During the 1200s, young Marco Polo, joins his father Niccolò and his uncle Matteo, who recently returned from China, and prepares to visit the Pope who summoned them. The Pope entrusts the Polo family with a trade mission to China and with a personal message of peace for China's Emperor Kublai Khan. Unknown to all of them is the fact that the peaceful Kublai Khan is facing a treasonous dissension among his Mongol war chieftains, led by his war-loving son. His son wants the throne for himself and desires to destroy all Chinese subjects, in favor of his Mongol ones. He also wants to invade Europe and avail himself of slaves, territory and spoils of war. In Venice, the Polos board a ship for the Holly Lands, presently occupied by the Crusaders. From there, they are to proceed by caravan, overland, to Samarkand and eventually reach Peking. However, the overland route passes through several kingdoms, caliphates and wild rugged regions inhabited by unwelcoming warlike tribes. The route also...Written by
West is where he finds the Cave of Assassins...listens to the bell that drives men mad...feels the whip girl's lash. But East is where he defeats armies...conquers women...runs into moving belly dancers...and plays with inscrutable beauties that are hotter than gun powder! See more »
When filming was resumed in late 1963, having been originally abandoned the previous year for lack of funding (or a coherent script), an entirely new cast was assembled with a new director. There still wasn't a script. See more »
Immediate background:once upon a time there was a veteran called Christian -Jaque He had big ambitions: a production which would have no cause to be jealous of Hollywood.The highlight was to be a giant chess game (hence the previous title :"God's chessboard!").Alain Delon was Marco.Endless problems of production led Christian-Jaque to call it a day.
Hence this movie ,much less ambitious in scope ,which was made by the odd job man of the French cinema ,Denys de la Patellière .Delon was replaced by his German equivalent ,Horst Buchholz -the younger generation saw as the doctor in "la vita è bella"- and a cast of thousand was gathered:Orson Welles and Akim Tamiroff,Kirk Douglas's ex-protégée Elsa Martinelli,Anthony Quinn,Omar Sharif,Gregoire Aslan ...is that all? On his way to China ,Marco will meet wicked people (Tamiroff's "Old man in the Mountains" ) attractive ones (Venice's women with whom he cuckolds all the husbands;the woman with the whip);traitors (the Mongolian prince),but,as history books tell ,and tell it so well,he will succeed and occident will make friends with orient.
Thanks to the cast,and to a far-fetched but entertaining story,it's watchable.More than the version featuring Rory Calhoun (1961).
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