Genghis Khan (meaning "universal ruler") was the title given to the Mongol warrior Temujin, a 13th century tribal chief who echoed the accomplishments of Alexander the Great and founded an empire that swept across Central Asia, China, Russia, the Middle East and even Eastern Europe. Employing audacious battle strategies and novel cavalry tactics, he earned a reputation in history as both a brutal warmonger and a munificent administrator, subjugating millions while also expanding Mongol culture. His empire lasted more than 150 years after his death, and although the following centuries saw a decline in his empire, his last ruling descendent wasn't deposed until early in the 20th century by Soviet forces.
Genghis Khan is one of those historical characters whose colorful exploits capture one's imagination, especially that of boys. Award-winning Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov must have been one of those enchanted youngsters. His Mongol, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film last year, is a vivid historical epic illuminating the life of Genghis Khan, attempting to separate the man from the mythology. The film succeeds as spectacularly as it fails, extrapolating a reasonable narrative from the sketchy details of Temujin's early life while also completely ignoring the very things that made him so memorable.
Mongol begins with a nine-year-old boy whose father is taking him to visit a nearby encampment in order that the child might choose a wife. The young Temujin (Odnyam Odsuren) shows great political instinct and ruthless intuition, even as a youngster, going against his father's wishes and choosing a headstrong girl who, unbeknownst to him at the time, will become his most devoted ally and trusted advisor. It ...1