The Second Greatest Story Ever Told

The first epic must-see summer film of 2008 has just been released. Do yourself a favor, and go see Mongol. What makes this film so great, and why is it a must see? Funny you should ask. The film is co-written and directed by world renowned Russian writer/director Sergi Bodrov. His name may be unfamiliar with American audiences. But, it won’t be for long. At this time, he is best known for his work on Kavkazskity Plennik (Prisoner of the Mountains, 1996). His most recent mind-blowing piece of cinema Mongol, however, is bound to rise above the precedence set by his previous works.
This film depicts the life and times of Genghis Khan. And let me just tell you, this world has seen its fair share of ass-kicking machines: Napoleon, George Washington, Rosa Parks, Mike Tyson… the list goes on and on, but throughout world history, there haven’t been many bad-asses who were more bad-assed than Genghis Khan. He conquered more land, and more enemies than any other leader that ever existed. And Genghis didn’t have guns or any other form of fancy weaponry. He fought everyone in hand-to-hand combat with fists and swords. The most technologically advanced weapon he used was the bow and arrow.
The film is based on leading scholarly accounts of Khan’s life. It turns out Genghis Khan was more than just a brutal warlord. Keep in mind, our history books were written by many of the people that he conquered in his lifetime. The film Mongol, however, does an excellent job of showing Khan as a three dimensional man. He was a fighter, but he was also a lover. He was strong, but he was also gentle.
The film fades-in when Temudgin (Genghis Khan) is ten years old. He and his father, the chieftain of their Mongolian tribe are traveling to pick out Genghis’ wife-to-be. After selecting the girl that Genghis will marry, he and his father start their journey home. During their travels, Temudgin’s father is poisoned by another Mongolian tribe and dies.
Genghis is next in line to be the chieftain, but another grown man takes over reign, and attempts to have Genghis killed on several occasions. It is Mongolian custom, however, not to kill children. Khan is able to escape, and lives his childhood as a hunted boy with nowhere to turn. Later in his life, Khan is asked by another warlord, “all Mongolians fear thunder, but not you. Why is this?” And Khan responds by saying “Growing up, I had nowhere to go. I had nowhere to run. I sat alone with the thunder, and came to understand it.”

If you would like to read this article in its entirety, be sure to check out the July issue.