I Mongoli (The Mongols) (1961)

 

 

Director:     Andre de Toth, .

Starring:     Gabriele Antonini (Temugin), Gianni Garko (Henry de Valois), Jack Palance (Ogotai), Pierre Cressoy (Igor), Antonella Lualdi (Amina), Gabriella Pallotta (Lutezia), Anita Ekberg (Huluna), Rolando Lupi (Genghis Khan), Franco Silva (Stephen of Crakow).

Country:        Italian film

Jack Palance plays the role of the son of Genghis Khan with Anita Ekberg as his mistress  

 

After the year 1,000 a horde of invisible warriors originating in far off Asian deserts is advancing toward the frontiers of Europe spreading death. They are lead by Ogotai, son of Genghis Khan.

The King of Poland calls together people from different kingdoms. A speaker stands forth to say that their hopes turn today to the King of Poland for how to deal with the Mongol threat. We must stand up to the Mongol hordes or all of Europe will be destroyed, says one man. There is in-fighting among the prospective allies. The Duke of Bohemia says a war will ruin them. The Duke of Bavaria accuses the Duke of Bohemia of cowardice. He says the man fears the devastation of his own lands. The Duke of Bohemia counters that if the Mongolian cavalry crosses the River Danube it will invade the cities of the Duke of Bavaria. True. But, says the Duke of Bavaria, he will fight them with every drop of his blood. The spokesman asks for calmness.

Another man stands up to say that no one can stop the Mongols. They have annihilated the great Chinese empire and have destroyed all the lands of Asia. Stephen of Crakow stands up to suggest something different: peace. He says he hates war without fearing it. Some accuse him of cowardice.

The door opens wide to allow the refugees from the devastation caused by the Mongols file into the palace chamber. Stephen says if they act, they can save the rest of the refugees. He tells the Polish King to have an ambassador go see the Mongols. Genghis Khan is a wise man.  The King of Poland likes the idea so he appoints Stephen the ambassador. He will go to the Mongols and present their offer of peace. If he does not return within a designated time, they will attack the Mongolian army.

Stephen and a group of soldiers head toward the Mongolian lands. He asks his companion, Henry of Valois, why he wanted to come along on the mission. The man responds that the nephew of the King of France has always to be courageous, so he had to come along. The unit comes across a long line of refugees. The people demand to know where are all their soldiers. Stephen explains the mission of his unit, but the people shout: "No, no peace!" As the unit proceeds, the people call them cowards.

The Mongols take another city and engage in various atrocities. Igor wants to do something about the atrocities. The beautiful Amina tells him to just stay here. And just watch these murderers? he asks. He calls Ogotai a coward for whipping a poor man who canít defend himself. Ogotai responds by lashing a whip around Igorís neck and then dragging him behind his horse.

Amina begs the voluptuous Huluna, who is with the troops, for mercy. Huluna just says that she hates women who cry and pushes Amina with her boot onto the ground.

The Mongols spot the European unit and come riding up. The unit raises the white flag, but continues to advance. Stephen tells the leader that in the name of the King of Poland he is going to speak with Genghis Khan.

Ogotai says that he and his men will take Crakow in one day. Then there will be nothing to stop them. The leader of the Mongolian unit that found Stephen and his unit comes in to tell Ogotai that they have the Polish ambassador. Ogotai virtually runs over to the man to tell him he doesnít want any ambassadors. He asks why didnít they kill the men? The answer is because the unit asked for the hospitality of Genghis Khan. Ogotai says thatís the only way they would have survived. He then tells Huluna to tell the ambassador that Ogotai is willing to negotiate.

Huluna entertains Stephen and his men. Scantily clad women perform a dance. Stephen says their hospitality is certainly worthy of a queen. Huluna asks Stephen to tell her the message from his king and she will tell Ogotai. Stephen only tells her that he must speak directly with Genghis Khan. Huluna responds that the great Khan is not in their camp. Stephen says he will wait.

Amina forces her way to the entrance to the chamber. Huluna tells her guards to let her in. She comes in to tell Stephen that he is nothing but a traitor. Their very own brothers die while their killers are Stephenís hosts. Amina goes to the window to show them the torture of Igor. Stephen asks what crime the poor man has committed? To fight us is crime enough, says Huluna. Stephen tells her that the Mongols always grant their guestsí their first requests, so he is asking for the release of the man in the name of the Polish ambassador. Huluna says the man is his. Stephen thanks her saying she is most generous.

Stephen and Amina go to Igor. Stephen starts cutting him loose. Ogotai throws his spear near Stephen. He will permit it, but he is not very happy about letting the man go free. He helps cut Igor loose. Then he leaves.

