New trailer for 'Jan Žižka' reveals major plot points

The two-and-a-half minute clip highlights the turmoil in Europe and political struggles in the early 1400s.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 26.07.2022 14:31:00 (updated on 26.07.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

More footage has been released from the highly anticipated historical film “Jan Žižka,” which will be called “Medieval” outside the Czech market. The film will hit Czech screens on Sept. 8. Ben Foster stars as the title character, and Sir Michael Caine appears in one of his last roles before his announced retirement.

A two-and-a-half-minute trailer was released yesterday, following a one-and-a-half-minute teaser trailer released in early May. A teaser in general is short and shows highlights of a few scenes. A trailer comes out closer to the release of the film. It is longer and usually shows a bit of the plot or character development.

The historical tale has an estimated budget of over CZK 500 million (about $21 million). There have been more expensive films shot in the Czech Republic, such as the recent spy film “The Gray Man,” but this one is mainly a Czech production. It was written and directed by Petr Jákl, a former stuntman and Olympic athlete who has now turned his attention to cinema.

“I tried to put a little more of the story of the film, which is important to me, into the trailer. For me, the entire film is primarily about Žižka's personal story,” Jákl said.

The two-hour feature film takes place in the year 1402. “I chose this year because the political situation back then was very similar to our current one. Politicians were arguing, they wanted to grab as much power and money as possible,” Jákl said.

“At that time, Jan Hus began preaching in the Bethlehem Chapel and events unfolded that eventually led to his burning,” he added. He wants everyone to make up their own minds about Žižka and the entire period leading up to the Hussite Wars.

The story takes place before Žižka became a famous one-eyed warrior , though some later scenes show him with an eye covered so maybe that mystery will be solved.

Ben Foster and Michael Caine in 'Jan Žižka.' Photo: © Stanislav Honzík.
Ben Foster and Michael Caine in 'Jan Žižka.' Photo: © Stanislav Honzík.

The narrator in the trailer explains that wars, famine, and plagues affect Europe and the time. Lord Boreš (Caine) tells Žižka (Foster) that kidnapping a woman is the only hope to save the kingdom and unite Europe. Later, Boreš tells Žižka he must protect the woman.

Several Czech castles and Charles Bridge are seen in the film, as well as some montages of the action scenes. Filming took place at Bezděz, Křivoklát, Točník, Kokořín, and Zvíkov, among other castles.

Sophie Loew in  'Jan Žižka.' Photo: © Stanislav Honzík.
Sophie Loew in 'Jan Žižka.' Photo: © Stanislav Honzík.

In the trailer, Jákl wanted to find a balance between enticing the audience and giving away too much of the plot.

“What should and shouldn't be shown in a trailer is always a big question. I generally prefer not to learn too much from the trailer,” he said, adding that he also disliked misleading trailers. “Sometimes everything is different in the film.”

“Trailers nowadays show a lot of the story. In addition, the viewer needs to be lured to the most attractive things in the film because the competition is huge and the audience today chooses carefully what they pay for,” he said.

He showed trailer options to a control group. “We had several trailers and we tested all of them with an audience. The testing confirmed my favorite, so we can use it with ease,” Jákl said.

It is also common to make different versions for American and international audiences. The Czech audience, in this case, is much more familiar with who Jan Žižka is.

Petr Jákl directing Michael Caine in 'Jan Žižka.' Photo: © Stanislav Honzík.
Petr Jákl directing Michael Caine in 'Jan Žižka.' Photo: © Stanislav Honzík.

“With a trailer, it is important to know what kind of viewer you are aiming for. Unfortunately, it's different in America and here. But we only have one trailer, so it's a combination that I hope will work for everyone,” he said.

The road to making the film began 12 years ago, with the early drafts of the script. The first scene was shot on Sept. 17, 2018, and filming lasted 56 filming days, ending on Dec. 8, 2018.

Aside from Ben Foster and Michael Caine. The film also stars Matthew Goode, Til Schweiger, Vinzenz Kiefer, Werner Daehn, William Moseley, Sophie Lowe, and Guy Roberts, plus Czech actors Karel Roden, Ondřej Vetchý, Marek Vašut, Jan Budař, and Ben Christovao.

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