Yaroslav. Tysyachu let nazad (The Warlord; Iron Lord) (2010)

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:     Aleksandr Ivashkevich (Yaroslav), Svetlana Chuykina (Raida), Aleksey Kravchenko (Harald), Viktor Verzhbitskiy (Sviatozar), Valeriy Zolotukhin (Churillo), Pavel Khrulyov (Vend), Elena Plaksina (Zhelana), Fedor Shuvalov (Ilyusha, the young Prince), Boris Tokarev (Meley, Chief of the Bear Tribe), Vladimir Antonik (Vishata, right hand man to Sviatozar), Yuriy Vaksman (Budiy, tutor for the young Prince), Konstantin Milovanov (Budimir),  Sergey Genkin (Gorazd, messenger for the Owl), Georgiy Nazarenko (Father Fedor), Roman Kurtsyn (Stavko), Aleksandr Gizgizov (Aldan. Chief of the Brigands), Anora Halmatova (Tuna), Alexey Dmitriev (Kird), Dmitriy Urosov (Warrior #1), Denis Yasik (Warrior #2), Sergei Guryev (Mikula), Vladimir Tereshenko (Korilo), Kirill Boltaev (Nevzor), Kirill Byrkin (Radim), Yaroslav Uzenok (Vyachko), Vladimir Badov (Kriv).

warlord Yaroslav rules the kingdoms to the North of Kiev with an iron fist, conquering new lands to gather taxes for his father, Grand Prince Vladimir

 

 

 Spoiler Warning:

"Beginning of the 11th century.  More than two decades have passed since the time the Great Prince Vladimir baptized Rus'.  Kievan Rus' consists of the lands governed by the sons of the Great Prince.  And Vladimir himself heads the whole Rus' leading the principality of Kiev.   The princes gather tribute from the dependent lands.  Some part of it maintains their local armies, the other goes to Kiev.  Collecting the tribute the princes' armies promise to protect local tribes.  Many hired warriors serve the princes.  Among these treasures and fame hunters are Norsemen.  They are called Vikings in Western Europe and Varangians in Rus'.  The principality of Rostov is the most remote from Kiev.  Slavic and Finnish tribes live there.  They are the Krivichi, the Ves', the Meria and the Slovene.  Vladimir's young son Yaroslav was appointed as a governor to them.  The years passed.  Yaroslav comes of age and annexes new lands to the Rostov principality.  It takes him a lot of effort to do it.  Brigands invade woods, roads and rivers. They sell local people into slavery to merchants.  The latter raft them down the Volga River for further resell.  More and more often Yaroslav and his warriors go to collect tribute to find deserted, devastated villages of the Slovene and Meria people.  Lawlessness is all around Rostov.  Nothing but strong authority can put an end to it."

[Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, located on the shores of Lake Nero, 202 kilometers (126 mi) northeast of Moscow.  Kiev is now located in the Ukraine.] 

Yaroslav arrives in a Meria village that has just been decimated by the brigands.  A soldier tells him that it was a pack of twenty and they just did leave the place.  Yaroslav says they will go after the brigands. 

The brigands are whipping the tied up slaves to get them to move faster and faster.  They reach the river and an agent Aldan, chief of the brigands, buys the slaves from the dealer. 

Yaroslav and his forces reach the cliff above the river and start attacking.  A guard goes down with an arrow in him.  Aldan now kills the dealer.  Then Aldan gets on a horse and rides across the river to get away.  The Meria people are released.  Now Yuroslav leads his forces to the hideout of the brigands where they find the Meria's tribute.  The place looks deserted, but Yaroslav tells the white-haired Norseman Harald that the brigands are here. The brigands now attack launching arrows into the forces from Rostov.  The Prince is wounded in the left arm with an arrow and goes down with his horse. 

There are too many brigands and Harald orders a retreat. Someone removes the arrow from Yaroslav's arm.  They form up at a sacred place composed of tree trunks set up widely spaced in concentric circles.  The brigands attack with fire balls which start the wood on fire.  Harald is a very good swordsmen and he kills a lot of brigands.  Yaroslav also kills a few.  The brigands decide to retreat. 

Yaroslav now gets his wound bandaged up.  He is told that the place is sacred to the tribe of the Bears.  Veles is their greatest god.  The Bear Tribe has a village up the River.  The tribe never disturbs anyone, but they also don't let strangers in.  Harald says he doesn't think the brigands will come back, but Yaroslav says they will because all the trade in the area goes through this river.  He also says that a fortress should be built here for:  "We will never stop the brigandage unless we settle here."  With a fortress here, they will be able to control the Volga River.

