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Mongol - Movie Review

Category: , , , By Manu
After a long wait, I finally had a chance to watch the much talked about Mongol, which recently bagged the Best Foreign Language award by the The National Board of Review. The movie, directed by Sergei Bodrov, tells us the childhood and early manhood of the Mongolian Ruler, Genghis Khan, who ruled half of the known world in the 1200's.

The movie opens with a Mongolian proverb- "Do not scorn the weak cub, For he may turn out to be a son of a tiger". We follow Temudgin, which was his real name before he was bestowed the ceremonious title of Khan, right from when he was 9 years old. The directors firm belief that to understand a man you have to understand the child is reflected well here. We see 9 year old Temudgin being taken to the Merkit clan by his father to choose his bride. They stay over at a friend's clan overnight and Temudgin ends up choosing 10 year old Borte as his wife, and thus sparking the fuse to violence which scars most of his childhood.

The enmity provoked by Temudgin choosing Borte sparks off a series of events which led to the poisoning of his father on the way back, and the usurping of the Khan title by the old man's rival Targutai. Targutai vows to kill Temudgin once he gets older and thus begins a life on the run, and a cycle of capturing and escaping which scars his childhood.

After a quick leap in time we meet Temudgin, who is a young man now, who finds his wife, Borte after long years. But their happiness is soon cut short by the Merkit showing up and capturing Borte. Temudgin soon turns to his childhood friend, Jamukha, to help him win Borte back, in spite of Jamukha's advice to get a new woman and forget about Borte. With the help of Jamukha he goes on to rescue Borte, and then through a series of events become the "Khan of Khans" in Mongolia.

It isn't easy to change the face of a known historic figure so drastically and actually pull it off. The fist thing that comes to our mind when we hear about Genghis Khan is an image of a barbaric despot who kills everybody kin and enemy alike. Till now every director who has tackled the subject of Genghis Khan has pictured his to be a maniacal barbarian who doesn't even have an ounce of mercy. But Sergei Bodrov shows us the other side of the man we know as Genghis Khan- the undying romantic, the caring father, the loyal friend.

Temudgin is portrayed as a doting husband to Borte. He is seen treating her as an equal, listening to her advice, and putting love before career in many occasions. He accepts her children, begot by other men raping her, without even an angered face. He is seen as a caring and loving father to his children enlightening us on the possibility that contrary to the popular portrayal of Genghis Khan, he might as well be a "man" after all.

Since it is a Genghis Khan movie, the battle scenes, blood and gore are unavoidable. The director treats the battle scenes with just the enough amount of style to get us excited and at the same time avoiding the battle overshadow the characterizing he has done deftly. The cinematography is simply breathtaking utilizing the desolate, yet beautiful, spots in Mongolia. Black horse-riding mongols riding across the horizons of beautiful Mongolia is a sight in itself to behold. The rise of Temudgin to Genghis Khan is shown with uncanny ability. Temudgin, who is shown to be different in his steely stubbornness and pride which makes him surrender to no one, captures your heart just like Mel Gibson did in his epic Braveheart.

My Verdict - The movie, directed by Sergei Bodrov, tells us the childhood and early manhood of the Mongolian Ruler, Genghis Khan, who ruled half of the known world in the 1200's. It isn't easy to change the face of a known historic figure so drastically and actually pull it off. The cinematography is simply breathtaking utilizing the desolate, yet beautiful, spots in Mongolia. Black horse-riding mongols riding across the horizons of beautiful Mongolia is a sight in itself to behold. Temudgin, who is shown to be different in his steely stubbornness and pride which makes him surrender to no one, captures your heart just like Mel Gibson did in his epic Braveheart. But don't go in to see another Braveheart cause in Mongol, the human side of the story is given more weightage over the battle. What this movie does to the barbaric image Hollywood was so glad in stamping Genghis Khan is yet to be seen. If anyone who doesn't know anything about Genghis Khan goes into the theater to see this movie, he will have a whole new image of Genghis Khan- stubborn, prideful, excellent strategist, caring father, loving husband.



Buy the DVD and watch it at home, or store away in your collection. It is a movie worth that position. You can buy it here at Amazon
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2 comments so far.

  1. Jamie: December 10, 2008 at 12:25 PM
    I thought this movie was beautiful. Other than the reasons you mentioned, what I liked most about it was the scenery. I've heard and seen pictures of the vast Mongolian landscape, but it was such a vital part of this movie, almost like another character. It was also cool to hear the Mongolian language spoken, how often do we get to hear that?
  2. Manu December 10, 2008 at 2:30 PM
    Of course..I agree completely with you Jamie. I didnt know Mongolia was so beautiful till I saw the movie. And Also Mongolian language used added a bit to the reality of the movie.. I heard this is the first part of a trilogy the director is planning.. wow..

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