Director Sergei Bodrov sets his sights on an ambitious trilogy of films based on actual Mongolian texts which recount the early years of famous conqueror Genghis Khan. In this first breathtaking film, the story centers on his troublesome childhood, and early adulthood as he rises from slave to leader of much of the known world.
The film begins when his father is poisoned on a trip to pick out a bride for young nine-year old Temudjin (who later becomes Genghis). With his father, and tribal Khan dead, a power struggle ensues and Temudjin is captured by the newly self-proclaimed Khan. Temudjin escapes and is captured again several times before joining forces with Jamukha, another tribal Khan who helps Temudjin rescue his bride from a violent tribe with past grudges against Temudjin’s father. After they win this battle, many of Jamukha’s warriors defect and now support Temudjin, setting up a deadly battle between the two friends, and for the rightful claim of Khan.
On its own, Mongol is a true historical masterpiece, a compelling drama, and an incredibly shot film. One hopes Director Bodrov is able to complete the final two chapters of this ambitious trilogy, but even if he doesn’t, this film stands as a remarkable achievement. The film is breathtaking unlike any other historical film in recent memory. With its seemingly endless, gorgeous vistas and scenery, phenomonal set pieces, amazing costumes, and great acting, the film is a pleasant surprise for historical movie buffs and the casual film goer alike. The film is almost immediately engrossing, and sucks you in with the tender, emotional storyline early on of Temudjin’s father dying, his imprisonment, escapes, and undying love for his bride to be, Borte.
Wiether all of the film is historically accurate, I cannot say, and there is one or two holy unbelievable sequences near the end of the film, but despite them, the film is engaging, and remarkable to see unfold. Even more amazing is the fact that we almost forget this is the tale of young Genghis Khan, whose name isn’t heard and doesn’t even appear until the final frames. What makes this possible is the writing, the flawless cineamatography, and the amazing acting of all the actors in the movie, including all the younger actors in the first act of the film.
Overall a highly recommended, and highly enjoyable historical epic easily on par with the best American films of the past 20 years. Also, the film leaves you wanting more, and we can only hope to get the final two films of this amazing tale.