Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth & Sea

Epic sweep and intimate details flow together as Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea paints the story of Temujin (Takashi Sorimachi), the man who became Genghis Khan. Though the movie starts before Temujin was born, follows his rise from outcast adolescent to charismatic chief, and ends when the newly anointed Khan marches on the Great Wall of China with the unified Mongol tribes in lockstep behind him, the story doesn't lurch and stumble with every leap in time. Surprisingly, given that empire-building is usually depicted as a boys-only activity, the female characters are as well-drawn as the male; Temujin's mother and first wife are central to this warrior's life and their trials illustrate the volatile conflicts between the tribes. As with any vast epic, To the Ends of the Earth and Sea has its moments of cheese--there's a traumatic death towards the end that is pure melodrama (and historically questionable) and the closing love song is Celine-Dion-worthy--but they're exceptions. Most of To the Ends of the Earth and Sea evokes a raw and brutal world and of the politics and rituals that develop to give life meaning. And of course there are spectacular battle scenes, full of rugged cavalry charging the field and warriors tumbling from their horses, felled by arrows or swords. All in all, a meaty and satisfying blockbuster.

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