:47 am; edited 2 times in total
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Luke Adams




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was recently thinking how the recent Jackie Chan movie Dragon Blade was a really cool idea for a film. I haven't seen it yet, but I find it very interesting that they focused on such an obscure event (i.e. the interactions between the Roman Empire and the newly formed Han Dynasty).
"God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them."
- German proverb
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think any of those events mentioned are actually obscure. Not being well known in the anglophone pop culture universe is not the same thing as being obscure, those are famous and pivotal events in world history.




As far as the Crusades, I'm a bit bored with Hattin (it's fairly predictable and it's been done, albiet badly). The Crusades within Europe have basically never, as far as I'm aware, shown up in Western cinema, but they are fascinating events, on at least as large of a scale as the Crusades everyone thinks of in the Levant, did more damage and probably had a lot more importance to European history.

The biggest or at least most famous single battle, arguably (roughly equivalent to Hattin) would be toward the end of the Northern Crusades, at the battle of Grunwald / Tannenburg. Tens of thousands of German and west-European Crusaders vs . tens of thousands of Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, and even some Mongols.

Every year they stage a large re-enactment of this battle in an event at Malbork castle, the gigantic three level stronghold of the Teutonic Knights (which still exists today in Poland). You already have hundreds of re-enactors who already have the horses, well researched period-accurate (and good looking) kit, know how to ride and act like they are fighting and so on. It's a natural.





What makes this event so fascinating is that it was a struggle between two of the mightiest military - religious Orders (the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Knights) against the pagan Lithuanians, the last non-Christian people in Europe, with the further nuance of the Poles, annoyed by constant aggression from their neighbors in the Teutonic Order, establishing complex legal precedents in Imperial and Vatican courts which allowed them to make a military alliance with the Lithuanians which would ultimately lead to the merger of the two nations into one of the mightiest military powers Europe ever saw. And in the shorter term of course breaking the back of the Teutonic Knights this forever changing the culture and history of north east Europe.

The Poles did an interesting though flawed film about all this in the early 1960's (Communist era). I like this film though it has some issues, (it's about as good IMO as a lot of the better medieval period type films of the same sword and sandals era in Hollywood) but it could be done so much better today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIoIn41xl9c



The Hussite Crusades are fascinating as well - an amazing underdog story, first mass use of guns in the open field, the war-wagons of the Czechs, heady stuff. A popular type of narrative featuring plucky use of new high tech ingenuity to defeat a more powerful foe. Plus you have this guy Jan Ziska, a badass, grizzled, military veteran (who fought at both Agincourt and Grunwald, in both cases on the winning side) who helped the peasants and townfolk of Bohemia get organized to fight off the Crusaders. This is a guy with a patch over one eye (ala Lee Van Cleef), almost a perfect real-life example of the kind of Character Clint Eastwood played in Spaghetti Westerns or Toshiro Mfune in Kirosawa Samurai films.

They did make some films about all this in Czechoslovakia during the communist era back in the 50's, and in spite of the creepy Stalnist slant they aren't bad actually on a technical level. But you could do so much more with this today. A Guillermo del Toro or David Ayer could pull it off.

https://youtu.be/AtCGXfc20PM?t=278



And then there are the Alibigensian Crusades. The region was so shattered by these events that many of the ancient fortified towns there today were essentially frozen in time. They look like something right out of a fairy tale. Guillermo Del Toro would fit well here again, I think.





...so you already have a superb set twenty times better than anything Hollywood could invent pretty much completely built, and waiting for you to start filming. There is also a fascinating subtext of the dawn of the Inquisition, with the Dominican Order burning many buxom Languedoc maidens at the stake for their heresy. Very cinematic.



Perhaps the single most interesting and genuinely obscure event I can think of though that needs to be made into a movie was the brief Crusades by the Lithuanians against the Mongols of the Golden Horde, in the years 1397-1399.

The background is very complex but I can summarize it like this. The Genoese and the Venetians had been fighting for control of the well fortified slave-trading cities in the Crimea since the 13th Century. These towns, like Caffa, were the center of the Mongol slave trade for European and West-Asian (Armenian, Georgian etc.) slaves, but more important to the Italians, they were also major transshipment points for trade from the Silk Road. The two rival urban republics were constantly fighting each other for control of this spectacularly enriching trade artery. In the process both were also involved in intrigues within the Golden Horde of the Mongols. In spite of the formidable military capabilities of the Mongols they could never extricate the Italians from their hardened Crimean enclaves and the Italians were constantly interfering with Mongol politics through bribery, blackmail, and other more subtle intrigues.

