En route, the Magyars fight their way across Russia, battle the Bulgarians and are (wisely) welcomed by the current inhabitants of the Carpathian Basin. Arpad loses his son but gains a nation, and on the way gets a lecture on Christianity by a Greek Orthodox priest (Laszlo Sinko).
Thematically, pic is a mix of “Westward Ho!” and “Moses,” with a contempo message for Brussels as Hungary attempts to join the EU. Cinematically, it’s a mess: Planned some two years ago as a big-budgeter to star Anthony Quinn, it ended up shot on hi-def and transferred to film, with a cast of tens rather than thousands, and Nero in the lead saddle.
There’s little development of the characters in between the minimally staged action sequences. Nero (dubbed by Geza Tordy) mostly gazes moist-eyed into the middle distance, muttering, “Beyond yonder hills lies Pannonia,” and recalling his dead wife, Reka (Klara Varga), in idyllic flashbacks.
Lensing is OK (though clearly of vid origins in its lifeless colors) but evinces no epic shape or overall visual style, especially in the 1.66 aspect ratio chosen. The synth score — by director Gabor Koltay’s brother Gergely Koltay — hammers away at an uplifting melody.
In the early ’80s, helmer Koltay made a mark with the music pics “The Concert” and “Stephen the King,” but 10 years later turned to the historical genre with the dramatically flat telefilm “Julianus.” “The Conquest” is a step down even from that.