By The Will of Genghis Khan

Sunday, 26 September 2010 17:46

Andrei Borissov’s movie charts the birth, childhood and rise to power of the huge historical figure who would become Genghis Khan (or “Ultimate Ruler”) in the late 12th and early 13th Centuries. Khan is famous for pulling together the warring nomadic tribes of Mongolia and using them to establish the largest empire in the history of mankind. It is an epic story of destiny, power, religion, betrayal and love.

Eduard Ondar takes the title role. Khan’s real name was Borjigin Temujin, and from an early age he became friends with two other boys who would become influential men in their own right. One was Jamuka (Orgil Makhaan), who also became a fearsome warrior and leader; the other was Khokochoi (Efim Stepanov), who took the path of the shaman and influenced others by communing with the spirits of heaven and earth.

By the Will of Genghis Khan comes to Blu-ray and DVDThe movie portrays Khan’s life as one of constant struggle, and follows the mantra of strength through adversity. As a young boy, Khan survives a fall into a freezing hole in the ice and is roused from a coma. As he grows up, he is forced to flee his home time after time because of rival claims to the title of clan leader or “Khan”, suffering the emotional pain of being separated from those you love. Each time he vows to return, stronger and ultimately more suited to the position of Khan.

Once in a position of power, Khan’s desire to unite the disparate Mongolian tribes causes plenty of friction and bloodshed before it has been achieved. It is a real case of means justifying the ends in his eyes, as Khan apparently yearned to bring peace to the region, but unfortunately that noble goal proved impossible without overcoming resistance by fighting wars on several fronts.

The movie lives and breathes the Central Asian steppes, and the cinematography is fantastic. The sweeping vistas linger on the breezy grass plains, with jagged mountains in the background and stunning skies above. This natural feel lends the movie a quality closer to a History Channel docu-drama than an outright motion picture.

The slightly austere sensation is built on by the fact that the producers attempt to squeeze in an awful lot of events into a couple of hours. Huge gaps in Khan’s life are skipped over and the audience has to fill in the gaps as best they can, for example imaging how the infantile boy has grown into a capable, bearded man. Personally I could not shake the feeling that the story would suit a mini-series much better, or else the makers should have concentrated on a narrower period in Khan’s life. In comparison to something slick like “Dances with Wolves”, the end result seems to stutter and be disjointed.

On the plus side, the film capably establishes a sense of life in Mongolia in that era. The costumes look extremely authentic, ranging from cloth rags to splendid battle armour. The tent-like abodes the nomads lived in sit in the barren landscape perfectly, and the small but strong Mongolian horses look right at home regardless of the weather the region’s climate throws at them!

The battle scenes are generally quite accomplished, with plenty of tangible contact between weapon and soldier. Sometimes the forces look a little light on numbers (possibly due to budgetary constraints), but only the very end of the movie concerns the establishment of actual armies confronting each other. It is not up to the standards of “Gladiator” or “Braveheart”, but the stunts are still quite impressive.

The disc comes with very slender extras. There is a 15-minute making-of and a trailer.

“By the Will of Genghis Khan” (2009) is out now on DVD (version reviewed) and Blu-ray, courtesy of Manga Entertainment. The running time of the main feature is 122 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’ and the movie retails for £15.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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