Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan (15)
Sergei Bodrov's biggest and best film to date bursts from the screen to take you on an epic adventure through the early life of Genghis Khan and his rise to power.
Mongol, The Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film 2008, was shot in Kazakhstan and Inner Mongolia, where Bodrov recreates nomadic Mongolian culture of the early 12th century.
The savagery of the feuding climate between tribes leads to a young Genghis (aka Temudgin, played by Odnyam Odsuren) becoming a target after his father, the clan leader, is poisoned by Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov), a fellow tribesman.
Being a wanted man and on the run inevitably leads to a difficult existence for Temudgin, inhabiting the unforgiving, rugged Mongolian terrain. After years of living as a fugitive, Temudgin is captured by Taragutai.
Throughout his exile, Temudgin has honed his skills to become a supreme warrior, who fears nothing.
It's not long before he makes a speedy getaway after pouncing on his captor's weaknesses.
Throughout the many difficult years, his morale is kept alive by remaining faithful to Borte the bride he chose at the tender age of nine.
Upon his escape, he goes back to find Borte, but it's not long before battle ensues and she is captured by the Merkits.
Temudgin returns to his blood brother, Jumukha, who found him facedown in the snow in the early years of his isolation. Together they plot to free Borte from the merciless Merkits.
This is just one of the many jawdropping battle scenes that delivers the reality of barbarianism, accompanied with the stunning Mongolian backdrop and beautifully framed scenes.
Throughout the film we see Temugdin grow into a great leader,
but he does this through compassion for his fellow man, rather than ruling by fear.
Jumukha's authority is challenged as his clan feel a warmth from Temudgin, who is second-in-command, that they don't receive from Jumukha.
For Temudgin to be playing second fiddle to a lesser leader prompts the great man to return to his ancestral land with Borte and his evergrowing tribe.
His leadership is never questioned and, although with fewer men than Jamukha and Targutai, who unite in an attempt to defeat Temudgin, he carries on regardless.
Facing two vast armies with a reduced clan, Temudgin leads a strategic operation in valiant fashion, but even the greatest optimist could predict that this was a losing battle from the outset.
Instead of death, he is sold into slavery and eventually caged like an animal in Tangut Kingdom, where he is mocked and paraded for all to see, but despite the pent up aggression building inside, his exterior remains calm.
He is used to biding his time, and even after a difficult incarceration period, he remains focused on his goal of returning to his tribe as leader.
After coming to an agreement with a monk, to spare the monastery on his
release, he gets a message to Borte, who then frees the man who goes forth to impose the rule of law on the tribes and Mongol lands, conquer more territory than any warrior and become khan (supreme ruler) of all Mongols.
The film defies all expectations. It goes beyond anything that has been brought to the cinema before with its historical and incredibly accessible context that doesn't fail to stir every emotion. Truly breathtaking.
Pierce Hunt 10/10