Meanwhile the Lithuanians, on the ascent as a regional military power, had begun gaining a lot of formerly Russian territory at the expense of the Mongols, after winning a staggering victory against them at the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362. Noticing this, and well aware of the keen interest by the Lithuanians to become 'legitimized' as Christian and thus alleviate the constant pressure on their Western borders by the Teutonic Knights, the Genoese contacted the Lithuanian 'Grand Duke' Vytautas and negotiated a deal by which, if the Lithuanians would go on Crusade against the Mongols, and nominally convert to Christianity, they the Genoese would arrange for the Grand Duke to be recognized as a Christian prince and thus end the Crusades and increase trade with the West and so on.

So Vytautas, with support by Genoese and other Eurpean mercenaries, launched a series of huge raids into what are now Belarus and the Ukraine starting in 1397, capturing tens of thousands of Mongols who he would later settle in his own territories (as the Lipka Tartars, the most famous in the US being Charles Bronson). Amazingly through a diplomatic deal involving a territory swap, Vytautas actually got his perennial enemy the Teutonic Knights to join the Crusade, and they found a pretender to the Mongol Khanate, a certain Tokhtamysh, to support their efforts against the reigning authorities, with the intent to install a puppet state that they could control.

If anything this was too successful in 1398 and the first part of 1399, as Mongol war parties were crushed right and left and the Golden Horde was unable to field organized resistance, but it all fell apart when the collapse of the Golden Horde got the attention of the mighty Turko-Mongol warlord Tamarlane, a contender for the single scariest individual and mass murderer in all of history. Tamarlane brought a HUGE army into Belarus and they caught up with the unlikely Crusader army, which they crushed at the Battle of Vorskla River.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Vorskla_River

11 Teutonic Knights and 50 Lithuanian dukes were slain in the resulting debacle, but Vytautas himself, as well as several of the Germans, Italians and Czechs with him, managed to fight their way out and live to see another day. Making the ending quite cinematic.


I really think this should be made into a movie, even though the plot would explode the minds of 90% of the audience.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It would be interesting to see a movie about the 13th century Frankish and Venetian principalities and dukedoms of Greece and the Aegean. It could explore the relations between the rather different culture of Byzantine Greece and Feudal France.

If you want to find out more about this subject - Mediaeval Greece, by Nicolas Cheetham,
2 novels - Lord Geoffrey's Fancy, by Alfred Duggan
The Unholy Pilgrim, by R. F. Tapsell
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was actually an Italian film about the Siege of Vienna a year or two ago, called "11 September 1683" (in Italian of course), the English re-release was titled 'Day of the Siege'. Can't really comment too much upon it but it did have a reasonable re-creation of the massive Hussar charge on the Turkish encampment.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How obscure does it need to be?

The existence of Burgundy is obscure to many, the Baltic crusade is another candidate.

I don't believe the full story of the first crusade has been put to screen yet. If we get Interstellar like music compositions, film it in black and white and explore themes of religion, destiny and the medieval mindset against a backdrop of gory historically correct battles with blood curdling screams.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
There was actually an Italian film about the Siege of Vienna a year or two ago, called "11 September 1683" (in Italian of course), the English re-release was titled 'Day of the Siege'. Can't really comment too much upon it but it did have a reasonable re-creation of the massive Hussar charge on the Turkish encampment.


An Italian-Polish co-production, with Italian director: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1899285/

Howard's "The Shadow of the Vulture" is about the other Ottoman siege, in 1529. I don't know of any movies with the 1529 siege (there are documentaries about it).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Mark Kalina





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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2015 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe not obscure to this community, but how about a movie about the Siege of Malta?

Or, if we're talking about an even bigger budget, what about the battle of Lepanto? Both offer interesting, larger-than-life personalities on both sides of the battle, and the potential for excellent drama and action... and for Lepanto, one could even have Miguel de Cervantes as a character.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2015 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Kalina wrote:
Maybe not obscure to this community, but how about a movie about the Siege of Malta?

Or, if we're talking about an even bigger budget, what about the battle of Lepanto? Both offer interesting, larger-than-life personalities on both sides of the battle, and the potential for excellent drama and action... and for Lepanto, one could even have Miguel de Cervantes as a character.


I think the Siege of Malta would make a great movie, it's an amazing story.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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