THE TWO HORSES OF GENGHIS KHAN
2009, Byambasuren Davaa, Documentary
LENGTH: 91 min
FORMATS: 35mm, Blu-Ray & DVD
LANGUAGE: Mongolian w/English subtitles
DIRECTOR: Byambasuren Davaa
CAST: Urna Chahar-Tugchi (as Herself), Hicheengui Sambuu (as Himself, Violin Maker), Chimed Dolgor (as Herself, Old Singer)
CREW: ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: Jiska Rickels & Erdenee Orosoo; PRODUCER: Beatrix Wesle; SCREENWRITTER: Byambasuren Davaa; CINEMATAGRAPHER: Martijn Van Broekhuizen; EDITOR: Jana Musik; SOUND & DESIGN: Ansgar Frerich; MUSIC: Ganpurev Dagvan
A selection of the prestigious American Film Institute Film Festival in 2009, The Two Horses of Genghis Khan is a sweeping cinematographic spectacle from renowned Asian director Byambasuren Davaa whose earlier Story of The Weeping Camel grossed well into seven digit territory. Two Horses presents a stiff look at the crushing after-effects on Mongolian heritage in the years following the Chinese cultural revolution, in which priceless artifacts of music and art were destroyed, including the family heirloom of this story’s protagonist – a nineteenth century horsehead violin engraved with the words of an old and largely forgotten Mongolian folk song.
Unlike almost any other song, the verses of the song after which the film is titled embody the history and paradigm change of the Mongolian people. For singer Urna Chahar Tugchi, the song becomes the touchstone of her cultural identity after making a promise to her late grandmother to bring the family’s old horse head violin back to the homeland. Her grandmother was forced to destroy the beloved violin in the tumult of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and now only the head and neck remain intact, along with a few of the verses of the folk song that were engraved on the neck. With the dark days of the revolution now past, it is time to fulfil the promise.
Arriving in Ulan Bator, Urna brings the remaining parts of the violin to Hicheengui, a renowned maker of horse head violins, who will build a new body for the old instrument and attempt to restore it physically. However, the most difficult task still remains – locating the song’s missing verses. Urna begins her arduous journey to outer Mongolia to search for the missing verses of The Two Horses of Genghis Khan.
“My films, THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG and THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL, have brought the life of the Mongolian nomads closer to an international audience. I am often asked about the fascinating music of my homeland. In my new film, THE TWO HORSES OF GENGHIS KHAN, my protagonist, the singer URNA, leads the viewer on a journey of musical initiation through Outer Mongolia. She has come to have her grandmother’s old horse head violin, the morin khuur, embodies like no other instrument the Mongol’s national identity. Through the rapid pace of development today, which is causing the world to mutate into a large village, cultural identity and diversity have receded. In the same way Urna searches for the song believed lost, she is also searching vicariously for her people’s lost customs and traditions. By collecting the old songs, they will be saved from being forgotten forever. Symbolically, the broken violin stands also for the broken, divided Mongolian land, the separated brothers of Inner and Outer Mongolia, which today are slowly drawing near to each other again.” – Byambasuren Davaa – DIRECTOR
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