At dinner time, a female prisoner is brought to Yaroslav.  Someone mentions that the woman seems to be from the tribe of Veles.  Yuroslav gives the order to release her.  He tells her to sit down by the fire and have some food.  He gives his knife and a speared piece of meat to the woman.  She then tries to sink the knife into Yaroslav's head.  She is stopped.  The leader now tells the woman not to be afraid because no one will harm her by the fire. 

Yaroslav dreams of when he was a child with his mother in the huge fields. Noises of a man struggling with a woman wake Yaroslav.  He rushes over to the man and woman and pulls the man off their female guest.  She says she despises everyone at the camp.  Yaroslav ignores that and says that tomorrow they will take her back to her village.

In the morning the older man Vishata tells the Prince that they are making enemies here.  First with the burning of the sacred place and now with the girl.  Yaroslav tells Vishata that he is getting too old and he should go back to Rostov.  It's time to let the Bears know the Prince's will.  Vishata is alarmed at this plan saying those people are barbarians.  Yaroslav repeats his order.  Vishata is to go back to Rostov but he is to return with masters and warriors.  The other men will cut down the forest to make way for the fortress. 

Vishata arrives in Rostov.  He has brought some prisoners with him.  Vishata speaks with the leader Sviatozar.  With Sviatozar are his pretty daughter and the young Prince, son of Yaroslav.  The boy asks Vishata where is his father?  He says that the Prince went to the Bears' village. He went to return a barbarian girl to them.  Sviatozar seems concerned and gives the order to call the generals.  Vishata tells the others not to worry for Harald is with Yaroslav.  Sviatozar tells Vishata to prepare the people for the construction works.

The Prince rides with the woman Raida to ask her why she despises them?  She says her people were chased off their traditional lands by people who were very much like Yaroslav and his people.  And now she and her people have to hide like snakes.  Yaroslav says that those people could have been Varangian mercenaries. 

Sviatozar wants his daughter to marry Prince Yaroslav.  And the young Prince loves her too for his daughter is such a beauty.  The problem is that the daughter wants Harald.  Dad says she is forbidden to marry any Norseman mercenary fighter.  "Mercenaries don't live long."

Yaroslav's little group is attacked by the Bear people.  Yaroslav tries to run off with his horse, but a Bear warrior trips the horse and it goes done.  Yaroslav is hit hard on the head.  He sees the warriors rush over to him, but he soon goes unconscious. Most of Yaroslav's group is killed. 

The woman prisoner Raida turns out to be the daughter of the chief of the Bear Tribe, named Meley.  He demands to know why his daughter went to the pagan shrine alone?  What if Vend didn't rescue her?  The daughter says she she will never marry Vend.  This upsets father, but he figures that his daughter is still grieving over her dead husband.  He says Vend will be the next chief of the tribe.  She replies:  "I don't love him."  And, anyway, Vend can't be chief.  The people fear him and the man can't negotiate with others.  Her father tells her to marry Vend and make him a good chief.  He then asks his daughter to promise him that she will never leave their people.  She gives her promise.

Vend comes in and says:  "Then Chief Vend will have his own chief Raida."  He then asks when will this happen?  The chief tells his daughter she can leave and she does. 

Harald recovers the next morning.  He is the only survivor, except for Yaroslav himself. 

The Bear villagers come to stare at the tied-up prisoner Yaroslav.  Vend comes over to get the Prince.  He takes him inside and has him tied up.  He then slugs the Prince, asking him why did he burn their sacred place?  Yaroslav says the brigands burned their sacred place.  They had abducted Raida and he rescued her from them.  He adds that he came in peace.  Vend then slugs Yaroslav in the mid-section.  The Prince tells Vend that he is Yaroslav, Prince of Rostov.  Vend says he's going to cut off the legs of the prince and then place him on an ant hill.  Yaroslav frees himself and knocks Vend down.  He then jumps on top of the man and hits him again.  A big fellow pulls Yaroslav off Vend.  Vend is about to stab Yaroslav when Raida intervenes to stop him. She says Meley is waiting to talk to him. 

In Rostov the prisoners are being tortured to get information out of them.  A prisoner says that their leader is named Aldan.  Tortured some more and he says there is a man over Aldan who is in Rostov.  His name is Owl.  After that, the prisoner is killed. 

Vend tells Meley that he will kill the Prince and then no one will ever bother them anymore.  Meley tells him to cool down, so they can sort out what to do, but Vend says that their leader has already disgraced himself by offering peace to their enemies. And, he adds, this is what caused half of the tribe to be killed. And Vend says that his own family was murdered.  The chief's aide kicks Vend into the mud and then pushes his head farther into the mud. 

