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 http://www.slugagosudarev.com/ 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 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.
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!)
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 seventeenth 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.