Thursday, October 9, 2014

More on Yul/VVP; or, how Hollywood sees Cossack-Polish relations

In a previous posting, I noted that President of the Russian Federation Putin bears a certain resemblance to another Russian-born actor,Yul Brynner (their political allegiances, however, are quite different, despite their both being actors, but of course in different fields, one being entertainment and another politics -- but then again, is there such a difference between the two?)

On Yul, see the fascinating biography by his son, Rock, who once told me that,
when he (Rock) was at a Vladivostok film festival in honor of his deceased father, a spectator came up to Rock and said (referring to the Magnificent Seven)
It takes a Russian to make a Western [mentioned in]
I realized, to my great trepidation because of intellectual carelessness, that Yul acted in another movie  -- Taras Bulba -- in which he again bears a certain physical similarity to Vladimir Vladimorovich, meanwhile both riding horses!

Image from

Image from

If you think the current situation in Ukraine is complicated, here's the "plot" of the Taras Bulba film, as summarized by this ever-unreliable source, Wikipedia:

The film opens with a battle raging between the Turks and the Poles. The Poles are losing until the Cossacks arrive to save the day. However, it turns out that the Poles were merely holding back so that they could treacherously attack the Cossacks after they won the battle for them. As a result, the Poles become masters of Ukraine and the Cossacks are subjugated. Taras Bulba, one of the Cossack officers, returns home to raise his family but now it is under Polish dominion.
Several years later, Taras sends his two sons, Andrei and Ostap (Perry Lopez) to the academy at Kiev, to obtain a Polish education. There, the eldest son, Andrei, falls in love with a Polish princess Natalia Dubrov (played by Christine Kaufmann), to the ire of the locals, who treat the Cossack brothers like scum of the earth. Ultimately, the brothers are forced to flee Kiev, returning to their father’s house on the Ukrainian steppes.
There, word comes that the Poles want the Cossacks to raise an army to help them in a new war with the Turks. When Andrei objects, he is accused of being a coward. This is a serious offense that can only be resolved by a test of courage. Andrei and his accuser ride and jump their horses over a chasm until God chooses which one is right by having the accuser fall to his death. Taras embraces Andrei’s lead and plans to betray the Poles and take back Ukraine.

 image from
Assuming command of the Cossacks, Taras leads them to Dubno, where the Poles are expecting him to join them. Instead, the Cossacks attack the Polish army and drive it back into the city. The Cossacks then lay siege to the city. Hunger and disease set in and Andrei, fearing for the life of his Polish lover, sneaks into the city in an attempt to rescue her. He is captured and she is condemned to be burned at the stake for the crime of loving a Cossack. To save her, Andrei agrees to lead a raiding party to bring cattle into the starving city.
Meanwhile, the Cossacks have grown bored with the inactivity of the siege and a large number of them have departed for home. When the Polish commander realizes the weakness of the Cossacks against the raiding force, he orders his whole army to attack. Taras Bulba encounters his son on the field of battle and kills him for his betrayal before joining the general retreat to the edge of a cliff. There, the Cossacks who left the siege to go home, rejoin the battle and large numbers of men and horses, both Cossack and Polish, are pushed over the edge to their deaths in the river below.
The movie ends with the Cossacks victorious and entering Dubno. Andrei is to be buried there, as “it is now a Cossack city” and presumably, the Cossacks will not treat the Poles as badly as they were treated by them.
BTW, here's a rather "heavy" evidently Soviet-era monument to Taras (I won't speak about what will happen to the stone below his bottom if he sits too long on it; but I'm sure he'll remember to flush the toilet before it collapses ... ):

Meanwhile, Taras, enjoy your cheerios .. otherwise, the dog will eat 'em.

But Volodya [Putin] would certainly not approve of this Yul image:

Image from

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