The Day That Shook the World

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The Day That Shook the World
The Day That Shook the World FilmPoster.jpeg
American poster of the movie
Directed by Veljko Bulajić
Produced by Vlado Brankovic
Bohumil Pokorný
Written by Screenplay:
Stevan Bulajić
Vladimír Bor
Paul Jarrico
Veljko Bulajić
Starring Christopher Plummer
Florinda Bolkan
Maximilian Schell
Music by Juan Carlos Calderón
Lubos Fiser
Cinematography Jan Curík
Edited by Roger Dwyre
Distributed by American International Pictures (USA)
Running time
122 minutes
Country Czechoslovakia
Language Czech, Serbo-Croatian, English, German

The Day That Shook the World (Serbo-Croatian: ''Sarajevski atentat, lit. The Sarajevo Assassination'') is a 1975 Czechoslovak-Yugoslav-German co-production film directed by Veljko Bulajić, starring Christopher Plummer and Florinda Bolkan. The film is about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo in 1914 and the immediate aftermath that led to the outbreak of World War I.

When the only surviving heir to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was killed by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, on 28 June 1914, his death set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the First World War. The movie chronicles the events surrounding that death and its aftermath. The assassination gave the Germans and Austrians reason to fear that the Russian Empire was actively fomenting unrest in the Balkans, since Serbia was a bone of contention throughout the region.

Upon its release, The Day That Shook the World was met with mixed reviews. The New York Times critic described the film as a "footnote to history that is rarely moving".[citation needed] The movie was dubbed in theatres (USA - English, Czechoslovakia - Czech, Germany - German) and has aired only once on television, on Czechoslovak Television two years after its release in cinemas.



The film was released to cinemas on 31 October 1977 in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. English-language premieres were in January 1977 in the UK and US. American International Pictures released the movie in 1977 with English dubbing. Later in the 1990s the movie was released to VHS.

In November 2014 was released on DVD.


Despite an awesome title, "The Day That Shook the World", is more quaint than explosive. As a dramatization of the events leading up to and including the royal murders that triggered World War I, it is a fragmented revival of the past that evolves largely as a picturesque adventure rather than as persuasive history.

Filmed on authentic Bosnian locations, the "Day That Shook the World" appears to have been cut somewhat confusingly, for all of the obviously good, serious intentions of its little-known director, Veljko Bulajić, and his American screenwriter Paul Jarrico.

Although they focus, in captivating color, on the June 1914 assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his lower status wife, Sophie, their plotters, the burning nationalistic issues and the regal machinations that led to that fateful day. These are touched on in a succession of brief, fuzzy intrigues. The mutual hatred of Bosnian, Serbian, Muslim and other nationalities under Habsburg dominance is merely indicated. And the backgrounds of the seemingly educated, mostly youthful, student-conspirators are also glossed over.

Photographs of the Archduke and his spouse show a rather heavy-set, mature couple, but in the persons of Christopher Plummer and Florinda Bolkan they are a strikingly photogenic, regal and loving pair. Mr. Plummer not only adores the equally loving, stately, brunette Miss Bolkan and their three children, but also carries off official duties at military maneuvers and dinners with the same brashness he evinces in a mild clash with Franz Joseph, the irascible, octogenarian emperor.

Maximilian Schell plays the role of the tortured, eventually ill-fated, bearded revolutionary who trains the callow assassins, with simple, glum determination. Among the largely Yugoslav supporting cast, Irfan Mensur plays Gavrilo Princip, the young conspirator who fired the fatal shots. Like his fellow actors, he simply portrays a harried personality, more involved in a series of escapes from detection by the police than in character delineation.

In directing his fairly large cast, Mr. Bulajic has succeeded in creating a good deal of melodrama, some tension and a few tepid romantic interludes. Jan Curik, his cinematographer, has captured the scenic charms of a picturesque countryside and the visual qualities of vintage automobiles, colorful uniforms and sham battles with toy-like soldiers in maneuvers.


The film won one award at the 1976 San Sebastián International Film Festival in Special Mention category.[1] The film was also selected as the Yugoslav entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 48th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "24 Edition 1976 Awards". San Sebastian Film Festival. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  2. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

External links[edit]