Monday, July 7, 2008


Historical drama
In Mongolian with English subtitles.

The Mongols were an illiterate, religiously shamanistic and sparsely populated nomadic group of herdsmen, perhaps no more than 700,000 in number, that lived on the grassy plains north of the Gobi Desert and south of the Siberian forests. Before the year 1200, the Mongols were fragmented, moving about in small bands and living in portable dwellings.

Khan (alternately spelled in lowercase as khan) is a Central Asian title for a chief, a sovereign or military ruler. For the most part khans only headed relatively minor tribal entities, generally in or near the vast Eurasian Steppe. Some managed to establish principalities of some importance as they expanded the territory under their control.

In geography a steppe is a flat and arid land. The Eurasian Steppe is the world’s largest zone of steppes and is found in southwest Russia and neighbouring countries of Central Asia. Another large steppe is located in central United States and western Canada.

Odnyam Odsuren: 9-year-old Temüjin
Bavertsetseg Erdenebat: 10-year-old Börte
Asano Tadanobu: the adult Temüjin who later was given the title of Genghis Khan meaning "emperor of all emperors"
Khulan Chuluun: the adult Börte
Honglei Sun: Temüjin’s brother, the Mongol chieftain Jamukha

Just mention the name Genghis Khan and most everyone thinks of the cruel Mongol war-chief who became leader of a vast empire. Well he was that and more.

As the movie would have it Temüjin was a clever man, a visionary, a lover and superb horseman. But that’s not always easy to perceive because the story is far too convoluted and disjointed with more than a few unanswered questions.

Too much time is devoted to the battles, which is the main reason the film is more than two hours long. Few of us need to see so many and not quite so graphically with blood flying around in slow motion, spattering the camera lens and everything else around. Not since Braveheart with Mel Gibson did I so frequently have to avert my eyes to the bloodshed and violence. It’s a wonder I stuck it out.

Mention should be made of the cinemaphotography: some of it is stunning. The panoramic shots of the steppes and surrounding area make you want to get up and go see it for yourself.

for sequences of bloody warfare (and they ain’t kiddin’)

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