Tonight we watched Mongol (2007), a semi-historical film about the early life of Temujin, later to become known as Genghis Khan. At one level, this is a good old-fashioned war movie, with armies massing and battling each other. But it is also an epic and I think the film is worth viewing for three reasons. The first is the historical aspects. The Russian director, Sergei Bodrov, did a great deal of research into Temujin’s early life and the film faithfully portrays him as being, in turn, an orphan, a slave and a mercenary whose father was poisoned by a rival tribe and whose position as tribal chief was denied him because he was too young. This is Khan the survivor, and not the murderous colonist and monstrous autocrat he was later to become. The second is the extraordinary beauty of the actors, particularly Tadanobu Asano (the – Japanese! – actor who plays Temujin) and Chuluuny Khulan (the Mongolian actress who plays Temujin’s wife, Borte). The third is the extraordinary beauty of the landscapes (the film was shot in China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan). The sheer vastness of the steppes is frequently contrasted with the puny human beings who trek across them on their ponies. Indeed, there are strong echoes of David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia) throughout the film. It certainly stood up well against the previous night’s viewing and, indeed, deserved to be more widely distributed.