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Jul 30, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Mongol

Part Gladiator, part 300 and part World History course, Mongol is a slow-moving yet interesting and educational drama about the youth and legacy of Genghis Khan. Telling a 900-year old story with little documented facts to go by, director Sergei Bodrov has constructed a taut, beautiful and sometimes brutal film that more than deserved its place among the Foreign Language Film nomination at the 2007 Academy Awards.

Like the results of a miracle weight loss pill that you'd see hocked on TV, your experience with Genghis Khan might have been different than mine, but I think it's fair to say that anyone school in the United States is given a very limited view of 12th century Asia. Unless you specifically took some Asian studies courses in high school or college, you're probably in the same boat I was going into Mongol; my knowledge of Genghis could probably be best summarized as follows: warlord, killed lots of people, ruled Mongolia, was picked up by Bill & Ted for their history report. Not surprisingly, there's a lot more to the man.

That said, the story isn't entirely unique. If you've seen any number of rise-to-glory epics, you'll catch on quickly to the basics. Temudjin (his given name) is born into minor nobility, endures a practically cursed life, meets girl, loses girl, fights to get girl back - rinse, lather, and repeat. Along the way, he divines much knowledge from the land and its people, eventually leading a massive army and uniting the assorted tribes of the Mongol Empire.

Filmed on location in Mongolia and Kazakhstan, Bodroz takes a harsh, arid landscape and squeezes every drop of beauty out of it. Even more amazing is that he made the two-hour epic with an astonishingly low 20 million dollar budget. So if you're in the mood for a Crouching Tiger-like romance, a Braveheart-like tale of freedom, or just a mild "history" lesson, check out Mongol. Or if you just like good filmmaking.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"

7 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Mongol"

Daniel G. said...

I just know I'll regret missing this at the end of the year. No one has declared it an out and out masterpiece, but enough people have recommended it, and there's no way it will look as good outside of the theater.

Fletch said...

It's worth your time, but I wouldn't fret too much if you didn't catch it.

Though I was shocked that you didn't see this. I went looking for reviews, knowing you'd be someone that had certainly seen it, but nada. I'm terribly disappointed in you, and I don't know if I can forgive you. :P

Mrs Fletch said...

@ Daniel G - The movie is quite good, it's also VERY beautiful... the sweeping panoramic shots and costuming are amazing! It'd be a shame if you don't see it on the big-screen.

Daniel G. said...

Haha, I beg for forgiveness. Seriously I probably passed up about five chances to see this one for no good reason. Well I was out of town for a week, so there's one excuse. But it was definitely here long enough. Thanks to both of you for making me feel even worse about it...

Nayana Anthony said...

This was Nathaniel & my first date. I actually saw it twice.

OK, I may be just really off, but did you notice a bunch of Star Wars parallels? There was a moment in the soundtrack that sounded just like the Emperor's theme... The wife had a severe Amidala moment... I know there was more. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

Fletch said...

Awww...first date with Nate. :)

Haha, no, I'm afraid I didn't pick up on any of that. But I do kinda see what you mean.

"Obi Wan has been saying terrible things!"

WaywardJam said...

It was in my town for all of a week before vanishing. Me and the wife will definitely catch it when we can. She loves scenery and I'm always up for a good epic.