Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan
Time Out says
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.
Cast and crew