‘Medieval’ Tells the Story of a Czech Hero in the Middle Ages

Ulises Duenas


Jan Zizka is a folk hero for the Czech people. His cunning as a military leader and devotion to his soldiers made him a legend on the battlefield and his early exploits are depicted in the film Medieval, directed by Petr Jaki. With the biggest budget of any Czech film ever made, it’s clear that the director had a mission to do the story justice, even if most viewers don’t understand the impact of the events depicted.


The story takes place during the 14th century, at the tail-end of the Middle Ages in Central Europe. Jan Zizka is a young mercenary who battles against Henry III of Rosenberg, a nobleman who is recklessly taking territory of lower houses including Zizka’s.

Zizka is then branded an outlaw and he uses his ingenuity to raise an army of bandits and peasants to oppose Henry. While the plot is somewhat generic, the director does a great job of building a sense of atmosphere and tension and the military battles shown throughout the movie are well done.



The film does a good job of showing the brutality of war and the bleakness of the Middle Ages. There’s a fair amount of blood and gore, but not to the point where it becomes gratuitous or sensational; it feels like a grounded portrayal of war for the time.


The lighting and shots of the European countryside help create a creepy and uneasy atmosphere, although at times it does look a little too similar to other works that portray the Middle Ages. It’s an impressive feat for a movie that doesn’t have any supernatural elements and it keeps the slower scenes from feeling boring.




One of the more notable shortcomings of Medieval is that none of the actors give breakthrough performances. Ben Foster as Zizka and Michael Caine as Lord Bores are both good in their roles, but they never hit the level of greatness that would make their characters memorable.

There’s solid acting from most of the actors,  yet none stand out.

Medieval is a movie with above-average directing and action scenes combined with average acting and an average plot. It makes for an interesting watch as a historical piece, but a lot of the politics of the time were dropped in favor of action and personal drama.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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