Genghis Khan was a Lover, Not a Fighter

June 5, 2008


The award-winning, Russian film Mongol – a fictionalization of the early years of Genghis Khan – has its limited U.S. release tomorrow (June 6th).  I am as pleased as a pillager. It’s subtitled, but there’s not much lost in translation when Genghis Khan rides through battle with two scimitars carving a gauntlet of spraying blood.  Interestingly, though, director Sergei Bodrov has set out to show us the gentler side of Khan.

Filmstalker has a good Q&A with Bodrov in which he talks about how polarizing a character Kahn is in the East.  He is hated by the Russians, he explains, and is still blamed for contemporary social problems.  But while they see him as a barbaric warlord, the Mongols are fiercely proud and defensive of his legacy/legend.

Genghis thought of himself as an instrument of God.  So did the Mongols.  Many still do, in fact.  His empire reached even further than Alexander the Great’s.  You know what his most successful legacy was, though?  The thing that I’m hoping will make it into the film?  Populating the world with .5% of its males.  This guy liked to get down.

And that’s (kinda) what Bodrov wants to show: Khan wasn’t “born a monster.”  He was a hunted, extraordinary man who fell in and out of love (a lot).  Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of violence, but on hearts and bones alike.