Zaporizhzhia!

The movie “Taras Bulba” (1962) has a score by Franz Waxman for which the composer received a twelfth Academy Award nomination. The story was adapted from Taras Bulba, the novel by Gogol. It’s about the Cossacks of the Zaporizhzhia region in the Russian steppes. The music Waxman wrote for the ride of the Cossack tribes to Dubno to finally extinguish their enemies the Poles is so exciting and so exhilarating, and builds to such a crescendo as the Cossacks ride all-out on their vengeful mission, that I never get sick of listening to it.

The ride was choreographed with a horse-movie convention I always like. How many of you have ever seen this kind of scene? In the western, it’s the “we’re going to town to destroy the bad guys.” The movie “Silverado” has one of these. In “Taras Bulba,” Yul Brynner and his two sons start the journey to Dubno early in the morning, with the music starting softly. Then the music gets louder and louder as tribes of Cossacks join them from both sides yelling what sounds like “Zaporizhzhia!” until a great host of reckless, fierce, vengeful Cossacks is galloping all-out to Dubno. The music builds and builds and by the time the music ends triumphantly, they’re riding into Pole territory and you know what they’re going to do. If you’ve ever ridden a galloping horse, you wish you’d been in on the making of that movie.

I listen to it as I walk the track at my local rec center. Invariably, as “The Ride to Dubno” blares in my ears, I speed up. Regrettably, when this happens, I am compelled to pass the person in front of me, can’t help it. Under the influence of this music, I’ve sped past people who are younger than me, even high school students on the track–and all due to this wonderful music.

Although the movie is cheesy in parts, it’s worth buying the DVD for that scene alone. “The Ride to Dubno” is also known as “The Ride of the Cossacks,” and has been played all over the world.


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