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In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the occupying army. However he is captured when the army tries to requisition cattle from the herdsmen at the same time as the commandant meets with the reincarnated Grand Lama. After being shot, the army discovers an amulet that suggests he was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. They find him still alive, so the army restores his health and plans to use him as the head of a Mongolian puppet regime. Written by
"Possess your soul in patience!" my grandmother used to chide me until I could settle down and get with whatever new experience I was about to endure--and learn from. Today's viewer will need to do the same to get with the unusual rhythms of this amazing saga--with the mediocre print, with a narrative that at first seems scattered, and with a culture totally different from much of anything encountered today. But it is worth it, and by the end, you may be totally mesmerized by the quiet force of a man who inadvertently becomes a hero, by powerful film editing from Podovkin that steadily reaches a stunning conclusion, and, if you allow yourself to immerse yourself in Mongolia in the early part of the last century, an experience unlike anything in modern film.
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