Aldan eats his dinner at night.  A messenger from Owl comes to him named Gorazd.  The messenger says the Bears captured the Prince of Rostov.  So Owl now wants their village burned down and Yaroslav killed. 

Raida goes to see Yaroslav.  She brings him food and drink.  She says she will change his bandage as long as he doesn't try to run away.  She unties him.  He gets up and she screams for the guard.  He knocks her down and out and then he waits for the guard to come in.  He knocks out the guard by shoving his head into a post. 

The brigands are now ready to attack the Bear Village.  Some Bear warrior shouts out to take the underground passage.  A group of men go to the secret passage and Yaroslav follows them.  Vend leads the way for the group. 

Vend comes up out of the passageway and into the forest.  His group sneaks up behind the archers using flaming arrows against the village.  They completely surprise the archers and many are killed by the Bears. 

Then a real bear starts attacking the fighters.  Yaroslav is caught in a net trap and Vend and his men grab him.  They tie Yaroslav up and take him back to the village.  The brigand attack fizzles out. 

Two of Yaroslav's men sneak up on some brigands down by the river.  They capture the brigands and bring them in to see Vishata.  The prisoners beg for their lives saying that Aldan forced them to attack the Bears' village.  Vishata asks them why?  Because he wanted them to capture Yaroslav.  Vishata didn't even know that Yaroslav was a captive.  The prisoners tells him that he is still in the village of the Bears. 

Raida comes up to Yaroslav and slaps him across the face for knocking her out.  The crowd loves it and laughs. 

Harald arrives in Rostov saying that he does not know what happened to Yaroslav.  This really upsets the leader in Rostov because they will be blamed if something happens to Yaroslav.  They are thinking that he must be a captive of the brigands. Now Vishata makes an appearance and he tells them that Yaroslav is in the village of the Bears.  The leader Sviatozar says they will use their army and the volunteers to gain the release of the Prince.

Tied up in the village Meley lets the Prince speak.  He says it's the brigands who are wiping out the villages in this whole area.   Many of the men in the crowd say that the Prince is lying.  He shouts:  "I am the only one who can stop the brigandage with my army."  The people start shouting to sacrifice the Prince to their god Veles. 

In the forest the giant bear falls into the opening exit for the underground passageway.  He gets himself up and walks along the passageway.  A man in the passageway making his way back to the village keeps hearing a tremendous growl.  He keeps stopping to look to see where the noise is coming from.  The bear catches up with the fellow and kills him.  The Prince is about to be executed when the bear comes out into the fortress.  Yaroslav saves the day by grabbing an axe, jumping up on a platform and planting the axe right into the head of the bear, who goes down.  The Bear leader says that Veles has made his choice.  He has decided to save the Prince's life.  He now gives the order to give the Prince over to the old man Churila.  

Harald sneaks up on his beloved, the leader's daughter.  She is happy to see him.  She tells Harald that her father knows about the two of them.  The woman then says that maybe she should marry the Prince of Rostov.  Harald calls her bluff by telling her to obey her father.  Zhelanna asks if Harald loves her?  Harald tells her that he promises that they will be together.  He'll talk to Sviatozar when he comes back.  They kiss. 

Sviatozar talks with Vishata.  Vishata says that the fortress in the forest that the Prince ordered built is not needed.  Moreover, no one asked the Grand Prince of Kiev's permission to build the fort.  All of a sudden Sviatozar says that the man is using the Grand Prince of Kiev as a cover.  He now calls Vishata the Owl. 

The Prince shows his host Churila his Orthodox Christian cross around his neck.  The old man does not like this talk of one God for all people.  And yet, he asks the Prince to tell him more about this one God of the Christians. 

Sviatozar gets ready to leave for the Bear village.  He tells clergyman Father Theodore to look in on Vishata who is now locked in the torture chamber.  Harald asks Sviatozar to leave one squad of good Norsemen behind to protect the young Prince and Zhelanna.  Sviatozar just tells him to not think about women  --  think about the battle. 

Raida comes to see the Prince.  She tells Churila to leave the two of them alone.  She goes inside  one of the rooms.  She tells the Prince that Vend wants to kill Yaroslav, so she is going to help him escape.  The Prince tells her he's not leaving until he talks to Meley.  They kiss. 