Ogotai speaks to his troops. He says today will be their greatest battle. The best of the booty will go to those arriving first. A messenger arrives to tell Ogotai that Genghis Khan orders him to stay here and wait for him before attacking. But Ogotai says they will wait for his father in Crakow. A couple of leaders say they canít disobey an order from the great Khan. Reluctantly, Ogotai issues the order for the men to go back to camp.

Back with Huluna, she asks Ogotai why his father should stop his spear now? Ogotai says he does not know the plans of his father. She says that his father will divide the empire between him and his brother Temugin but Temugin will lead the empire. The Khan has made his choice, she says. Ogotai only commands as long as they are at war. She says that if the Polish ambassadorís proposals are advantageous, then the war is over. They must kill him at once. Ogotai says that he canít Ė the chiefs have seen the ambassador. He cannot kill a guest of the emperor. Huluna doesnít know how to answer that objection, but she is obviously thinking of how to get around the obstacle.

Huluna pays a visit to Stephen. She tells him that Ogotai destroyed her family. At one time she was free and happy. She asks for wine, but she wants to be the one to serve Stephen. She pours a substance from her ring into Stephenís cup. Instead of drinking his wine, Stephen kisses the Queen. She kisses him. She tells him that Ogotai is going to kill him so he must leave now, tonight. But Stephen says he will take the risk for the sake of peace. He pours his wine onto the ground. She becomes angry and tells him he will never see Genghis Khan. She slaps him and then throws the rest of her wine in his face.

Ogotai goes to the river where Huluna is bathing. He asks her if she went to the foreigners last night? He pushes her down onto the ground and starts to lash her with his whip. She says she would have killed Stephen if he hadnít found her out. He tells her he doesnít need any help. She responds that this time he went too far with her.

Ogotai rides to speak with Stephen. He and Henry de Valois are hunting with falcons. Ogotai makes fun of them saying this is no way to hunt for a man. He goads them in various ways and then tells them not to go beyond the limits of the camp. Otherwise his archers will shoot them. He leaves.

A fellow soldier gives a whistle call for Stephen. He has the battle uniform for Stephen. The Mongolian archers follow them. Stephen wants to reach Genghis Khan somehow. He tries to race here and there to find an exit from the Mongolian troops. Stephen kills two of the men following him and takes off.  Stephen is hit with an arrow and falls into a small pond. Some refugees have to help him out of the pond because of the soft surface of the pondís bottom.

The men take him to the refugee camp. There he sees Igor and Amina. Igor gives Stephen a hard time because he thinks they should fight the Mongols to the death. Igorís father tells Stephen not to pay attention to his son. He is blinded by his own hatred. Amina takes care of his wound. He asks her if she still thinks he is a traitor? She just figures heís trying to be smart with her.

Igor comes in to the hut and shouts Aminaís name so she backs away from Stephen. He says that if the Mongols hadnít invaded he and Amina would already be married. Stephen asks that they send a message to his unit that he could not reach Genghis Khan. Amina volunteers for the mission.

Ogotai visits Huluna in her bed. He asks her why she is not in his tent. She tells him to go away and he says she is his woman. Huluna says sheís not his woman, but a slave that he can beat to death. She grabs a knife from under her pillow and shows him how easy it would be to kill him. She says she abandoned her country to live in his Mongol tent.   Ogotai says she makes these sacrifices because she wants to be the most powerful woman in the world. She says no. She wants to be the wife of the most powerful man in the world. But Ogotai wonít pay his dues to become the most powerful man. He wonít kill the Polish ambassador. Ogotai says that the Polish ambassador has run away. She wants him found immediately. Ogotai tells her not to worry. He will not escape.

Amina arrives in town. She finds one of the Polish soldiers killed. The Mongolians grab her. Ogotai asks her what she wants here. She says she wants to speak to the Polish ambassador because she loves him. Ogotai finds the seal of the Polish ambassador on her and soon she is being lashed so that she tell the manís location. Huluna comes to lash her some more. Amina falls unconscious. Huluna tells her men to lash her some more until she talks.

Stephen, Igor and another man come into town to find Amina. They climb up a great tower and enter through the window. They head down to where the prisoners are tortured. Stephen and Igor both fight  guards and kill them. Amina is very glad to see Stephen, but Igor intervenes again telling Stephen not to touch her. They cut the ropes of the other women in the chamber. Two archers arrive and start killing the women. Stephen and Igor kill the archers.  They run to open the front gate, but find a whole mass of Mongols headed their way. They quickly close the doors. The Mongols force the doors open. Stephen and Igor are trapped. Ogotai tells the two men that they will fight each other to the death. The one who wins will go free.

Igor goes to the attack. They fight with swords. While everyone watches the fight, two refugee women try to sneak out. One makes it, while the second one is shot in the back with an arrow.  Stephen wins the fight, but refuses to kill a fellow Pole. While his back is turned, Igor stabs Stephen. Igor says he is free and starts to leave. Ogotai takes Stephenís swords and throws it into Igorís back.

