Directed by: Petr Nikolaev
Coproduction: Czech Television (Czech Republic), RTVS (Slovakia), ALEF Film & Media (Slovakia), Everest Film (RS), A Atalanta (Slovenia), Barrandov Studio, a. s. (Czech Republic)
Format: Docudrama/Historical reconstruction(1x85’)
Along with the feature docudrama, a full-length film intended for cinema distribution has been created. Unlike the television series, the film puts an emphasise on the main Constantine’s and Methodius’ rival, the treacherous priest Eiben, who inconspicuously pulls strings, acting as a double agent and medieval lobbyist. Backbone of the film message is particularly the focus on the legacy from the past and the idea that neither power nor economical interests will hold the common Europe and European nations together, unless they share strong moral and spiritual foundations. The film also contains the epic battle for Veligrad.
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The story from the 9th century in stunning scenes depicts the beginnings of the spread of Christianity in Great Moravia and in our lands. The main characters of the feature docudrama and the film are missionaries Constantine (later known as Cyril) and his brother Methodius, who were proclaimed saints and are often referred to as the apostles of the Slavs. The plot of this four-part television series follows an important part of our history between the years 826 and 885.
At the beginning, we learn about the most dramatic moments of the childhood and adolescence of the two brothers from Thessalonica, their life in Constantinople as well as their first missionary journeys to Arabia and to the Khazars where, among other things, they recovered from the sea the remains of the martyr and the third Pope Clement I. We also follow Constantine’s involvement in the struggle over iconoclasm which at that time swept the entire Byzantine Empire, as well as Methodius’ curious fates at the time when he was the governor at the hot soil of the Strymon region which was plagued by frequent riots.
Following the request of Moravian Prince Rostislav that Christian teachers be sent to the territory of Great Moravia, we follow an incredible story of how the Old Slavonic script was created (Glagolitic script) and how the first translations of the most important books were completed. After depicting the challenging journey of Constantine and Methodius from Constantinople to Great Moravia, the main plot begins to unfold – the dramatic struggle to promote Christianity in the Slavic lands (particularly Moravia). During their missionary efforts, the brothers not only face the pagan religion which is still very deeply rooted in the society (pagan gods and demons, common law, fortune-telling and witchcraft), but they also find themselves amidst the fight for the introduction of the Slavic liturgy, which is such an untraditional thing in this region that it incites resentment among the Latin priests and strong resistance of the mighty East Frankish Kingdom. Constantine and Methodius found their own school, introducing the Slavic literature and spreading Christian thoughts, at the same time, however, they negotiate with the monarchs of the time, the Emperor as well as the Pope in Rome. Apart from spreading Christianity and building the independent Great Moravian Church, they are also successful in laying the foundations of the legal state.
The hard struggle over the existence of the Moravian Church continues also outside the territory of Moravia. Constantine and Methodius want to ordain their disciples as priests, but they are first required to defend their work at the hostile synod in Venice and later also in Rome in front of the Pope where they surprisingly manage to slowly enforce the Slavic script and liturgy and to establish an independent Moravian diocese. However, Constantine, who is now seriously ill, having suffered from tuberculosis from early childhood, dies of exhaustion in Rome. After his death, it is his brother Methodius who takes the lead in the mission and after great efforts he is appointed the first Moravian Archbishop.
In the meantime, strong unrest bursts out in Great Moravia during which the Moravian Prince is betrayed by his nephew Svatopluk – thus, Rostislav slowly falls into the hands of the East Frankish Emperor who deprives Rostislav of his sight and later attempts to seize Moravia. However, instead of gaining gratitude, Svatopluk is imprisoned and it is the Frankish Margraves Wilhelm and Engelschalk who are entrusted with the governance over Moravia. However, people in Great Moravia do not accept foreign Margraves and stir up a strong rebellion which in whole world can only be suppressed by one person – Svatopluk. For this reason, Emperor releases Svatopluk from the prison and puts him into the lead of his strong army. But soon after, Svatopluk takes side with the Moravians and together they defeat all Frankish soldiers in a merciless fight. In the meantime, however, the Franks captured Archbishop Methodius and condemned him to two and a half years’ imprisonment, leaving him in a dungeon as a beast. After nearly three years of inhumane suffering, the Bavarian bishops are required, following the Pope’s intervention, to release Methodius and the Archbishop finally returns to Great Moravia to complete his mission there.
Svatopluk becomes the Prince of Great Moravia and, as an excellent warrior and a ruler of extraordinary skills, he extensively expands the territory of Great Moravia (Hégabé Moravia). Thanks to his capabilities and excellent organisation skills, Methodius translates into the Slavonic language the remaining part of the Bible – the entire Old Testament. But he still faces the constant prejudices from the Latin priests, especially priest Wiching, who manages to ascend the Episcopal See in Nitra, an important part of the Moravian Empire of that time. After many intrigues and denouncements, Methodius finally loses support of Rome where, in the meantime, the new Pope Stephen V was appointed. Shortly before his death, Methodius nominates Gorazd, one of his best disciples, as his successor, but due to a false letter his enemies succeed in destroying the life-work of both brothers – after Methodius’ death they achieve that many rare books are wiped off the Earth and all Slavic disciples are expelled from Great Moravia with no chance of return. Yet the work of both brothers has survived centuries, greatly affecting the course of history not only in the West (large part of Europe), but also in the East (Byzantium, Russia, Eastern Christianity).
Petr Nikolaev – Director
Methodius - Roman Zach
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