Monday, December 8, 2008

Mongol (2007) R - 4 Stars

I always grew up thinking Genghis Khan was an evil bad ruler of ancient Mongolia. Perhaps it was his name or my own lack of knowledge as to who he really was. He would go on to conquer Russia and good part of the world, in 1206. I'm not sure how much liberty the movie takes in actuality of events, but the film is visually stunning and captivating and why I am giving it such a high rating. It's also a great romantic epic. I don't think anyone can be completely accurate in recreating something from 1162, but perhaps it's changed my impression of how this ruler really was.

Filmed in China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan, the imagery is breathtaking. My only complaint of the movie is the way it cuts off and changes scenes and years so quickly before you realize what happened. Since the film is in Mongolian with English subtitles, at first it was hard for me to keep track of who was who. With all the horse back riding getaways, I almost wanted to label it a western. The acting is fantastic and it's based on the controversial writings of Russian historian Lev Gumilyov.

Born Chinggis Khaan in 1162, Temudgin was taken by his father to find a bride at age 9. Borte is a young girl of the village eyes Temudgin who will return to make her his bride at age 16. But life for Temudgin would be tragic when his father is killed in front of him and the Merkit's vow to return for Temudgin when he grows up. The family, now very poor, has no status in the valley and eventually they return for him.

Jamukha (Sun Hong-Lei), saves Temudgin from certain death and while he hides him, they two pledge with their blood to be brothers for ever. As the two grow older, they talk about becoming the next Khan of the people and both have different ideas of who that will be. Years later, Temudgin's (Esugei Tadanobu Asano), most important goal is to make his way back to the village to retrieve his bride Borte (Khulan Chuluun), who has been anxiously awaiting his arrival. The two return back to his village and mother, to be married.

Jamukha, now a Mongol chieftain and quickly obtaining the status of Khan will have to choose between his status, and his brother, while Temudgen quickly gains support of the Mongols who elevate him to greatness.

Director: Sergei Bodrov
Writers: Sergei Bodrov, Arif Aliyev
Producers: Anton Melnik, Sergei Bodrov, Sergei Selyanov
I viewed 11/08

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