Mongol, Mongol, Who's Got Mongol - Complications Ensue
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Monday, March 10, 2008

The one movie at the Oscars that I'd really LIKE to watch, and it's not even on DVD. In fact, it's not even in the queue at Zip.

C'mon. The story of Genghis Khan, a slave who became ruler of the greatest empire in history? Who doesn't want to see that? Sex, death, and horses?

I used to wonder how the Arabs went from the most technologically and philosophically advanced civilization in the West to, well, not. The short answer: the Mongols destroyed all their greatest cities except for Cairo. And when I say, "destroyed," I mean, "slaughtered everyone they couldn't send as slaves to Mongolia" and "leveled the place so that grass grew at the intersections of what used to be streets." They annihilated Damascus and Baghdad, then two of the most civilized places on the planet.

The Mongols were serious dudes. Fortunately their deadly accurate compound bows turned to crap in humidity, thus saving muggy Western Europe. (They also didn't like deep rivers, woods or mountains, which hindered their ability to maneuver.)

I know way, way, way too much historical trivia.

UPDATE: This movie has been MADE. It was nominated for a foreign language OSCAR. The tragedy is that it has been so poorly marketed, NO ONE KNOWS IT EXISTS!

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13 Comments:

Darn you and your historical trivia! Makes me want to do some more research into the topic, and I don't have time for it.

Hopefully that movie comes out soon, so I can watch that instead. ;b

By Blogger The_Lex, at 11:43 AM  

They were excellent horsemen as well and could shoot, reload and shoot again at a gallop. They often rode for days at a time, never stopping to relieve themselves. They simply urinated in the saddle and kept going. Unfortunately the saddle was where they also hung the raw meat they fed themselves as they rode.

You start to understand the whole fatalist view of the Russias when you understand they have a history of various hordes (not just Mongols) of barbarians coming across the steppes and burning villages to the ground. A lot.

By Blogger Cunningham, at 1:31 PM  

Seriously, you should WRITE this screenplay. I'd drop $10 to see it.

By Blogger Angela, at 3:18 PM  

What's funny is that their last set of big battles destroyed the Teutonic knights, which was the last major armed force keeping them out of Europe. They could have gone the rest of the way to Portugal without much more resistance, but the other factors kicked in and they left.

My favorite story was of Genghis sending his son/cousin/some family relation to ask for the town to surrender. The town killed the messenger. This ticked Genghis off so much he had them raze the town such that nothing was left. For some reason the next few towns didn't put up any fight.

By Blogger Michael, at 4:20 PM  

Not to mention the French and German hordes attacking Russia from the West.

Poor Russia. They just need a couple of hundred years unmolested by hordes.

By Blogger Jutratest, at 4:25 PM  

Re: razing villages to the ground -

There was an old tale of a Russian Queen (Queen meaning something more along the lines of Village mother and mayor back then when empires were much smaller)who noticed that a neighboring villages' thatched Yurts (round huts of mud with thatch roofs) were home to a great many birds of the area.

She ordered her men to capture as many of the birds as possible and tied long ribbons to their feet...

Then outside the village she lit the long ribbons on fire and let the birds fly. The birds flew home and landed in all the thatched roofs, burning the entire village down to the ground without a single bow nor sword being raised.

And that's one of the happier tales from that time...

By Blogger Cunningham, at 5:23 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Trevor Finn, at 6:14 PM  

Angela, I think someone's already written it. And it went to the Oscars.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 6:41 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Trevor Finn, at 8:07 PM  

Not sure if this is the one you're talking about, but presumably people will know it exists as we get closer to its release in a few months:

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117981997.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2564

By Blogger Fun Joel, at 2:59 PM  

Have you read any of the Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden?

They are a fictionalised account of the life of Ghengis Khan and are, frankly, brilliant.

As you read them, the cinematic possibilities open up before you.

Give them a go.

By Blogger robgrant, at 9:21 AM  

I've actually seen theatrical ads for the film (at a Landmark theater in Seattle), but I haven't seen it actually turn up on a release schedule.

By Blogger Steve, at 9:16 PM  

Mongol
and
By the Will of Chingis Khan
Popular for movies apparently.

I have known about these for awhile. Mongol is opening June 6th. I hope to get a copy on DVD to put up with my copy of John Wayne playing Genghis Khan. By the way, Temujin only destroyed the eastern 'Muslim Empire'(far east), it was his successors that went on to the middle east, but with much the same results, he didn't have a written language, did not respect scholars, and didn't think about killing artisans. The Mongols only destroyed those places that chose not to submit and offer tribute. Unfortunately, most of the cities, with their places of learning, suffered for having leaders who would not give up any power or wealth to save their people.

As to the Mongols in Europe, what turned them back was sheer coincidence. The humidity of Europe affecting their bow isn't really more of a problem than the humidity in other places they attacked. Ogedei died, and the horde had to return to vote on a new leader. The force that destroyed the Tutons and armies in the baltic (Battle of Legnica) were a diversionary force led by Subutai. The main force was further south and destroyed the armies of Hungary(Battle of Mohi).

Remember, Europe was fighting based on Chivalric code, while the Mongols were using tactics akin to modern combat. They also had different styles of fighting, they had archers, as well as light & heavy calvary. They also used foreign auxillaries in places. They and their horses can ride with minimal rest, their horses forage, so they don't need to bring fodder with them, they lived on dried cheese and meat on campaign (besides that which they could hunt on the go or gathered by right of conquest).

They didn't finish off the 'Muslim Empire' because the mongols couldn't locate enough food and water to sustain their forces in the deserts; Napoleon faced a similar problem in Russia several centuries later.

Just a point, Temujin was a leader much like hitler, ruthless but with a huge charisma amongst his people. Now Subutai is the one who really was the reason that Temujin succeeded militarily. In fact, after his death, very little (comparitively), was added to the empire.

This post is only a tiny bit of what I could say, so rather than blathering further; I'll end this. Yes, I will pay the wallet-rape fee at the theater to see these if they show here.

By Blogger Hugo Fuchs, at 3:40 PM  

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