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The movie is an epic story of a young Genghis Khan and how events in his early life lead him to become a legendary conqueror. The 9-year-old Temüjin is taken on a trip by his father to select a girl as his future wife. He meets Börte, who says she would like to be chosen, which he does. He promises to return after five years to marry her. Temüjin's father is poisoned on the trip, and dies. As a boy Temüjin passes through starvation, humiliations and even slavery, but later with the help of Börte he overcomes all of his childhood hardships to become one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known. Written by
Director Sergey Bodrov and Production Designer Dashi Namdakov visited Mongolia's chief shaman in the capital city of Ulan Bator, so that they could ask permission to film a movie about Genghis Khan's life. The shaman told them that of all the people who have talked about making such a film, they were the only ones to ask his permission. See more »
The Mongolian tribes, including the hordes that conquered their vast empire, rode on a very peculiar race of horses, stocky build, with relatively short legs and a large head. The horses used in the movie look like ordinary western horses See more »
Now you're Khan and I'm at your feet. Are you happy?
I forgive you, brother.
It's too late. I'll always be a rock in your boot.
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An epic vision that works better as a work of fiction
Sergei Bodrov's Mongol provides something of a biography of the early years of Genghis Khan, at this point known as Temudjin. The film is destined to be historically flawed as there is little known about his life; this being said, Bodrov takes large handfuls of creative license. Bodrov's Mongol attempts to capture a man's rise to power in just two hours without making a rushed film; this impossible feat is Mongol's only true shortcoming.
Mongol is very much a "based off a true story" kind of movie. We certainly aren't seeing the true Genghis Khan. The film is riddled with historical inaccuracies, he is captured three times during the film, in reality he was only captured once. However, historical accuracy is not Bodrov's intent. Sergei Bodrov, grew up in the Soviet Union, a place where Genghis Khan is painted as a vicious killing machine. Mongol attempts to humanize him. This is the film's strongest point.
Mongol is just a good love story. Temudjin picks a bride at age nine named Börte and is set to wed her in five years. Soon after his father, a Khan, is killed. Betrayed by those his father used to command, Temudjin is left with nothing and swears to take it all back. This is the basic premise of Mongol. The relationship between Temudjin and Börte is portrayed as beautifully simple love. The film uses this connection to move the plot rather than bloody violence. Mongol does, however, contain several spectacular battles. Bodrov seems to have taken a page out of 300 and we're given a splattering of death sequences that while all together different feel and are shot similarly.
The largest flaw of the film is it's continuity. Bodrov, in order to condense the story under 120 minutes constantly cuts scenes in half. He will start a conflict and cut to it being over, leaving the audience to infer what happened. This is a double edged sword, on one hand it frees up time for necessary character development, on the other it makes the film feel choppy. Mongol is one of the few films that should be 15 minutes longer.
In the end, Sergei Bodrov's Mongol is an epic war film that succeeds not only on that level, but as a beautiful love story. The breathtaking landscapes of Mongolia provide an awe inspiring backdrop for the action on the screen. Mongol is a film of proportions not usually seen in Russian or Asian cinema. It delivers on a level that rivals if not surpasses many Hollywood blockbusters while keeping surprising heart evident throughout the film. Mongol truly is an inspiring film not only for the eyes.
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