This is an extraordinary film - you won't see another quite like it. It tells of the childhood, young manhood and coming to power of Khan Termudgin - Genghis Khan. It has, I think been a labour of love for the director, Serge Bodrov, and he has done a remarkable job. I heard a talk about it on the radio, an academic claiming that Genghis had been seen only through the eyes of those whom he conquered, and that, though indeed a great general capable of wielding power decisively to the point of ruthlessness, he was in fact forward-looking and in some ways more merciful than others of his time (the 12th. Century). Whatever the truth of the matter, this film certainly makes a case for him. He is nine when it begins, choosing a bride to whom he remains faithful through every conceivable difficulty, watching the murder of his father, enduring the hatred of adult enemies, enormous physical discomfort and several unlucky quirks of fate. The whole thing is set in amazing landscapes, in Mongolia or North China I presume, and has a visual vastness and strangeness that is very compelling. So, too, is the eerie guttural throat music of the men, and the wonderful skin and fur costumes (especially the hats). It's a love story and works on that level. It also shows how a man like Termudgin could win great power against all the odds, and he is clearly a hero in this film.There are wolves, tremendous thunderstorms, wonderful horsemanship, an apocalyptic battle, terrifying Merkits (a rival tribe who wore skins over their faces to terrify their enemies), a breath-taking recreation of the border city in Tangut Province and, when needed, a cast of thousands (though in fact a surprising amount of the film is quite intimate). There are leaps in the narrative, but strangely that seems almost a benefit, mirroring the forward bounding of the old ballad style, where you are happy to take some things as read. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I think most people would.
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