Tomas and the Falcon King (2000)
Set in the middle ages, Tomas and the Falcon King (Král sokolu) tells the story of 14-year-old Tomas (Brano Holícek) who lives with his father, grandfather and little sister and who helps his hardworking father take care of the horses belonging to the local ruler, Lord Balador. The boy possesses a unique ability: he is able to understand the language of animals and birds. Father and son live a peaceful life until one night a pack of wolves attacks the stable. That night Tomas loses his father.
After Tomas’s father’s death, the grandfather decides to visit the castle of Lord Balador to ask for a piece of land so that they don’t end up begging, having lost the income of Tomas’s father. Coincidentally, on the same day they visit, Lord Balador’s castle hosts a celebration for the birthday of his beautiful daughter Fermina. Tomas falls in love at first sight. Unfortunately, the girl has been promised to the prince of the nearby kingdom who is also attending the celebration.
When Tomas and his grandfather are returning to their home in the mountains, the boy witnesses the chase of a young man. Utilizing his unique abilities, Tomas manages to help the man by calming Lord Balador’s ferocious hunting dog. Fearing punishment, the boy steals the Lord’s best horse and flees higher into the mountains. There he meets the royal falconer Vagan – victim of castle intrigues that have resulted in his exile.
Will Tomas be able to win the heart of the beautiful Fermina? Will he be caught and punished by Lord Balador’s mercenaries? Watch the film and find out!
Tomas and the Falcon King is a fairytale-like historical co-production of several countries: Slavakia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and France. As a period piece, the movie successfully transports the viewer into medieval times – thanks to well-chosen costumes, props and a suitably themed score. Add in the absolutely stunning landscapes of the Slovakian mountains and you have a film, which has a relatively weak narrative, that’s fairly palatable. Fairytales have an unique appeal to both young audiences and adults. Yet the story of Tomas and the Falcon King can hardly be described as captivating. I just wonder, though, how it can be possible for a story with such high production values, cienmatography, animals etc. to have such a week narrative.
A Scene from Tomas and the Falcon King
Many scenes will feel oddly familiar for those who may have seen other motion pictures depicting life in Medieval Europe – such as the The Prince and the Pauper, Robin Hood and the Danish Coming-of-Age flick Eye of the Eagle. While such conformity is only beneficial as far as production design is concerned, on the downside it makes the story appear quite predictable, even clichéd.
It is unsettling to see the talent of young Brano Holícek being wasted in a film whose story could have been told in a much more intriguing way. His appearance in the title role of Tomas and the Falcon King was one of the main reasons why I chose the film to view/review in the first place. A year earlier, Brano starred in the emotional drama All My Loved Ones and his performance in that movie made a huge impression on me.
Therefore, I expected nothing short of resourceful acting from him in the role of Tomas and was not disappointed. He did some excellent imitations of animal sounds (remember his character Tomas is able to understand and talk to the animals) and appeared to be at ease working with the animals and birds. The fact that his appearance and voice were completely distinct from that in All My Loved Ones came as a surprise. Of course, it is different story in different settings with different characters, but I will admit that I would not have recognized him if I did not know for a fact who was playing the role of Tomas.
Other than Brano Holícek, the best actors in the film are probably the animals (falcons, dogs, horses, mice etc.) who performed the tasks assigned to them to great effect.
Tomas and the Falcon King is not any worse than any similarly themed Hallmark or Disney production and I believe that young audiences would enjoy the film. While the story lacks any real tension, the film’s cinematography and its overall atmosphere compensate for its shortcomings.
Film title: Král sokolu
Also known as: Tomas and the Falcon King,Sokoliar Tomás ,Tomas und der Falkenkönig
Release year: 2000 – Focusfilm Kft, Komitet KinematografiiStudio Filmowe Oko,Vision Film Production
Director: Václav Vorlícek
Cast: Brano Holícek, Juraj Kukura, Klára Jandová, Waldemar Kownacki, Jirí Langmajer and others