Vend comes and asks Churila where is Raida?  Churila starts speaking very loudly to warn the two people inside.  Vend pushes the old man out of his way and finds Riada alone.  He seems relieved.  But then he sees the Prince appear.  She says she brought the Prince an herbal potion.  She leaves.  Vend catches up with her and pushes her up against a wall.  He tries to kiss her, but she shoves him away.  She leaves. 

Father Theodore tells Vishata that he knows he is not guilty of treason.  He releases the man from the stocks. 

The Prince comes to speak to Meley.  Meley tells him that the Rostov people have set up a camp on the way to their forest.  And as soon as they enter the forest, Meley will have the Prince executed.  The Prince explains to him that if he lets him go, there will be no battle.  Meley says he doesn't believe the Prince.  Yaroslav tells Meley to send a messenger to the Rostov people and tell them that their prince is alive and that he's in no danger at all.

The Prince uses his host, the old man, to be the messenger. 

The Prince gets a night visit from Raida.  They kiss and have sex.  (brief nudity)

Zhelanna and the young Prince travel in a convoy accompanied by a male chaperone.   The chaperone says that Zhelanna is trying to take the young Prince away from him, the boy's tutor.  The convoy arrives at the Rostov encampment before dark. 

In the camp Churila talks with Sviatozar.  Churila lies to the leader, but the leader knows that.  So he tells Churila that he will rack Churila and get the truth out of him that way.  He changes his mind and tells Harald to go the the Bears' village and talk with this Meley fellow about releasing the Prince.  Churila will go with Harald.  Zhelanna visits with Harald.  She says her father told her about Harald's assignment.  Harald says it will not be dangerous and he will be back in the evening.

Harald and Churila are surrounded by Bear warriors.  They make Harald throw down his arms.  They take Harald to the Bear village where he sees the Prince alive and well.  Meley tells the two men to sit down at the table.  He tells the Prince that they are ready to make peace with Rostov.  The Prince says Meley made a very wise decision and from now on his people will be under the protection of Rostov.  Vend speaks up to say that until the Rostov troops leave the area, the Prince will stay here in the village.  So the Prince tells Harald to go back to Sviatozar and tell him to withdraw the troops. Harald offers a toast to peace and pours some rare Romeian wine in the mugs of the Prince and Meley. 

Now the Prince asks Meley for his daughter's hand in marriage.  Vend does not like that one bit.  Meley says he will give his answer after the tribe is out of danger. 

The Owl's messenger comes into the tent of the young Prince and his tutor.  He asks the tutor to come outside the tent with him. As the tutor gets ready to go, the messenger stabs him in the back. 

Harald tells Sviatozar that the Bears want to hold the Prince for ransom.  One man says they should pay the ransom.  Harald says this man is afraid to fight the Bears. Sviatozar tells Harald to shut up.  They will attack the Bears at dawn. 

Vend finds Meley dead (probably from the wine Harald poured him).  Vend then kills Meley's main aide. 

The Prince is also sick from the wine.  Raida tries to keep him cool.  Now Vend shows up to kill the Prince.  Churila steps in front of Vend to tell him to help them because the Prince has been poisoned.  The Prince tells Raida and Churila to leave them alone.  They leave, but Churila takes Vend's sword with him. 

The messenger goes to see Harald and calls him the Owl.  He asks if something has gone wrong?  Harald tells the messenger Gorazd to be quiet.  Gorazd spills the beans about the whole attack to come.  Inside her tent, Zhelanna hears all of this.  Gorazd even says he hid the young Prince in a good place.  Harald and Gorazd decide to ransom the boy, but after they get the money they will kill the boy. When Harald opens the tent he sees Zhelanna all upset and walking away from him.  He tries to explain himself, but it's not working.  Zhelanna tries to stab him with his own knife that Harald gave her.  Then he takes the knife from her and stabs her.  He lays her slowly down on the ground.  He takes one of her rings from her fingers. 

Harald prepares for battle.  So also does Yaroslav.  Yaroslav now attacks Harald and his men.  The Norsemen start running for their lives into the forest.  There many are killed by the booby traps set by the Bear people.  The Norsemen also run right into the Bear tribal fighters and many more Norsemen are killed. 

Harald stops by one of the booby traps that he is familiar with.  He waits for Vend to come after him.  Vend sees him and starts to attack but Harald nails him with a thrown hatchet that kills Vend.  A little later Raida finds Vend's dead body  With her is Yaroslav. 

The brigands are planning an attack on Rostov, while everyone else is fighting.  A messenger warns them off saying there is far too many people involved in the intense fighting.

Gorazd has been captured.  He tells Sviatozar and Yaroslav that it was Harald who killed Zhelanna.  Sviatozar kills Gorazd with a sword from behind him. 

