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Film / The Great Warrior Skanderbeg

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An Russo-Albanian 1953 epic movie by Sergei Yutkevich, the Great Warrior Skanderbeg (in Albanian Luftëtari i math i Shqipërisë Skënderbeu and Russian Великий воин Албании Скандербег - Velikiy voin Albanii Skanderbeg) tells the story of Albanian national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, an Albanian prince taken hostage and raised as an warrior for the Ottoman Empire, only to later rebel against his masters to defend his homeland for more than two decades. Notable for winning the International Prize in the 1954 Cannes Film Festival. The movie was remastered in 2012 in celebration for 100th anniversary of Albania's independence with new voices, high definition and sound effects.


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This movie contains examples of the following tropes

  • Age Lift: Inverted. George was given as hostage by the Ottomans as a little boy, when in real life, he was 18 years-old.
  • As You Know: The movie is very prone to this. One particular moment is when Murad tells Skanderbeg that he was named after Alexander the Great, which is something he already knows but is only said for exposition's sake to the audience.
  • Balcony Speech: After taking the fort of Kruja, George delivers his famous "I did not bring freedom! I found it among you!" speech to his men.
  • Badass Grandpa: Skanderbeg towards the end of the movie. He already has grey hair when he participates in the final battle against Hamza and duels with him.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Battle of Valikard Field and the Siege of Kruja.
  • Cool Uncle: Skanderbeg to his nephew Hamza, who is both his second-in-command and last surviving family member whom he regards as a son. He suffers a Heroic BSoD after hearing of his betrayal.
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  • The Corrupter: The Serbian Despot to Hamza. He points out that despite his bravery in fighting the war, its his uncle taking all the glory for himself and if he has a son, Hamza will be passed over as his heir. When his cousin is actually born, Hamza remembers the Despot's words and wastes no times siding with the Ottomans.
  • Corrupt Church: The monk that accompanies the Venetian ambassador is just as corrupt as their masters. When told to administer the last rites to the dying Albanian lord of Danja who asks that his land is inherited by Skanderbeg, he lies and tells his family that his last request was to give his lands to Venice.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Venetians openly make trade with the Ottomans and refuse to assist the Albanians, even though the former are fully intending on invading Europe. They also steal Albanian land, set torch to fields that doesn't belong to them and are considered by the locals to be even worse than the Turks.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Venetians are portrayed as corrupt and backstabbing capitalists. Makes sense when you remember this movie was made by communist countries. Its probably no coincidence that they are friendly with Turkey, considering the country's membership to NATO.
  • The Empire: The Ottoman Empire.
  • Evil Nephew: Hamza Kastrioti.
  • Family Honor: Albanians are bound by the Kanun code of honor to avenge a family member's death by any means. This is the key reason why they are so fractured and Skanderbeg aims to unite them by making peace with them.
  • Good Costume Switch: Skanderbeg ditches his black Janissary outfit for an white armor after returning to his homeland.
  • Happily Ever Before: The movie ends with Skanderbeg an old man having successfully secured Albanian independence for 25 years and giving a speech how they will never be conquered. Of course, anyone familiar with history knows what happened to Albania a decade after his death.
  • Heroic BSoD: Skanderbeg has a moment of shock after hearing that his nephew betrayed him for the Ottomans.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Downplayed. While Skanderbeg is portrayed fairly accurately, his more brutal acts like impaling enemies or forcing Muslims to accept baptism or face execution are omitted.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • The Despot of Serbia is portrayed as The Corrupter for planting the seeds of doubt in Hamza's ears that push him to his Face–Heel Turn. While some Serbian despots were Ottoman vassals, there is no evidence to suggest they interacted with Hamza.
    • The Venetians are portrayed as collaborators to the Ottoman Empire and hopes they defeat the Albanians so that they can invade Italy next. Even though its known that they did wage war with the Albanians while briefly siding with the Ottomans, for the most part the two powers have been rivals over the Mediterranean Sea and fought a number of wars against each other over the centuries.
  • Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: After being beaten in the final battle, Hamza goads his uncle to finish him off by saying he always hated him, but he is unable to do it.
  • Man in White: The Doge of Venice wears a fully concealing mantle while sitting stoically in his throne.
  • Modest Royalty: Skanderbeg's sister Mamica isn't above plowing the field as seen in her first scene. Skanderbeg himself also dresses in the same manner as his men.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: The final battle of the movie is between Skanderbeg and his nephew Hamza.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Albanians, naturally. They are fierce warriors bound by an traditional set of laws and its their fierce patriotism that makes Skanderbeg rebels against the Ottomans.
  • Royal Brat: Prince Mehmed. He actually throws a temper tantrum when his father refuses to continue the failed siege of Kruja.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Skanderbeg's wife Donika doesn't have much character herself and is merely defined by her relationship with him.
  • Secular Hero: In a stark contrast to his historical counterpart, there is nary a mention of Skanderbeg's faith either as a Muslim or a Christian and he is defined more by patriotism than faith. This makes sense since this is a movie made by Soviets and the only religious characters we see (such as the Venetians) are portrayed as evil or corrupt.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: Mamica and Paul are in love with each other, but can't be together because they need to secure political marriages to ensure Albania remains united. When it looks like they can be reunited after the death of Mamica's husband, she dies during the final battle.
  • Smug Snake: The Venetian ambassador looks down on the Albanians for their "primitive honor" and not understanding the value of money.
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