In the 12th century, Mongolia was a land divided into tribes which were
constantly at war with one another, & with great regularity, tribesmen
would kidnap beautiful women from other tribes to become their wives - as
did Yesugai, leader of the Kiyad. Soon, seh would bear him a son, Temujin,
who would eventually be engaged to Börtie, daughter of a rival clan's
leader, to make peace between the 2 clans.
At the rival clan, with Börtie, Temujin led a relatively happy life
... until his father was assassinated, & Temujin has to return to the
Kiyads & wants to take over leadership - despite his very young age.
The Kiyads though don't want a little boy as their leader & abandon
Temujin & his family to live on their own somewhere in the desert.
There the family survives just barely, mainly eating the rodents they can
find, but when one of his brothers eats more than his ration, Temujin
slays him to set an example.
Eventually, Börtie comes to live with Temujin, even though his abode
is a hut in the middle of nowhere ... somehow they are happy nevertheless,
until his mother's tribe kidnaps Börtie, as a (late) revenge for his
father kidnapping his mother. Unable to find assistance from his own tribe
the Kiyads, he turns to the tribe of his father's brother in arms Lord
Zhanule for help, even if Zhanule asks for Temujin's mother to become his
hostage during Temujin's campaign against his mother's tribe - & mum
becomes a hostage willingly.
After many fierce battles, Temujin can lead his men to victory ... but
he is shocked to find Börtie, whom he hasn't seen for one year, is
pregnant, a fact that he can't accept, even if she was pregnant from a
Only his mother shows sympathy with Börtie ...
Later teh Tartars attack Mongolia, & the Mongolian tribes decide
that Temujin should be their joint leader. Temujin defeats teh Tartars,
but sees that Lord Zhanule is now their ally, Lord Zhanule who not only
lent him his tribe for his campaign, but was also instrumental in his
birth (which he realises just now). Suddenly he can't kill the man, &
with the help of his mother, he learns to see the biger picture ... &
seeing the bigger picture makes him forgive Börtie (for somehthing she
hasn't done in the first place) & finally unite Mongolia under his
rule by 1206, & Temujin has resumed the name Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan, who appears in Western-produced movie most often as evil
incarnate, is here shown in a very differentiated light. However, while
the film paints beautiful if conventional tableaus based on the historical
facts, it doesn't succeed in capturing the emotional dimension of the
proceedings, especially what happens to the film's hero Temujin (& let's face it,
quite a few things happen to him).