Medieval (Jan Žižka or Warrior of God) is a 2022 English-language Czech historical drama film directed by Petr Jákl.
It is about the life of Jan Žižka, a Bohemian military commander who never lost a battle. The film is set prior to the Hussite Wars (1419-1434), when Žižka was young. It tells the story of how Žižka became a famous military commander.
The plot of the film starts sometime in the 14th century, when Wenceslaus IV is the king of Bohemia and Roman emperor at the same time. Wenceslas has received the throne after his father Charles IV, but his reign is not as successful and the kingdom seems to fall apart under his weak rule. The most powerful nobleman in the country, Henry III of Rosenberg, keeps seizing properties of lower nobility one after another, until one of them starts resisting. The brave hero is young Jan Žižka, a knight and mercenary, future leader of the Hussite army. Rosenberg had almost all his family killed and Žižka wants revenge. Rosenberg’s fiancée Katherine falls in love with the warrior and hands him the text between Rosenberg and the League of Lords planning to dethrone the king. Although the plot is revealed, the League succeeds in kidnapping the king. The king’s troops manage to make Wenceslas free, but he has to accept a humiliating peace. Thus Žižka has to choose between two alternatives: give up the fight for justice and receive a higher rank at the royal court, or keep fighting, though alone and abandoned.
- Ben Foster as Jan Žižka.
- Michael Caine as Lord Boreš.
- Til Schweiger as Rosenberg.
- William Moseley as Jaroslav, Žižka’s brother.
- Matthew Goode as King Sigismund.
- Sophie Lowe as Catherine.
- Karel Roden as Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia.
- Roland Møller as Torak.
- Kevin Bernhardt as Captain Martin.
- Ondřej Vetchý as Ondřej.
- Marek Vašut as Matthew.
- Jan Budař as Mark.
- Vinzenz Kiefer as Conrad.
- Magnus Samuelsson as Lars.
- Werner Daehn as German.
- Alistair Brammer as Freddy.
- Jennifer Armour as Barbara.
- Sean Connor Renwick as David.
- Viktor Krištof as Jan Hus.
In 2013, Petr Jákl announced that he was preparing to make a film about Jan Žižka. He estimated a possible budget of 85 million Czech koruna. During 2014, it was scheduled for a 2016 release. Work on the film started after Jákl finished Ghoul in 2015. American agency William Morris Endeavor has assisted with recruitment of actors for the film. Jákl stated that Žižka would most likely be played by a foreign actor.
In August 2016, the process of recruiting extras for battles was started. The first round of recruitment concluded in January 2017, with thousands of volunteers.
In July 2017, Jákl announced that shooting would start in Spring 2018, and that it would take place in South Bohemia and Central Bohemia. He also stated that Žižka would definitely not be played by a Czech actor, saying that his USA contacts were talking with the agents of some American actors. Cassian Elwes became the film’s producer on 06 March 2018.
Ben Foster was announced to be cast as Jan Žižka on 24 August 2018. Shooting was scheduled to start on 17 September 2018. Michael Caine was announced on 07 September 2018 to be cast as the fictional character of Lord Boreš. Matthew Goode was cast in November as King Sigismund.
The film was officially announced on 13 September 2018. The main cast included Til Schweiger, Marek Vašut, and Sophie Lowe, among others. The final budget was announced as 500,000,000 CZK (23,000,000 USD). Shooting started on 17 September 2018, continuing near Prague until October 2018. Shooting then moved to various Czech castles such as Křivoklát Castle before concluding in December 2018. Shooting took place primarily in Central Bohemian and South Bohemia.
Themes and Inspirations
The film is based on the youth of the famous Hussite commander Jan Žižka, one of the most successful military leaders of his time, who had never lost a battle. Director Petr Jákl (who had been known to film audience especially thanks to the popular thriller Kajínek about a well-known Czech prison escapee) said he wanted to promote Czech Republic in the world and so this time he chose one of the biggest Czech national heroes as the main character for his film. Unlike other auteurs, he chose the early period of Žižka’s life because he wanted the audience to see how his character was formed. At the same time it allowed him to make the film different from his predecessors (for example a well-known 1955 film Jan Žižka by Otakar Vávra) which focused on his glorious Hussite period. Jákl admitted that although he tried to be faithful to the facts, cooperating with the Czech historian Jaroslav Čechura, he did not consider them as important as the overall impression, especially as many facts of Žižka’s early life are not known at all or are a matter of dispute among historians. Thus also a love story was added.
The film had its premiere on 05 September 2022 in Slovanský dům. It was attended by members of film cast and production such as Til Schweiger, Sophie Lowe and Petr Jákl. Michael Caine sent a video greeting. The film was released into theatres on 08 September 2022.
The film opened in the Czech Republic with 114,244 spectators during previews and 104,921 spectators during first weekend. It grossed 18,825,068 Kč as a result. It is the fourth best opening of the year.
In the United States the film grossed $810,000 finishing fourth. The film opened in 1,311 theatres.
Home Media and Streaming
It was announced that Medieval will be released on VOD services such as Google Play or iTunes on 31 October 2022.
Director of the film Petr Jákl mentioned on 21 April 2022 that the film will be accompanied by two video game adaptations. One would be released for PC and video game consoles while the other one for mobile phones. Medieval is an Action-adventure game in development by Cypronia while mobile game Medieval AR is in development by More.is.More.
- With a budget of KČ500 million ($20.3 million), it is the most expensive Czech film ever made.
- Jan Zizka is one of the few military commanders throughout history to have never lost a battle he led.
- It is not known exactly when, where, or how Jan Zizka lost his first eye.
- Years after Zizka died, a legend arose that before his death, he requested that his skin be flayed off his body, after death, and made into a drum so he could continue to lead his fellow Hussites into battle.
- Knights of the Teutonic Order wore women’s underwear to motivate them to not get killed so their corpses would not be discovered wearing women’s underwear.
- It is said they favoured garments made of silk spun from the Chinese silk worm
Production & Filming Details
- Petr Jákl.
- Martin J. Barab … executive producer.
- Kevin Bernhardt … producer.
- Pam Dixon … associate producer.
- Cassian Elwes … producer.
- Arianne Fraser … executive producer.
- Petr Jakl Sr. … executive producer.
- Daniel Jaros … associate producer.
- Petr Jákl … producer.
- Alena Jáklová … associate producer.
- Viktor Kristof … line producer.
- Delphine Perrier … executive producer.
- Petr Jákl … (screenplay).
- Petr Jákl … (written by).
- Petr Jakl Sr. … (story by).
- Petr Bok … (story).
- Marek Dobes … (based on).
- Michal Petrus … (based on).
- Kevin Bernhardt … (story).
- Philip Klein.
- Jesper Tøffner.
- Steven Rosenblum.
- Dirk Westervelt.
- J.B.J. Film.
- Double Tree Entertainment.
- KORD.Media (audio post production).
- Wog Film.
- QS (2022) (Czechia) (theatrical) (video, VOD).
- AQS (2022) (Slovakia) (theatrical) (video, VOD).
- The Avenue Entertainment (2022) (USA) (theatrical).
- Eagle Films (2022) (Non-US) (Non-US) (all media) (Middle east).
- VVS Films (2022) (Canada) (all media).
- Release Date: 08 September 2022 (Czechia).
- Rating: R.
- Running Time: 126 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.