Sunday, 19 July 2009

Possibly the Worst Film of all time!!!!!

I apologise in advance for the next  sentence. I have never seen the Hollywood 'epic' Genghis Khan and as it was on Channel 5 (one of our terrestrial channels for the foreign readers), I thought here's my chance.
Boy, what a mistake that was! I really, really wish I hadn't bothered.
Now I didn't know any of this and I don't think any of the historians who have meticulously researched the man over the centuries knew the following facts either. According to the film:
1. Jamuka (Stephen Boyd in sneering-face mode) killed Temujin's (Omar Sharif) father Yesugai.
2. Jamuka was considerably older than Temujin and they started out as sworn enemies not friends.
3. Subedai (a very young Kenneth Cope), Jelmei (or Jebei, the names were said far too quickly),  and Khasar were all the brothers of Borte (some French sounding blond??? actress I'd never heard of).
4. It was the Chinese Emperor (played admirably by Robert Morley), who named Temujin Genghis Khan, not the Mongols.
5. The Khwarazmian-shah (a suitably attired Eli Wallach) along with Jamuka, attacked GK. In the battle, GK used cannon to great effect causing the Khwarazmian-shah to panic and order a retreat whereupon Jamuka stabs and kills him.
6. Subedai is killed at the battle. At least I'm pretty sure it was Subedai because the fleeting picture looked like Kenneth Cope wearing a helmet and with a daft moustache glued on.
6. Soon afterwards, Jamuka is captured and he and GK have a 'Mongol Duel?' The fight can only end one way and Jamuka is finally killed but mortally wounds GK in the process. The final scene is that of GK saying goodbye to his missus who is holding a babe in her arms -must be Ogadai because I saw another, older rug rat and a child, presumably Jochi and Jagatai- one of whom was being held aloft by a warrior. He decrees with his dying breath that, until his children reach their majority, the land should be ruled by Borte and her two remaining brothers.
And these were just the big ones that I noticed and remembered. Give me a pen, a pad and a pause button and I have no doubt that I could find many, many more.
The burning question is, how is it that so so may illustrious luminaries have got it so utterly and completely wrong? The answer is of course they didn't.
Now the rant.
The cinema and its smaller brother television entertain us in a variety of ways and at a number of different levels. History is fact. It is chronicled, sometimes by people who were there, and sometimes by people who were contemporaries of people who were there and then later by historians. My point is this, how it is so easy for the writers of a piece of cinema, and by association, television, to ride roughshod over history as if it were mere guidelines rather than -literally in some cases- set in stone.
Poetic licence, some cry! Entertainment value, shout others! Utter B*&&*+ks I shout back! Get it as right as you can. 
Another and more dangerous adjunct to this random slashing through the pages of history is that some people actually believe and are influenced by what they are seeing. Get it wrong and a whole generation grow up being convinced that it either didn't happen or at the very least, didn't happen in that way.
As an aside to this I have spoken to Polish people who would swear that the Mongols either never invaded their country or, if you can get them to admit the truth, they will say that we beat them and they went away. Huh! I have also spoken to people in the know who have said that there are over 400 historical inaccuracies in the film Cromwell...this is after the publicity said that it had been researched 'for over ten years!
This is how history gets perverted by the minor deity Entertainment. The Romans had a saying, Bread and Circuses. In other words, if you keep the masses entertained, they will not think or ask questions. That is what Entertainment has become, because the great deity, Hollywood, has decreed 'This is our version of how it is/was. Do not question it.'
Utter Rubbish! Question everything you see that is historical. If you like what you see then go down to your nearest booksellars/library and find out the truth. Then make up your mind. Don't just rely on cinema or television.
In the case of GK, from what I have read -which incidentally is quite a fair amount- the mans life was interesting enough and definitely cinema-worthy on any number of levels without having to embellish it by glaring errors.
God, I'm knackered after all that ranting, takes it out of you, you know.
Keep your paint wet.

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