Monday, March 16, 2009


I rented the movie Mongol on Netflix this week. I had heard good things about it from friends, and they were right.

It's easiest to enjoy Mongol by viewing it as a Western. It has beautiful scenery and beautiful horses, long scenes with next to no dialog, good guys, bad guys, love, honor, murder and betrayal. The good guy suffers greatly but comes out on top at the end.

The hero is Temudgin, the son of a tribal leader who we first meet when he is nine and follow his life until he is twenty nine. He is better known to world history as Genghis Khan. This is the first of a planned trilogy. The climax of the first part is Temudgin uniting the Mongol tribes. Hope I'm not giving too much away.

The movie was financed by backers in Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Germany. The director is the Russian Sergei Bodrov. I hadn't seen any of his work before. He's very good.

Doing a little research, the film is not an accurate depiction of the life of Temudgin. Very few film biographies are accurate. If historical accuracy was the most important thing about a film, no one would watch John Ford's My Darling Clementine ever again, and that's just crazy talk.

Of course, Mongol isn't exactly a Western. They fight with swords and bows and arrows instead of revolvers and rifles. Their battles are different and they pray to different gods. But seeing this, you can understand why Hollywood tried to tell the story of Genghis Khan using John Wayne in the lead, and why that attempt was a failure. Mongol is the movie the makers of The Conqueror wish they could have made. It would be better to see it on the big screen, where the majestic scenery can be more fully admired, but even on my regular old, non-wide screen, non HDTV set, it's a beautiful film to look at and it tells a compelling story.

Matty Boy says check it out.

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