Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan

Film
3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
This is Genghis: The Early Years, as young tribal warrior Temudgin – the boy who would be Khan – grows to manhood on the remote plains of Central Asia. He fends off enemies, avenges his father’s death and finds true love (and family) with pugnacious bride Borte, before being kidnapped by slave-trading adversaries and unleashing the world-conquering warlord within.

Despite some necessary embellishment, Sergei Bodrov’s expansive biopic hews close to the established facts, painting a vividly accurate portrait of life in this unforgiving region: you can smell the yurts and yak dung. The widescreen landscape photography is often ravishing, grey sky and green grass blurring in soft washes of misty morning pallor as sunlight creeps across the steppes.

But the screenplay’s insistence on depicting only the first two decades of the Khan’s life handicaps the narrative. There’s precious little action before the final, frustratingly truncated battle sequence, which begins well with epic shots of massed horsemen thundering across the screen, but becomes somewhat farcical when weather stops play just as things are getting interesting (it turns out all Mongol warriors are terrified of thunder).

There’s also scant effort made to get inside the head of this ruthless leader: we’re asked to like Temudgin, to respect him as warrior, friend and family man, but our understanding of his motivation remains sketchy. These tribesmen are a taciturn lot, measurable only by their actions, which tend to the extreme.  Still, ‘Mongol’ remains a gracefully mounted, stunningly photographed historical account, fascinating in its attention to detail if somewhat unengaging in its story and characters.

Posted:

Details

Release details

Rated:
15
Release date:
Friday June 6 2008
Duration:
125 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Sergei Bodrov
Screenwriter:
Sergei Bodrov, Arif Aliyev
Cast:
Aliya
Tadanobu Asano
Ying Bai
Tegen Ao