Wednesday, December 30, 2009


One day in the pavilion at Karakorum the great Genghis Khan asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest happiness.

"The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you," responded the officer after a little thought, "and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares."

"Nay," responded the Kahn, "The greatest things in life are to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet - to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best."

There is a recent movie on Genghis Khan, "MONGOL" (2007) or монгол, a Russian movie filmed in Kazakstan, Russia, and Germany.

Genghis Khan is played by the Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. The rest of the cast actors are Chinese, Mongolians, one Kazak and Atlay. Extras were all played by Kazaks.

was directed by Sergei Bodrov. It is the epic tale of how a young boy ascended to become Genghis Khan. Mongol reaches Shakespearean heights in its narrative account of a family that is torn apart, cast aside, and eventually restored to power. A young boy tests his courage against forces determined to destroy him and, through sheer force of will, wins out.

Nine-year-old Temudgin sets off with his father, a khan, to search for a bride. Travelling across the region’s stark and beautiful tundra, Temudgin sees a girl whom he proclaims to be his wife, though his choice runs counter to his father’s wishes. But Temudgin’s life instantly changes when a group of Tartars poison his father. Even though he is next in line to rule, the rest of the tribe refuses to accept leadership from a young boy. They cast out his entire family, forcing them to eke out a meagre existence.

An epic of courage and resourcefulness follows, as the boy becomes a man, finds the girl whom he had chosen as his bride all those years ago, and gradually reasserts his claim to the leadership of his kingdom. Temudgin’s picaresque journey sees him descend to the depths of slavery before exacting his revenge and reascending to the heights of power he knew as a young boy. This saga plays out against the stunning landscapes of Central Asia, where tribal loyalties rule and violent warfare trumps other means of resolving differences.

The grand canvas of the storyline clearly stimulates Bodrov, and he relishes the visual opportunities afforded in the scenes of realistic warfare. But he also finds ample time for the quiet moments between Temudgin, his wife and his beloved mother. Family forms the bedrock of behaviour, and Bodrov constantly returns to this idea in re-imagining a vital period of Mongol history.

Scenes from the movie:

"Malım – janımnıñ sadağası, Janım – arımnıñ sadağası"

"Sacrifice your riches for your life, Sacrifice your life for your honor"



  1. Very similar to Conan the Barbarian (1982), according to IMDB:

    Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
    Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
    Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
    Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
    Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

    Hey, its testosterone-laden either way. Amen.

  2. In Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, the mostly toothless Cohen the Barbarian is asked the same question. As the world's oldest barbarian hero, his answer is

    "Hot water, good dentishtry, and soft lavatory paper."