One lazy Sunday I drifted into watching this mini-series. My first impression was that it was a silly, romanticized Hollywood treatment of a classic historical account (admittedly, one that I hadn't personally read at the time).
And, yes, seeing Brian Dennehy cast as Kublai Khan made it especially hard to buy into the treatment! But the sets, costumes and storyline were all quite extraordinary. A lot of effort obviously went into the production , which was made in China with a substantial budget.
But many things just didn't sit right with me: the magnificence of Kublai Kahn's court, his cities, the military technology, and a romance between Marco and a Chinese princess? And then the Kahn charges Marco with delivering the princess to the other side of the planet???
I watched it to the end...and then ran to Amazon to find a book to get the facts. The book I found was The Travels of Marco Polo: Edited by Peter Harris (Everyman's Library (Cloth)).
Amazing news...this "sensationalized" mini-series barely scratches the surface of the astounding things Marco Polo reports in his 700 year old tale of travel!
His adventures, many of which are dramatized in this DVD, seemed absolutely unbelievable...until I found most of them proven true in the book... including the story about delivering the princess.
And the romance? Well, I suspect that Marco left quite a few personal facts out of his life in China. So kudos to the scriptwriters who wrote a little love between the lines of his historic journey.
Bottom line - a great film for couples or anyone with an interest in history.
If you just watch the film, marvel that there's more truth in this account than there is fiction! And if you want to know the truth, treat yourself to the book.