Stephen lives. The Mongols ride out leaving him on the floor. Igorís brother and some other refugees find Igorís body with Stephenís sword sticking out of his back. They figure that Stephen of Crakow killed him. The woman who received an arrow to the back, named Lutezia, is still alive, barely. She tells Igorís brother that it was Ogotai, not Stephen, who killed Igor. She dies.

Genghis Khan finally arrives in camp. Ogotai and Huluna go to greet him. His young brother Tamugin is with his father. Genghis wants to know where the ambassador is at once. Huluna tells him that they punished him, but he does not want to hear from her. Suddenly Stephen is brought out and tripped to the ground to kneel before the great Khan. Stephen gets up and explains who he is. He says that they betrayed the hospitality that they offered to him. Genghis Khan wants to know who betrayed his hospitality? He wonít accuse anyone. He has come for peace.

The refugee woman who did escape is brought to the camp of the Knights Templar. She tells the commander that Stephen is now the prisoner of the Mongols in Sistow. The commander tells his fellow officers that the peace attempt has failed. So, itís banners up and tents down.

Stephen goes to warn the refugees that if the Mongols attack, they will come through their encampment. Approaching the encampment, Stephen sees Amina. He goes to speak with her. She is very angry at Stephen for murdering Igor. She says if he doesnít go, she will kill him. The other villagers come and threaten to kill him for the murder of their chief Igor. Amina stops them and she is backed up by Igorís father. The father tells Stephen to leave right now. Stephen leaves. He never got the opportunity to tell them about the possibility that the Mongols might come right through their encampment.

Genghis wanders at night through the fields asking the spirits if it is peace or war. Ogotai and Huluna are in their tent. Ogotai says he wonít stop fighting. He asks the spirits to tell his father that their very life is war.

The next morning Genghis Khan says their horses will drink from the great river, but they will not cross it. The answer is peace. Stephen gets down on his knees to tell the great Khan that his wisdom is equal to his valor.  Stephen says he will return to his people to bring the news of peace. Genghis says all the people of Poland will be free. This is his gift to the King of Poland. Stephen tells Henry to ride to tell the Polish army not to attack. Peace is at hand.

Ogotai thinks his father was just being very deceptive and so he asks his father for his real plans. But his real plans are the peace plans. Ogotai is furious and he loudly objects to his father. He is very insulting in his language. His father becomes angry and relieves him of command of his army. He tell Ogotai to leave him. Ogotai walks right past Huluna without saying anything.

In town there is a big celebration. Amina is there and tells Igorís brother that the people will remember well what Stephen did to Igor. Stephen looks for her. The brother tells Amina that Igorís sacrifice helped their plans and they must forget about Stephen. Amina refuses to do that. She is so bitter that the brother tells her that she is being unfair. It was Igor who struck Stephen. He didnít want to tell her, but now he feels he must. And now the quick-tempered Amina feels humiliated for the things she said. She leaves.

Ogotai and some of his men plan to kill Henry the messenger to prevent peace. They find Henryís camp and attack. The Mongolian leader with them kills one of the attackers. Ogotai gets the advantage over the leader and kills him, but he saves Henry. Ogotai says his death will be a slow one. Henry insists that he be killed. So Ogotai grabs a burning log. It looks like he intends to burn some or all of  Henry.

Genghis Khan tells Tamugin to let his own reign be a peaceful one. Ogotai arrives at this moment. He says the Poles have deceived his emperor. He shows the body of the Mongol killed by himself and says the Poles killed him. He saved Henry (whose face is badly burned on the left side) so he could confess to his father. He forces Henry to read a false statement. Genghis gives command back to Ogotai. It will be war.

The members of the peace delegation and the refugees are tortured in large numbers. Amina sees Stephen brought in and tied to a column. She apologizes. He forgives her. And she tells him that she loves him. Stephen says then this is the happiest day he will ever know.

The Mongols take the women away. Amina tries to hold onto Stephen but they pull her off him. Stephen then sees Henry in a corner. He asks him why he doesnít speak. Henry finally explains about Ogotaiís treachery. He says it was his fault. But what if he makes up for it, he asks. He sticks his hands in the fire to burn off his ropes. He is badly burned but he unties his feet and then unties Stephen. He has to use his mouth to loosen the ropes. A guard kills Henry and Stephen kills the guard.

Stephen gets into the tent to tell Genghis that it was his son who betrayed him. Ogotaiís throws his sword at Stephen but he ducks. Them the murderous warrior admits what he did. Genghis gives a lance of of his to Stephen and tells him to leave. He then tells his son: "You have destroyed my honor and my glory. . . . You disgust me." He whips Ogotaiís face several times with a small whip. Genghis says he will die along with the woman who made him so full of hate and treachery. Huluna hears this last part and stabs Genghis in the back with her knife. He succumbs. Ogotai starts to strangle her. He throws her to the ground and tells her she will be buried alive.

