The Fall of Otrar

Gibel Otrara

dir. Ardak Amirkulov

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Alexei Guerman produced and co-wrote this staggering, bloody and brutal historical epic about a thirteenth-century Mongol scout who attempts to alert his leader to the encroaching threat of Genghis Khan.
Alexei Guerman produced and co-wrote this staggering historical epic, full of barbaric visual pageantry that echoes Paradjanov and Kurosawa. Championed by Martin Scorsese, who signed on to "present" its North American release, The Fall of Otrar recounts the tale of a thirteenth-century Mongol scout who attempts to alert his leader to the threat of Genghis Khan, who is destroying the civilization of Otrar in his bloody conquest of Asia. While its battle sequences have earned comparison to both Sergio Leone and Mario Bava — and the invocation of the latter might serve as a warning to the squeamish! — Otrar also evokes the sweeping medievalist poetry of Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev in its haunting, sepia-toned landscapes of stony plains and ornate palaces. "Strange and fascinating" (Dave Kehr, The New York Times); "One of the great underrated masterpieces of the nineties" (Olaf Möller, Film Comment).