| This historical epic traces the life of Genghis Khan from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny.
The movie directed and co-written by Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov was one of the five finalists for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. It was the official submission by Kazakhstan.
The movie flashes back 20 years to show Khan, whose birth name was Temudgin, as a 9-year-old boy and son of a tribal leader. He chooses Borte of the Merkit clan as his bride. The movie centers on his lifelong relationship with her.
This is a well-made film in all technical aspects. The cinematography, sound, production design, costumes and breathtaking landscapes are first-class.
The story seems incomplete and sketchy with lots of gaps. There are several horse-mounted chases, a series of captures and escapes and three bloody battles.
It is unclear how Temudgin acquired his fighting skills and raised such a massive army. The final decisive battle is too short and difficult to discern from the outfits which side the combatants are on.
Although the running time is around two hours, it feels twice as long. The movie turns tedious after the first half. This is supposedly the first installment of a trilogy. The movie was shot on location in Kazakhstan and the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia.
The film captures the nomadic lifestyle and the necessity of a horse to endure the harsh climate and navigate the varying terrain of the Mongolian Steppe. You feel like you have been transported back to the 12th century. You become versed in the unique tribal customs and traditions.
The lead is played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. He has very expressive eyes which contain lots of emotion. It is easy to envision how his brave and fierce personality carried him to a lofty place in history. The large-scale battle scenes are impressively staged and extremely bloody. The sex sequences are veiled and very discreet. The Mongolian dialogue is translated into English with short and easy-to-read subtitles. Now playing exclusively at the Tivoli.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"