When I first went to see Mongol at the cinema I was a little disappointed; the film’s trailer had lead me to believe that it was going to be a movie about big, bloody battles, with plenty of action, choreographed beautifully to immerse the viewer in the hectic reality of horse bound warfare.
Mongol however turned out to be quite different; though there were some brutal battle scenes, this was more a story about love, faith and the birth of a legend.
Mongol kicks off with 5-year-old Temüjin (a young Genghis Khan) going on a trip with his father to choose a wife. Headstrong and stubborn, Temüjin chooses a wife from the wrong tribe, which brings problems to his fathers tribe, and ultimately to himself. This is to be typical of Temüjin’s life, as hardship helps strengthen him and gives him a reliance on faith in a higher power.
One of the most remarkable things about Mongol is how beautifully the whole movie is shot. With a paltry budget estimated to be around $20 Million, Sergei Bodrov seems to have squeezed as much as possible out of the resources given, enabling him to produce a historical epic that puts big budget Hollywood affairs to shame.
Historically, Mongol takes some liberties, with Mongol history being oral; Sergei’s main inspiration for the film came from The Secret History of the Mongols, and he freely admits to filling in the blanks with his interpretation of what happened. The movie does take a couple of leaps of faith, but taken in the context of the spirituality of the movie, these leaps fit into the storyline and add to mystique to the legend of Genghis Khan.
If you’re after a sprawling historical epic that actually works, one that has some great family values as well as an interesting look at faith and beliefs, and you don’t mind a bit of graphic, stylised violence, then Mongol is the movie for you. If you’re a little bit squeamish, you’re going to find some scenes a little hard to take, but the overall story more than makes up for a little blood letting.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Rating: R16 – Contains violence
Released on: February 12th, 2009
Year of Original Release: 2007
Stars: Asano Tadanobu, Khulan Chuluun, Honglei Sun
Length (Minutes): 124
Media Format: DVD
Director: Sergei Bodrov