Seeing the results, it’s difficult to make a good movie about an ancient historical event. The movies about Romans, an important genre, has usually been a failure (exception of Gladiator, maybe the best of them). Same has happened with movies about the Classic Greek period (even Alexander the Great is boring) or Middle Ages (Excalibur or Robin Hood are not historical events but legends).
The only failure of Mankiewicz was Cleopatra and Kubrick was really unsatisfied with Spartacus.
However, movies about legendary moments, which mix reality and fiction and the most suggestive elements of the past times (they are usually based on a novel) are a success: a Yankee in king Arthur’s Court, Lady Hawk, Lord of the Rings…
Recently, I’ve seen a movie about Genghis Khan, that great oriental emperor from the 12th century, who conquered the whole Asia, including China: ‘Mongol’ directed by Sergei Bodrov and in my opinion, it was terrible dull.
In fact, Genghis Khan was the founder of the biggest empire of the History and he started his conquests with some divided wild tribes. This is part of his myth and, of course, his massacres, especially in Khawarezmia, and the fact of having been the first to cross the Great Wall of China defeating the Jin dinasty. But Genghis Khan was born with a blood clot in his hand and this is the best of the best omens.
Yes, fantastic biography. But how can anybody film so many bloody wars with so many unknown leaders? Not worth a plot like this (sorry, Sergei Bodrov).
Nevertheless, the idea of that invincible Genghis Khan is really attractive. Above all, if we marry him with a kind of Helena of Troy and face them with corrupt kings and knights Templar-like to get their future empire.
This is exactly Game of Thrones, the current successful TV series created for HBO by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. It’s precisely based on a series of fantasy novels, by George R.R. Martin: A song of Ice and Fire, the first of which is titled A Game of Thrones. The novels are a great success too.
Here, the khan is called Khal Drogo (the giant Jason Momoa) and Helena of Troy is called “Dany” Targaryen (the beautiful Emilia Clarke). They live across the Narrow Sea and their son is the heir to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where groups of knights have violent dynastic struggles to get the control of the Iron Throne.
Genghis Kahn must cross the Great Wall of China, Khal Drogo the Narrow sea, a sea never crossed by his invincible ancestors. How can his wild tribe accomplished this feat? They are not sailors and they have no ships, but Helena of Troy (sorry, Dany Targaryen) is descendant of dragons and she has strange powers. Did you know that a dragon was the emblem of Genghis Kahn?
As the mongols, Khal Drogo’s tribe is always on a horse (even they make love on the horse) and as in China, a dreadful wall exists in The Seven Kingdoms, controlled by the Knights of the Night.
Betrayals, heroic struggles, chastity and fornication at the same time. Good actors (Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Heady…), fast-paced… With these elements nothing can fail but, of course, when the fantasy is support but some real elements…, because Genghis Kahn existed and he created a writing system to tell his achievements to the future. Maybe he wasn’t so wild.