An amalgam of influences ranging from "Ivan the Terrible" (gloom-filled court intrigues) to "Andrei Rublev" (horses and grisly executions) to "Conan the Barbarian" (exotic sex scene), with quite a lot of Kurosawa (an array of Toshiro Mifune character types from the various stages of his career) thrown in as well - making a unique whole. Inexplicably shot on both color and black and white stock with little transitional logic. At times threatening to lapse into incoherence, but never quite abandoning the audience. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Amirkulov must have been enjoying almost total artistic freedom: as evidenced by the near-constant violence, a good deal of nudity, and plenty of religious discussion, no censorship of any kind has been imposed by the state.
Amazingly enough, this is an altogether compelling, thought-provoking and even historically accurate (more so than "Gladiatior", at any rate) picture. Some background in Ghengis Khan's 13th century conquests does help understand the proceedings, but is not necessary. If anything, do the research after the film (like I did) and see it again (like I hopefully will if it's ever released in a digital format). Given the very limited budget of the filmmakers, some of what they achieved here is truly impressive (and surely more authentic and heartfelt than any latest computer-generated imagery).
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