Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Genghis Craze

This 2007 movie, about the early years of Genghis Khan, deserves a much longer post. The director, Sergei Bodrov sr., is Russian. The film is an international co-production between companies in Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. The lead actor, playing Temujin, is the (very very chirayliq) Tadanobu Asano from Japan. The film was shot in the People's Republic of China, principally Inner Mongolia, and in Kazakhstan. To top it all, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as a submission from Kazakhstan.

(Wait a sec - "Music by Tuomas Kantelinen"? This truly is a pan-Eurasian production... Heart-warming!)

Of course, there's bound to be trouble.

This is not the first movie adaptation of Genghis Khan's life, and I'm sure it won't be the worst (in the fabulous "yellowface" genre, I think John Wayne takes the prize with his incredible line in The Conqueror (1956): "this Tartar for me...and my blood says...take her!!" Oh my Tengri, there's even one with Omar Sharif), though I understand the Mongolian concerns about historical accuracy and respect for their culture.

Especially the Japanese interest in the ancient warlord has been a bit disturbing. In 2007, a Japanese movie was released under the name Aoki Ookami (The Blue Wolf; a.k.a. Genghis Khan - To the Ends of the Earth and Sea). According to an online review, it was a commercial failure in Japan, and the producers scrapped the plans for a sequel. This film was shot entirely in Mongolia, but the leading actors are all Japanese. Takashi Sorimachi (of GTO o_O and Yamato fame) is kawaii. Check out his pout in the beginning of this video.

Ok, getting off topic there...

If you want to see REAL Mongols dressed up and playing Genghis, check out this gallery by Michel Setboun.

PS: An interesting tidbit of information is the fact that the script writer of Mongol, Arif Aliyev, qualifies as a chirayliq. His name sounds Tatar, but it doesn't really matter as much as his friendly smile.

More about Aliyev


Tinet said...

Awww ... Takashi Sorimachi as Onizuka makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Post-Socialist Mongolia (like many other formerly Socialist countries) is still in the stage of hating Russia, so "Mongol" isn't very popular in Mongolia, I guess, being a mainly Russian production.
It's funny how Bodrov says in the "trouble" article that Russians, on the other hand, are upset that they might have come to loving Genghis "too much" ...

Anonymous said...

Dear Ainur, your name is kazakh but you don't have any relations with kazakhs right? Does your name come from Tatar language?
The dombra hero is Asylbek Ensepov he is one of the most famous dombra players in Kazakhstan. He combines the traditional instrument with other modern instruments.

ainur said...

Dear Anonymous, thank you for your comment! I love the sound of dombra.

You are correct, Ainur is a Tatar name. There are a few other Tatars with this name in Finland and Sweden. I know that it is used in Kazakhstan and many other countries, too. In Turkish, it is spelled Aynur. I wonder if the Macedonian name "Ajnur" is related.