Friday, 24 March 2017

Genghis Khan (1965)

"It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."

Oh dear. This film is not very good, Where to start? Well, how about with the arse-clenchingly awful fact that all but a very few characters are played by white actors in yellowface, with James Mason's jaw-droppingly stereotyped performance as Kam Ling being quite something to behold. No amount of accounting for the different social mores of 1965 can let us escape from the fact that this is all incredibly racist.

Oh, the location filming looks impressive and epic, and you can tell that the film is trying to be Lawrence of Arabia. But this is somewhat undermined by the fact that this is a film about Genghis Khan that focuses mainly around inter-Mongol squabbling, the extensive interlude in China doesn't particularly involve him conquering the place, and there's a general lack of conquering going on. In fact, late on in the film, a quick burst of narration jumps smoothly over the conquests of China, Russia and India and jumps unconvincingly into the conquest of Khwarezm. Where's all the stuff we want to see in a film about Genghis Khan?

I accept that a film like this has to show a certain amount of historical inaccuracy, but making the film mostly about the rival between Temujin and his Mongol rival Jamuga is such a waste. And so, ultimately, is the film.

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