Monday, July 21, 2008

Mongol movie review

Wow - what an epic film! Movies made on such an epic sweeping scale are rarely made because of all the things that can go wrong as well as the fact that it will have to have a pretty big budget to pay for big scenes with many extras and costumes etc.(war scenes in particular) It is not much different from planning a military campaign. The obvious major difference is everybody is acting and gets to go home at the end of the day. But the actual planning and mapping out of a such a sweeping over time story with many locations and actors/extras such as this is truly a brave endeavor on everyones part - especially the folks who invested their money to make it a reality. Well - it paid off! This film was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film and it definitely earned it. Russian Director Sergei Bodarous has an amazing eye for majestic sceneries within nature's scape. He seems to be influenced by the Asian aesthetic value of wide open panoramas that engulf the viewer. Led by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano as a young Gehngis Kahn before he took over half the world. His incredible wife was played by an authentic Mongolian actress Khulan Chuluun who was excellent and very beautiful and very powerful . Most of the cast were real Mongolians and were excellent natural actors in front of the cameras. It felt like a documentary sometimes because of the comfort level these native Mongols displayed in front of the camera. A major difference from the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt overly conscious of their jaw line in relation to the camera angle - stiff and very unnatural school of acting that dominates most of Hollywood's leading Men and Women. The child actor ? who played Genghis as a youngster was very cool for a boy so young. Although the story line did repeat itself maybe a few too many times such as Genghis's captures and escapes from the Mongol gangs, the over all strength of the actors performances and the core love story between him and his wife outweighed these few overly repetitive storyline choices. I also wonder how much of this is based on fact and how much is artistic license stretched to the maximum. I have a hard time believing that Genghis Khan was such a honorable person. He killed, raped and pillaged his way around the world. A recent scientific study has stated that around 8% of all Chinese (1.5 billion people) have some of Mr. Khan's genetics in their overall genetic make up. This is testimony to his intense lust that contradicts his monk like dedication to his wife in the film. Story tellers must be careful not to glamorize cold hearted killers such as this Genghis' Kahn and others such as Alexander the not so great. After all what is so great about killing, raping and pillaging people? Although to be fair this story was the about the"Rise of Genghis Kahn" which basically leaves off after he has taken over all the different tribes of Mongolia and it is the beginning of the Mongolian Empire which eventually stretches from Eastern China to all the way to Eastern Europe and all lands in between. It was refreshing to be able to enjoy such a sweeping and majestic epic film on the big screen in the biggest screen viewing space at the Sunshine Theater in the East Village which specializes in showing high quality independent and foreign films.

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