I have written here once that one of my dreams, which is still a bit far too lofty to this day– is to backpack the Silk Road with the hubby and produce a coffee table book thereafter. Our lofty dream includes going to hajj via backpacking the silk road and then back. That shall remain a dream at present. However, today I had a piece of the Silk Road in the form of a historical epic, Mongol, written by Arif Aliyev and directed by Sergei Bordov.
Mention Mongolia now and the images of Malaysian police, Ra/zak Bagi/n/da, sexy-model-turned-translator-blown-up-into-million pieces will definitely be amongst the first things in mind. The film is not about her or that. But a stunning historical docu-drama about the person who was Genghis Khan, before he got that title. Of the boy called Temudgin that he once was, his personality and the person that he was as an adult which made him the leader who managed to conquer half the world in his era.
In my A level history readings, Genghis Khan was always painted as the evil blood thirsty brute who spared no one who came in his way of conquest. But then again, in many writings we find today and in the past, likewise, Prophet Muhamad was also put in the same light. There are always two sides of a coin, and for this film, it showed the flip side. Written based on leading scholarly accounts, Mongol displayed the other side of Genghis, not as the manic brute, but as the multidimensional visionary, fearless and inspirational leader.
I shall not write too much details in here to avoid being the spoiler. The official website for it is here and one can read in greater detail on what the film is all about. However, there were some things that made me somehow able to make some mental connections on why Temudgin ( Genghis’ real name ) was such an appealing leader to the Mongols who pledged their lives to him.
The historical accounts depicted here was that he was a spiritual person, praying to one Lord — theLord of The Big Blue Sky and only that Lord. He did all he could do to survive but at the end of the day, he sought help from no one but the Lord of the Big Blue Sky. His sense of ‘tawakkal‘ was amazingly familiar. When his army was a bit shaken at the sight of the enemy, which had triple the number of soldiers that they had–he simply told them, ‘they have a big army, bigger than ours but we have the Lord of the Big Blue Sky and I have strategies, so don’t fear’. That rang a bell somewhere ain’t it?
He never breaks his promises, as shown throughout, he made sure his army never ever hurt the women and children in the war, he took only 1/10 of the war loots and told his soldiers to give some to the families of the dead enemies first, before distributing the rest equally amongst themselves. His vision was to unite all the warring tribes of Mongolians so that they would live peacefully as one people instead of endlessly and senselessly fighting amongst themselves. That too rang a bell somewhere. And if we know the personality of the person from where all these familiar bells are ringing, Temudgin too, was an extremely loving husband and father who never made any big decisions without first consulting his closest confidante, his wife. Catch the drift yet?
Temudgi aside, Mongolia is beautiful. Harsh but stunnigly beautiful, further enticing the backpacking trip I don’t know when will it ever be materialised. And I like the old warfare. The kind of war with real warriors who fight at battle fields. Soldier to soldier, warrior to warrior, sword to sword. No civilians, women or children involved. Not the war of cowardice where a group of uniformed men sit in air-conditioned room, press a button and wipe out whole cities. Or send tankers to destroy families and houses in a crash, boom bang manner. There’s no honour in that kind of war, I feel. Just plain cowardice and brute, which many great leaders of the past never had. Genghis included.