Mongol: a movie

mongolMongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (2007) Mongolian (wiki).
A Russian film but in the Mongolian language using a Japanese actor as Genghis.

I loved this film! It is meant to be part of a trilogy which may follow. It changed my view of Genghis Khan who I viewed only as a simple murderous evil man. To be sure I wasn’t watching an idealized fiction, I followed it by watching Genghis Kan: Terror and Conquest — an excellent documentary by A&E which confirmed much of the history behind the film. Watching these films works so much better for me than reading books.

Here are a few of the many thoughts I had while watching the film:

  • Like Mohammed, he desired to unit the Mongols, who were divided and weak prior.
  • His love of his language — and indeed, I love the sound of Mongolian
  • How he used rule of law (Yassa) to establish rule
  • The unique spirit of this man
  • His religious tolerance & the magical religious aspects of his history
  • How our history is dependent on one document “The Secret History of the Mongols”. Genghis died in 1227, the book was written shortly thereafter.  Surviving texts were from the 1300s in Chinese. They were translated back into Mongolian around 1915, then discovered in the West by a German who reconstructed the origional text in a 1937 translation.  Well, I am not clear on all that, but that is close. The point, we are dependent on one text for his biography. If that had not survived, we’d be dependent on stories by those who he conquered.  Can we trust this source.  I don’t know, but I love the story.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “Mongol: a movie

  1. I need to start blogging again, just to keep a record of which movies I’ve watched. I saw this in the theater when it came out, and enjoyed it. I had completely forgotten about it until you posted this.

  2. So, Mike, do you remember if it changed your view of the Khan?

  3. Funny, isn’t it, that some prominent historical figures are characterized as “great” and some others as “evil”. As you said, Genghis Khan is considered evil, but Alexander as great. How much of this is true and how much fiction? We will probably never know. These characterizations depend on what follows after these people die, who the winners are, and so on. For Mongols, Genghis Khan is, I think, a great figure, but not so for Europeans. For Greeks (and, by extension, some Europeans), Alexander is great, but probably not so for those whom he slaughtered en masse.

    Some killers in history are glorified, but some others, perhaps lesser killers, are vilified.

    By the way, did you know of the only Buddhist state in Europe, that is, Kalmykia? It is largely populated by Mongols, survivors of Stalin’s cleansing, who speak a language very close to Mongolian, and have the same kind of music as Mongolians. Some of them can also be found in New Jersey.

  4. @Sabio: I did. I love when films or books can show the human side of historical figures.

  5. Great, I am trying to write it up now for you. This would be easier by Skype or …

  6. rautakyy

    It has been such a long time when I saw the film, that I really can not recall wether it dramatically changed my view on Genghis Khan, or not. But I do think it brought up a new angle on him. What I do remember is, that I liked the film. Partly because the Genghis character reminds me very much of a dear friend of mine.

    I must agree with Takis Konstantopoulos. Ask any Zoroasterian, wether Alexander of Macedonia was great, or what…

    Why DO the westerners often see Genghis Khan as evil? What did he ever do to them, or their ancestors? On the other hand, should we not be abhorred by any empirebuilder who conquers other nations/tribes by force?

  7. His son threatened Europe, if I remember correctly. Big worry back in the 1300s, I think

  8. @rautakyy:
    And, mind you, I’m Greek, so, if I took the “patriotic stand”, I should shout that Alexander was Great and the greatest of all. But I don’t like taking sides. For I feel that patriotism, of this sort, is irrational.

    On the other hand, should we not be abhorred by any empirebuilder who conquers other nations/tribes by force?

    Are you joking? Of course we should. But, in reality, we are not allowed to. The conquerors out there will crush anyone who thinks otherwise. Wars will be conducted, countries will be conquered, and this will keep going on for a while, until, at least, humans learn to use their brains or become extinct (whichever comes first.)

  9. marfin

    Its great how you loved so much the story of a mass murderer and rapist, but have no love for the story of Jesus a peaceful and loving man.
    And oh how eager you are to accept the record of his life may be factual ,but the story of jesus is just made up, although the new testament far outweighs it in terms of numbers of manuscripts etc.

  10. @ marfin,
    Well, I am equal handed, I love the story of the fictional King David too. I read my kids the Mahabharata — which wins hands down in terms of murder. And I even read my story about the Holy Spirit killing those New Testament church tithers who cheated.

    But your rant here makes me reconsider becoming a Christian again. I want to be like you.

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