Photo taken at: Mongolian Film Festival, Russian Cultural Center, Chennai, India. Present at the Diaz are: Sanjaasuren Bayaraa, Ambassador of Mongolia in India & Mr. B. Sashi Kumar, President of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce.
To encourage cultural interaction between India and Mongolia, the Mongolian Film festival was held recently at the Russian Cultural Center, Kasturi Rangan Road, Chennai, India. They screened four films, and I watched two. Here’s my review of the first film screened on the day the film festival was inaugurated –
Mongol: The Rise of Chengis Khan is a Mongol movie released in 2007. This movie was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language movie. The version shown to us had English subtitles so we could follow it. It’s an excellently made movie (technically) and had me hooked to the events and happenings.
It seems, the movie is a semi-historical file. It chronicles the early life of the well-known Mongol emperor Chengis Khan, who lived in the 12th Century. I am not sure how much of this movie is based on facts and history, but it seems to be a romanticized version of history that seeks to portray him in a positive light. Maybe he was really like that, we can’t be sure.
My impression about Chengis Khan was a ruthless conqueror who is obsessed with conquering the world (forgive my limited knowledge of History). But nobody becomes ruthless unless life (and people) force it on them. That aspect, the devastating early life of the Khan, has been brought about very well in this movie. Be it losing his father and Kingdom at an early age, escaping from his captors multiple times, losing his wife and children to enemies, etc. One can’t help being sympathetic to his apathy.
But extreme disaster (if you survive it) makes people stronger, and even ruthless, and forces them to take difficult but inevitable choices. That’s exactly what happens to Chengis Khan as he turns against his saviour and (soul) brother, who eventually becomes his biggest nemesis in uniting Mongol territory.
At one point (in the movie) his wife points to him that people were only stealing and killing each other in Mongolia, and he determines to put an end to it through strong laws, and in his own words – “Even if I have to kill half of Mongolia to achieve it.”. This is the case with many civilizations – we have paid a huge price to achieve order and discipline.
This is one movie that everyone needs to see to understand the adverse situations faced by the Khan that made him a ruthless conqueror. And yes, we can’t judge his activities as we were never in his shoes, but this movie does an excellent job of putting us into his shoes as much as possible.
Technically, this is a very well made movie, and it held my interest throughout. I just felt it could have been more honest right from Khan’s character selection (who looked softer), and not try to justify the King’s actions. At least I thought the movie makers were trying to do that! Also, some more light on the various war strategies and techniques invented and used by the Khan could have been included.
Verdict: Excellent storytelling. If you want to have an emotional experience and get ‘moved’, this is THE movie to watch. However, read a history book or Wikipedia if you want to get a more authentic account.
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