The Prince goes looking for his son and Harald.  Harald has come to take the boy with him.  The Prince arrives with some of his men.  Harald uses the young Prince as a shield.  Yaroslav says the man isn't even a warrior hiding behind a little boy.  This makes Harald mad and he lets the boy go.  The two men will fight it out to see who is the real warrior.  Yaroslav kills Harald in the fight. 

A huge cross is raised where the Bears' sacred place was destroyed by the brigands. Churila is there to see it.   The Prince explains to the people that a fortress will be built here. He says some nice words about unity, love and peace.

Sviatozar now asks Vishata to forgive him for thinking that it was he who was the Owl.  He also acknowledges that Vishata wants revenge on him, but that God has already punished him enough.  Vishata now just walks away from the leader. 

Raida says she is staying with her people, as she promised her father. 

The town that grew up around the fortress became known as Yaroslavl. 

 

Good movie, but the tale is only a small part of the long life and reign of Yaroslav who became the Grand Prince of Kiev.  His father, the previous Grand Prince of Kiev, sent him out to rule the northern lands around Rostov.  This was around 1010.  He became the Grand Prince if Kiev six years later, following his father's death in 1015.  There's quite a lot of action in the film with many participants:  Yaroslav and his men, the Rostov army, a fringe group of Norsemen under Harald, the brigands and the Bear tribe.  And there are two love stories, even if they are a little weak. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background:

 

Under Yaroslav the Wise,  Rus' reached the zenith of its cultural flowering and military power.

978-1015  --  reign of Saint Vladimir I the Great as the Grand Prince of Kiev.

978  --    birth of Yaroslav. one of many sons of the Varangian (Viking) Grand Prince Vladimir the Great. 

Yaroslav was sent by his father to rule the northern lands around Rostov.

1010  --  he was transferred to Novgorod, as befitted a senior heir to the throne.  He founded the town of Yaroslavl on the Volga.

1014  --   Yaroslav refused to pay tribute to Kiev and only Vladimir's death prevented a war.

1015  --  he was vice-regent of Novgorod at the time of his father’s death in 1015.

1015-1016  --  his eldest surviving brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, killed three of his other brothers and seized power in Kiev as the Grand Prince of Kiev.

1016  --  Yaroslav defeated Svyatopolk in their first battle, and Svyatopolk fled to Poland. Svyatopolk returned with Polish troops furnished by his father-in-law, Duke Bolesław I Chrobry of Poland, seized Kiev and pushed Yaroslav back into Novgorod. Yaroslav becomes the Grand Prince of Kiev until his death in 1054, with exception of part of 1018-1019.

1018-1019  --  Svyatopolk becomes Prince of Kiev for a short while.

1019  --  defeats Svyatopolk and becomes the Grand Prince of Kiev.  (Supported by Novgorodians and Varangian mercenaries.)

1019  --   Yaroslav married Ingegerd Olofsdotter, daughter of the king of Sweden. Had five daughters and five sons.

Yaroslav promulgated the first code of laws in the East Slavic lands, "Yaroslav's Justice" (now better known as Russkaya Pravda, "Rus Truth [Law]").

1024  --  his brother, Mstislav of Tmutarakan, whose distant realm bordered the Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea, hastened to Kiev and inflicted a heavy defeat on Yaroslav.  Yaroslav and Mstislav then divided Kievan Rus' between them: the area stretching left from the Dnieper, with the capital at Chernihiv, was ceded to Mstislav.

1030  --  Yaroslav reconquered Red Rus' from the Poles and concluded an alliance with King Casimir I of Poland, sealed by the latter's marriage to Yaroslav's sister Maria.

1036  --  death of Mstislav.

1036  --  to defend his state from the Pechenegs and other nomadic tribes threatening it from the south. Yaroslav constructed a line of forts, composed of Yuriev, Boguslav, Kaniv, Korsun, and Pereyaslav.

1037  --  to celebrate his decisive victory over the Pechenegs, Yaroslav sponsored the construction of the Saint Sophia Cathedral.

1043  --  Yaroslav staged a naval raid against Constantinople led by his son Vladimir and general Vyshata. Although the Rus' navy was defeated, Yaroslav managed to conclude the war with a favorable treaty and prestigious marriage of his son Vsevolod to the emperor's daughter.

1051  --  Yaroslav had a monk Ilarion proclaimed the metropolitan of Kiev, thus challenging old Byzantine tradition of placing Greeks on the Episcopal sees.

1054  --  death of Yaroslav.