He rushes out to tell his men to stop the Pole who killed Genghis Khan. Tamugin runs to the tent. Huluna tells him that the Pole killed him, but he sees that she is missing her knife. He rushes to the tent and finds her knife in his fatherís back. Stephen hides from the group trying to find him. Then he continues on his ride to the Polish army. He runs into a patrol and tells them what has happened. He rides to the grand master.

A funeral is held for Genghis Khan. Ogotai holds his sword over the great Khan. He says he is now the Emperor of the Mongols. Below him Amina is one of the refugees tied up to be burned. Ogotai says to himself that he wants to destroy the Poles entirely.

Stephen speaks with the commander. He tries to give the commander some military advice, but the man doesnít want it. Stephenís forces will be held in reserve. The Poles go to the attack. They bring their ladders and stairways with them. When they get to the gates of the town, the Mongols pour out and go to the attack  Itís a massacre of the Polish infantry. Huluna is involved in the fighting as well as Ogotai. Stephen had warned the Polish commander not to send in the infantry without the use of the Polish cavalry, but to no avail.

The Poles prepare the lancers to protect the Polish retreat. Stephen comes up and begs to be allowed the chance to use his cavalry to defeat the Mongol cavalry. Permission is granted. Stephen tells his men if they obey his orders the battle can still be won. He shouts: "Long live Poland!" They go to the attack.

They draw the Mongolian cavalry into the woods. Trees are felled in front of the Mongolian horses and set on fire. The Mongolians try to retreat but their way is blocked by other felled trees set on fire. The Polish cavalry makes a circle around a swamp. The Mongols start to cross the swamp and the horses start to get bogged down. Soon the men are in deep waters. Huluna finds herself stuck in the swamp. She calls to Tamugin to help her, but he just watches her cry for help as she slowly goes under.

Ogotai arrives to see the disaster that has befallen his cavalry. He races back to town. He shouts to his fatherís body that his empire has been totally destroyed. He tells the Poles tied up there that they shall die now.

He starts setting the wood on fire to kill the Polish refugees. He then goes up to his fatherís body and takes his own life. Stephen and his cavalry arrive. He frees Amina from the wooden poles to which she was tied. She cries. Stephen grabs her and tells her: "Itís all right."

 

The movie is o.k., but much of it is fanciful. The Mongols did attack Poland, however.  But Genghis Khan was long dead before this happened.  The movie quality isn't good either. And my copy had sections with big lines through the picture.   The acting was o.k.  Anita Ekberg did better than I though she would. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

Genghis Khan (Temujin) had four famous sons by Borte, his first and chief wife.  They were:  Jochi, whose son Batu founded the Golden Horde and ruled in Russia and Eastern Europe; Jagatai who gave his name to a state in Central Asia; ÷gŲdei who succeeded his father and ruled Mongolia and northern China; and Tolui.  Tolui was the father of Mangu Khan, ruler of the unified Mongol Empire from 1251 to 1259; Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan dynasty in China; and Hulagu, who founded the il-Khanid dynasty of Persia.

 

1186  --  birth of Ogedei, the third son of Genghis Khan, but his favorite child. Ogedei was physically a large man, but jovial, charismatic and looking forward to enjoying good times. He was also an alcoholic.

1229  --  Ogedei elected supreme khan after Genghis' death.  His reign was very stable. 

1234  --  completion of the destruction of the Jurchen Jin empire and conflict with the Southern Song. 

1235  --  beginning of a 45 year war of conquest.  China conquered; Korea vassalized; control over Persia, and the subduing of the Russian steppe. They conquered almost all of Russia (with Novgorod becoming a vassal), Hungary and Poland. 

The Mongols destroyed the Poles, including units of the Knights Templar and Teutonic Order, at the battle of Legnica.

Two days later, they destroyed the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohi.

The Mongols reestablished the Silk Road, the main trading route between East and West.

1241  -- harassed by civil strife and foreign invasions, like that of the Mongols, the small Polish principalities became enfeebled and depopulated.

1241  -- death of Ogedei Khan.  Western Europe was saved by the Khan's death and the Mongolian Empire began its decline. 

His son GŁyŁk succeeded him (after the five-year regency of his widow TŲregene Khatun).

Batu Khan, Khan of the Kipchak Khanate in Russia, never accepted GŁyŁk.

1248  -- GŁyŁk died of alcoholism and gout on the way to confront Batu Khan.

not until 1255  --  Batu felt secure enough to prepare an invasion of Europe.  Batu died in the same year.  His son took over, but also died.

1258  --  Batu's brother Berke, ascended to the Kipchak Khanate.  He was a Muslim and was mostly interested in stopping his cousin Hulagu from doing any more damage to the Holy Land.

 

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