Confessions of a researchaholic

October 29, 2009


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:27 pm
Tags: ,

I watched this movie a few nights ago. It is about Genghis Khan’s early life, between his childhood and his unification of the Mongolian tribes. I guess people might expect or want to see his more (in)famous later life for conquering the entire world, but that belongs to a (rumored) sequel. I actually prefer to watch his early life as that part is less well known.

The movie is unique in several aspects. The dialogues are primarily in Mongolian with occasional Mandarin. Mongolian sounds interesting, kind of halfway between Mandarin and Korean, even though the Mongolian spoken by most actors in the movie are not very authentic. (I have probably heard more authentic ones from real Mongols in Beijing airport.) The scenery is gorgeous, and in fact so difficult to film that the director has been thinking about cutting short or even canceling the sequels. The plot is a bit loose and incoherent, but the style nicely (and maybe coincidentally) reflects the mythological nature of Genghis Khan’s early life and the nomadic Mongolian life style around that time.

The Mongols also possess certain historical fascination to me. The Chinese history books, authored primarily by the Han Chinese, naturally debased the Mongols (and any other ethnic minorities) as barbarians and describe their histories mainly as window dressings of the greatness of the Middle Kingdom. As far as I could recall I have never read a sufficiently accurate and non-biased recount of the Mongolian history. (The history text books authored by the Nationalist government in Taiwan around my time did not even recognize Mongol as an independent country.) This is sad, as the Mongols have made major impacts to world history and geography during their great conquering around the thirteenth century, however short living their empire was. As analyzed by certain historians (e.g. see False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World, by Alan Beattie), the Mongols could be responsible for the formation of dictatorship/authoritarian countries like Russia, Iran, and China, which were actually more liberal than the Europeans prior to the Mongolian invasion.

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