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Genghis Khan

China 1998
produced by
Seasonal Film Co, Inner Mongolia Film Studio
directed by Sai Fu, Ma Lisi
starring Aliya, Tuman
screenplay by Ran Ping

Genghis Khan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 rape.

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).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD