“Echoes of the Empire: Beyond Genghis Kahn” weaves an interesting narrative into spectacular cinematography. On second thought it may be that the cinematography in this documentary directed by Robert H. Lieberman ascends the narrative. I don’t take this as a negative as who says the narrative must be more important than the cinematography?
The documentary recounts a basic history of Mongolia and the impact Genghis Kahn had on Mongolia and the world. It was in 1206 that Kahn crafted together Mongolia as a nation state. We think of him as a great warrior but culturally he passed edicts mandating religious freedom, the prohibition of kidnapping women and the protection of diplomats. As these edicts covered his empire they were the beginning of international law. He created an empire which was the biggest one ever created dwarfing that of Alexander the Great. He died in 1227. His empire lasted until 1368. By 1696 Mongolia became part of the Manchu Dynasty. Eventually it fell under the control of the Soviet Empire until communism faltered in the Soviet Union and it could no longer continue to finance Mongolia. Shortly thereafter a democracy was established and the Genghis Kahn legacy resurged to fill a political and cultural vacuum. In the communist days it was prohibited to refer to Kahn but his greatness was a legacy the Mongolians could cling to in uncertain times.
Despite the fact that only 30% of the population is nomadic the nomadic spirit survives in national culture. But modernization and a huge livestock failure caused the main city of Ulan Bator to swell with a million or so former nomads that flocked to the city. Pollution is horrific in the winter months as so many of the former nomads camping on the edge of the city in their gers burn low quality coal for heat.
The documentary is a fascinating incursion into Mongolian history, culture and politics.
You can watch the trailer here https://vimeo.com/365863230
To start the documentary will be showing in select theatres in Washington on June 3 and in Los Angeles on June 10th. Further theatrical and VOD releases will be known soon.
RKS Film Rating 84/100.