Sergei Bodrov of Russia has a penchant for making pictures concerning distinctly important, as well as interesting, matters. His “Prisoner of the Mountains” (1996), for example, deals with friendship and survival in the war between Russia and Chechnya. “Mongol” (with English subtitles) deals with Genghis Khan’s ascent to power in the thirteenth century, i.e. an arduous climb. Khan’s name is Temudgin; the words “Genghis Khan” mean “universal ruler.” On his way to becoming that, Temudgin must fight for his life and suffer kidnappings and the abduction of his beloved wife Borte. He sticks it out, though, and even receives some help from the supernatural world (from the God this pagan does not know is there?) A fine testament to the hero’s growing fortitude arrives after the movie’s final battle. According to the screenplay, the Mongols of old were afraid of thunder, thinking it signified the anger of their god. On the battlefield Temudgin manages not to fear it, and after someone asks him why, he replies, “When the thunder began, there was no place for me to hide [as the other Mongols had found places to hide]. So I was no longer afraid.”
Dana Stevens of Slate.com is quite right that Bodrov’s Genghis Khan is “a little too nice.” He’s pretty much flawless–an artistic blemish. Still, “Mongol” is exciting and grand, of a “Lawrence of Arabia” scale. It stars a pleasant Tadanobu Asano as Temudgin. The best action scene features a flying arrow which hits Temudgin in the back and the deft lassoing of his fleeing wife. Nicely done.
This Weekend hipster movie review is a guest post by my Bro. Dean D.