Friday, 10 July 2009

The Sovereign's Servant

The Swedes are coming!

Having seen this 2007 Russian film trailed on the Wars of Louis Quatorze blog I decided to order the international version (which has French and English subtitles) direct from the manufacturer I have to say that I wasn't that confident of it arriving from Russia but it appeared in just over a week.


There is some discussion on IMDB about it not being very historically accurate, the uniforms being too clean and the languages other than Russian (Swedish, French, Polish, Ukrainian) being mangled (the actors learnt it phonetically) but as I don't speak any of those (except French and that sounds OK) I didn't really notice. Also I'm not bothered about whether it was a historic re-enactment of Poltava or not. This is because it had Swedish and Russian GNW armies hammering it out in big budget widescreen and when are you ever likely to see that again?

Court in a trap

The film itself is about two French aristocrats who, having fought a duel over a woman, are sent by a disapproving Louis XIV to observe the Swedish and Russian armies just before Poltava.

Our hero

Our hero is an Orlando Bloom-a-like who treks across Poland to meet up with the Russians; encountering Polish partisans, dastardly Swedes (very much the villains) and a Russian soldier who befriends him. It all climaxes at a pretty well done Poltava (although the redoubts are a bit Sharpe like).

Swedes sir, thousands of em!

Other than getting me to want to paint some more GNW figures, naturally, the film, because of its Russian slant has got me more enthused about painting a Russian Army.

Charge! They look just like the Musketeer minatures figures!

I had been so biased towards the Swedes that I just didn't care much about the Russians but now that has changed and I can't wait to get going on the pikemen (none in the film) which I ordered from Musketeer a month ago. So I think I will take these on holiday with me next month.

Musketeer Miniatures; we need Russian command figures! Now!

I'd certainly recommend The Sovereign's Servant. It's beautifully filmed, there are hundreds (rather than dozens, a la Sharpe) of extras in the battle scenes and some of the background women are breathtaking as only Russian women can be. I was giving a lecture in Smolny, the St Petersburg city hall, a couple of years ago, and a bell rang and all the city secretaries came out for lunch. It was like Milan fashion week; I've never seen so many beautiful women in one place at one time (and I've been to a model's party at Milan Fashion Week!)

Katie Holmes-a-like heroine smirks at Louis XIV

It's gory without overdoing it (blood but no guts, a few hangings and a beheading) and there are a few (not enough, given the quality of the actresses!) glimpses of partial female nudity (which I know worries some non-Europeans).

I want this ship!

There is also a lovely eighteenth century sailing ship in it which was a bonus as far as I am concerned.

I really enjoyed this film, despite the historical inaccuracies (although they got some things right; like Charles XII getting a foot wound just before the battle) and think that it will be a long time before we ever see another film set in the Great Northern War.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

More Russian Musketeers

I've now painted the four I have got and have ordered some of the new pikemen. Hopefully command and Grenadiers won't be too far behind! One thing I'm not sure about. On my first figure I just gave him the single sword like the pikemen have. I'm not sure if this is right or not or why I did it so I have given these most recent three the bayonet/sword combination. I must count out what I have left unapinted to see what is right.

Hopefully Musketeer Miniatures will also commission flags for the Russians as well.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Russian Musketeer

All this talk about Russians has made me remember that I actually finished one Russian infantryman ages ago. Here he is and I hope he will have a lot more companions shortly! Let's hope I can remember what shade of green I used on him. It's so long ago I have forgotten!

Musketeer Russian pikemen are out!

It's a shocker but they are actually on sale on the website! I first saw the green at Colours in Newbury last September (at least I think it was last September but it could have been the year before!) and they have taken ages to arrive.

I was talking to someone at the club during our Roman battle last week and he said that he was glad that he hadn't started the Great Northern War as he had intended as the line had petered out. This line is getting a bad reputation on the net so I hope Bill can deliver on things like the Swedish cavalry he has promised.

Friday, 20 March 2009

A word about colours...

Grimbsy Mariner has made a comment about the colours of the reenactors uniform in the post below.

Colours are always a tricky thing. I based all my GNW uniform colours on a visit I made to the Army Museum in Stockholm about 18 months ago.

Pikes seemed to vary in colour but I never saw white ones. Old wood turns a dull pale grey but I suspect this was a trick of the light. I tend to go for a pale woody (!) brown or sometimes a yellowy colour. The key thing, from observing ECW reenactors is that all the pike shafts were different colours depending on the wood and the age of the wood used. Pikes had to be made of strong wood and Ash was often used which is a yellow wood.

Current Swedish Guardsman

As regards coat colours I don't think that the blue used by these reneactors is right. I have seen comments to the effect that recent research has shown that uniforms from this period were lighter than thought. The current Swedish army uses a dark shade in their ceremonial uniforms and this may have influenced people.

The Army Museum has some reproductions of GNW uniforms as seen below. The flash actually makes it seem darker than it was in reality.

Below is a genuine Swedish uniform coat from the slightly later period of 1756 but this is what I have based my colours on. The colour reproduction in this is spot on. My painted figures are all photographed in flash and so have a slightly turquoise cast that isn't there is real life.

The yellow cuffs etc are very pale, as you would expect from natural dyes, not the bright yelllow some people use.

As regards the buff equipment it should be...buff.

Again these uniforms are reproductions but the buff leather equipment is not that different in shade from the yellow facings.

Always interested to hear from people who know more, of course...

Friday, 27 February 2009

Pike and Musket Organisation of Swedish battalions

Grimbsy Mariner, on his blog last week, threw me into a panic over the organisation of a Swedish battalion in the Great Northern War. In particular he had, like me, put his pikes in a block in the centre with grenadiers on the flanks. He had read that this was wrong, however, saying that: "Poltava, The Battle That Shook Europe" makes reference to pikes scattered through the battalion. However, Pat Condray in his booklet "Swedish & Russian Armies of the Great Northern War" (1990) is less clear. He talks about pikes being a third of the company strength and deployed either in the center of the battalion, the center of the company or across the width of the battalion."
After a lot of web trawling I cam across this which offers two alternative deployments:

I will happily stick to my pikes in the centre approach as a result, as the alternative smaller pike blocks would only work if you were using 6mm or 10mm figures I reckon.

Monday, 2 February 2009

More GNW Swedes painted

The story so far. I've actually got more painted than unpainted which must be unique for me!

I finished another ten figures over the last two days so my regiments now look like this (yellow are completed).

I intend to get another five of the Kalmar Regiment ready for painting so they can catch up a bit.

I need to buy a few more figures to complete them but still have enough to be going on with for a bit. Maybe I will pick them up if I go to Salute this year. Musketeer Miniatures keep promising Russians so lets hope they can actually deliver. I keep reading about people on the internet who, like me have started off the period with Swedes but are growing disillusioned by the lack of opposition. I would be very happy to start on some Russians this year, although what I really want to see are Danes.