Day of Siege

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Day of Siege (11 settembre 1683)

original title:

11 settembre 1683

directed by:


F. Murray Abraham, Enrico Lo Verso, Antonio Cupo, Giorgio Lupano, Yorgo Voyagis, Hal Yamanouchi, Cristina Serafini, Alicja Bachleda, Piotr Adamczyk, Jerzy Skolimowski, Marius Chivu, Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Borys Szyc, Marcin Walewski


set design:


Alessandro Leone (II), Alessandro Leone

world sales:





film run:




release date:


In the collective anxiety resulting from September 11, 2001, there is, all too human and widespread, the impulse to scour through the pages of History for a handle on such a cataclysmic event.
September 11 is a watershed date: in fact as Bernard Lewis, the contemporary world's foremost Islamic scholar never tires to remind us, that date coincides with Islam's deepest thrust into the very heart of the West.
On September 11, 1683, three hundred thousand warriors hailing from every corner of the Empire are laying siege to Vienna. They are commanded by the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, to whom the Sultan of Istanbul has entrusted the Prophet's banner: the green oriflamme with the golden crescent which tradition claims as once belonging to the Prophet Mohammad himself. The objective of their aggression is to hoist that flag over all the capitals of Europe, last among which Rome, the cradle of Christianity.
The apparition of a luminous comet in the heavens is interpreted as a sign from Allah promising the glorious victory of Islam and the subjugation of Christian Europe. Arabian horses will soon be watering at the fountains of St. Peter's Square.
Despite two months of heroic resistance, the fate of Vienna appears to be sealed: cannonballs of the Turkish Army have breached the walls in several places opening the way for rapid incursions by the Tartar Cavalry and the Bosnian foot soldiers flanking the Vizier's Janissaries. The sallies are ever more fierce and frequent.
On September 11, by the first light of dawn, a Capuchin monk says Mass at the top of the hill overlooking the city. Then, with a last fiery sermon, he incites the Christian troops.
His name is Marco of Aviano, born in Friuli, 1631 of noble lineage. He is counselor and spiritual guide of the Hasburg Emperor Leopold I.
The battle between the opposing armies drags on until sunset, with mixed results for both sides in a strategic play of thrusts and retreats, until Eugene of Savoy, at the head of six thousand Po Valley Lancers finally emerges en masse, breaking through the circle of besiegers while a diversionary move on the part of Carl of Lorraine enfilades the Turkish Janissaries.
At this juncture, by the waning light of the setting sun, the decisive attack is led by the Polish King Janos III Sobieski, who, despite his wounds, leads the final assault that overwhelms the Ottoman troops and routs the last holdouts at the enemy encampment: twenty-five thousand tents, among which the towering green pavilion of Kara Mustafa himself. Victory!
Throughout the entire battle, the figure of Marco of Aviano stands out against the sky at the top of the hill. Wooden crucifix in hand, held to the heavens, he incites the Christian troops and prays for their well-being. A few days later, the selfsame Marco will deliver Mohammad's banner to Rome and consign it into the hands of Pope Innocent XI.
For Islamic minded historians the rout of Vienna was an epochal "catastrophe", one that generated a sentiment of collective shame for being so soundly vanquished by the "infidel".
And for Islam as a collective whole, that defeat was a harbinger of a slow and inexorable decline.
The deeply imbedded origin of the Islamic rage which the West must now daily confront is to be found therefore on what transpired on September 11, 1683.