Pan Wolodyjowski (Colonel Wolodyjowski)



Director:  Jerzy Hoffman.

Starring:  Tadeusz Lomnicki (Michal Wolodyjowski), Magdalena Zawadzka (Basia), Mieczyslaw Pawlikowski (Onufry Zagloba), Hanka Bielicka (Makowiecka), Barbara Brylska ( Krzysia Drohojowska), Irena Karel (Ewa Nowowiejska), Jan Nowicki (Ketling Hassling of Elgin), Daniel Olbrychski (Azja Tuhaj-Bejowicz), Marek Perepeczko (Adam Nowowiejski), Mariusz Dmochowski (Jan Sobieski), Wladyslaw Hancza (Nowowiejski), Gustaw Lutkiewicz (Lusnia), Tadeusz Schmidt (Snitko), Andrzej Szczepkowski (Bishop Lanckoronski), Leonard Andrzejewski (Halim).

third  part of the trilogy; Turkish invasion of Poland; (1668-1670) under Polish Kings John II Casimir (1648-1668) and Michael I (1669-1673)




Spoiler Warning:  the below tells the entire story.

Set at the time of the Turkish invasion of Poland's eastern frontier.  Colonel Wolodyjowski strikes a bargain with some locals and together they put up a final defense against the army of the Ottoman Empire. (There is a love subplot between the Colonel and Basia, the tomboy princess.)

Good movie.  Of the three movies in the trilogy, I enjoyed this one the most. 

The year is 1668.  Poland has been ravaged by numerous wars for twenty years.  John Kasimir abdicates and foreign princes try to attain the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth  throne.

There is fear that the Tartars will mount a huge offensive against the Republic.  Lord Sobieski worries a lot about Kamenets, the border stronghold.  Ketling, a good soldier, is being sent to Kamenets.

A group of soldiers (Ketling, Zagloba and Nowowiejski) get together and decide that they must bring Colonel Wolodyjowski out from retirement.  He was set to marry but his fiancée died.  He then became a Camaldolite brother.  Zagloba comes up with a plan.  He goes to the monastery and with a little trickery gets the Colonel to leave the religious order. 

The military men are gladdened to see the Colonel again.  While back, the Colonel runs into his sister on the road.  With her are two adoptees: a blonde Basia and a brunette Krysia.  (This is important because the subtitles introduced the blonde Basia as Krysia and the brunette Krysia as Basia; backwards in other words.  This confused me for awhile.  The two girls are very different: Basia is a real firecracker and a bit of a tomboy; Krysia is very quiet and enjoys playing music.)

The Colonel falls in love with Krysia and Krysia with him.  They become secretly engaged.  They will announce the engagement after the Colonel returns from his military duties on the border.   (To make things more complicated, Basia, is also in love with the Colonel.)

The Grand Hetman assigns Colonel Wolodyjowski to Kamenets with the tasks of forming garrisons at Rashkov and Hreptov.  The Colonel receives the Lipki squadron of Polish Tartars (commanded by the Tartar Melechowicz).  On the border the Polish troops rescue a group of Polish prisoners from their Tartar escort.  After the battle, one of the Polish soldiers tells the story of losing his wife to a Tartar kidnapping and how he then kidnapped a 3 year old son of Sultan Tuhay Bey.  Someone else stole the boy from him. 

The Colonel proceeds to the border area.  While he is away, Ketling falls in love with Krysia and she returns his love.  She feels terrible and tells Ketling that she is going to live in a convent.  Ketling is broken-hearted and decides to go to Scotland.  The Colonel returns on a visit back home and he learns that his sweetheart is going to join a convent.  Basia, in her distress over the upset, spills the beans about Ketling and Krysia.  Enraged, the Colonel sets out to kill Ketling. 

On the way to the port, the Colonel changes his mind.  He returns with Ketling and tells Krysia they she can marry Ketling.  This gives Basia the chance to declare her love for the Colonel.  (The Colonel jumps at the chance for happiness and the two marry.)

The year is 1670.  The incompetent King Michael Wisniowiecki sits on the throne.  The country is torn by internal strife.  There are quite a few garrisons on the southeast boundaries. 

Basia has gone with her husband to Kemenets.  It is reported that a large Tartar detachment has crossed the border.  Michael is able to inflict heavy casualties on the invaders. 

