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The Fall Of Otrar

Ardak Amirkulov, Kazakhstan, 1990; 165m
The Fall Of Otrar

Four arduous years in the making, Ardak Amirkulov's 1990 historical epic about the intrigue and turmoil preceding Genghis Khan's systematic destruction of the lost East Asian civilization of Otrar is unlike anything you've ever seen. The movie that spurred the extraordinary wave of great Kazakh films in the 90s, Amirkulov's film is at once hallucinatory, visually resplendent and ferociously energetic, packed with eye-catching (and gouging) detail and B-movie fervor, and traversing an endless variety of parched, epic landscapes and ornate palaces. But THE FALL OF OTRAR is also one of the most astute historical films ever made, and its high quotient of torture and gore (Italian horror genius Mario Bava would have been envious) is always grounded in the bedrock realities of realpolitik: when the Kharkhan of Otrar is finally brought before the Ruler of the World, he could be facing Stalin, or, for that matter, any number of modern CEOs. The movie that has everything, from state-of-the-art 13th-century warfare to perfumed sex, THE FALL OF OTRAR is a one-of-a-kind experience. Shot in a sepia-toned black-and-white, and written by none other than Amirkulov's old teacher Alexei Guerman and his wife, Svetlana Karmalita.

PRESS COVERAGE

The New York Times