"1242 - At the Gates of the West", gap-filling historical adventure film about the era of Béla IV and Batu Khan

"We shall see Batu Khan, the merciless lord of the steppe, arrive with his army under the walls of Esztergom, and the handful of defenders - led by Canon Özséb and the Spanish mercenary captain Simon - prepare for the final battle."

Gábor Horváth-Lugossy talked to the makers of the historical adventure film at a reception in Ulaanbaatar, the official closing of the two-day cultural event "Hungarian Days", organised by Ambassador Borbála Obrusánszky.

The Director General of our Institute told the filmmakers that he knew how much effort they had already put in to make the film a reality, and for that they deserve gratitude. "In today's world, it is more important than ever to strengthen Hungarian national consciousness and pride, and films are one of the best tools for this. Our ancestors never gave up the fight even in the most unpromising situations, our warriors defended the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Hungarian nation - in this film - against attacks from the East to the last drop of their blood, but this story will also show that the West did not always show its best face to us in the 13th century."

Director Péter Soós said at the event that his film "1242 - At the Gates of the West", a Hungarian-Mongolian-English co-production, will be a unique and large-scale work, in which we will be able to get to know the mentality and personality of Béla IV and Batu Khan, and become part of the film.

The director was delighted to confirm earlier reports that several world-renowned foreign actors had signed up for the roles, and that the post-production work would be carried out by renowned international professionals. Kevin Spacey will play an Italian cardinal, the main villain of the story. Christopher Lambert has been cast as an elderly Hungarian crusader, Eric Roberts as another Hungarian warrior, Captain Ákos, and Terence Stamp as the narrator. The film is expected to be edited by Kant Pan, who was recently nominated for an Academy Award. The action scenes have been assigned to Greg Powell (who has proved his worth in several Hollywood action films).

Kornél Sipos, the producer of the film, stressed that the filmmakers have undertaken to make a film about a Hungarian event of world historical significance. As he said, "It would have had unforeseeable consequences if, at the end of the winter of 1242, Batu Khan had not turned his armies back from Esztergom, but had continued his advance." It's great that the film is being shown for the first time at the Seoul Film Festival, and countries around the world have already signed up for the screening rights to show the film on their cinema networks.

Executive producer Csaba Iski is pleased with the state of preparations. The outstanding work so far has resulted in the film receiving a HUF 1.26 billion production grant from the National Film Institute to depict one of the most tragic events in Hungarian history, the devastation of the first wave of the Mongol invasion, as well as Béla IV, Batu Khan and the era.

At the end of the interview, Gábor Horváth-Lugossy congratulated the production crew for their undertaking and for their determined representation of the "cause" of historical film, and asked them not to stop there. After "1242 - At the Gates of the West", there are many more Hungarian historical events and figures to be presented on film, and he suggested that the team should continue this work for "at least 40 years".

Shooting will start in autumn 2022, and locations include the Visegrád Citadel and the Cistercian Abbey of Bélapátfalva. The world-class production is scheduled for 2023.