The Tartar commander of the Polish Lipki Tartars, Melechowicz, has fallen in love with Basia.  Since she shows no interest in him, he decides to kidnap her.  At a large dance party at the garrison, a guest recognizes Melechowicz as his servant who escaped from the family after the master had beaten Azya for having fallen in love with his pretty daughter Eva.  Then another guest realizes that Azya is that 3-year old son of Tuhay Bey that he had kidnapped 20 or so years ago. 

Azya is still very angry over Eva's father's rejection of him as a possible son-in-law.  He has been sending information to the Tartars in the Ottoman Empire.  He now learns that in the spring the great Khan will cross the Wild Fields and storm the garrison at Kamenets. 

Since Eva is still in love with Azya, playing matchmaker, Basia arranges for Eva to stay at the garrison while her father goes home.  But Azya shows no interest in Eva.  When Basia says that she was going to accompany Eva and Azya to run interference with Eva's dad, Azya sees an opportunity to capture the two women and the father.  Azya carries out his plan, but the tough Basia hits him with the butt of her hidden pistol and escapes on horseback.  She actually makes it all the way back to Kemenets.  Azya kills Eva's father and gives Eva to his troops. 

Eva's brother, Nowowiejski, vows vengeance on Azya.  He takes his troops into Ottoman territory and waits for spring and the oncoming Tartars.  He is able to kidnap Azya in a raid on the Tartar camp and has him slowly impaled. He then rides alone into the Tartar camp to die fighting them.

The last part of the movie deals with the Colonel and Ketling's defense against the forces of the Ottoman Empire from a castle fortress on the border.  The Poles do really well, but a peace agreement is signed and the Polish forces have to abandon the fortress.  The Colonel and Ketling, however, stay behind and die in the fortress rubble when they explode the fort's ammunition dump.  The two men are honored as heroes.  

One year later.  At the Field of Chochim, the army of the Polish-Lituanian Commonwealth routs the Turkish army. 

I found the triangle relationship between the Colonel, Krysia and Ketling interesting and also liked the aggressive character of Basia.  In the other Polish movies, the women were very passive; Basia is not.  I did not care that much for the ending.  With two beautiful women waiting at home for them, why would the Colonel and Ketling destroy themselves along with the castle fortress?  Couldn't they just have used a long fuse and accomplished the same destruction of the fortress without sacrificing themselves?  I also did not care for the Colonel's advise to the ever loyal Basia.  He said that if he should die, she should just say "it's nothing."  Losing a spouse is not "nothing," as anyone with a lick of sense knows. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:


1572-1795  --  the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which had a quasi-democratic structure.

1587-1668  --  Vasa Dynasty of Kings of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

1626  -- Jan Sobieski born in the Ukraine. 

He graduated from Nowodwory College, Kraków.  He then graduated from the philosophical faculty of the Jagiellonian Academy. 

Together with his brother Marek, he spent more than two years traveling in western Europe.  He learned the French, German and Italian languages. 

1648-1687 --  reign of Sultan Mehmed IV (Mohammed IV) of the Ottoman empire.

1669 -1673  --  reign of King Jan II Kazimierz of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

1669  --  King Jan II appointed John Sobieski to be the Great Crown Hetman and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish army.

1672-1676  --  Ottoman Empire goes to war against Poland.  Jan Sobieski distinguishes himself in the war.

1673 (November 11)  --  Sobieski with his Polish hussars (cavalry) defeated the Turks in the battle of Chocim in western Urkaine, capturing the fortress there.

1674  --  Sobieski becomes the King of Poland. He brought considerable stability to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

1674-1696  --  reign of King Jan III Sobieski. 

1683 (September)  --  he was a brilliant military commander and was most famous for the Battle of Vienna, the first large-scale battle of the Habsburg-Ottoman Wars.  Sobieski was commander in chief of a Polish relief army of 30,000 and a Habsburg army of 40,000 against the Ottoman Empire and its army of 138,000 men (commanded by Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha).  The Muslim army was defeated at the gates of Vienna. 

1687  --  Sultan Mehmed IV dethroned. 

1687-1691  --  reign of Sultan Suleyman II.

1691-1695  -- reign of Sultan Ahmed II.

1695-1703  -- reign of Sultan Mustafa II.

1696  --  death of Sobieski. 

1697-1706  --   reign of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth King August II the Strong.


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