Scene Stealer: Making 'Mongol's' weapons
"Mongol," the first film in a proposed trilogy about the life of Genghis Khan, is notable for its hundreds of horses and extras battling it out on the steppes of Kazakhstan. But to really bring the era to life, filmmaker Sergei Bodrov relied on art director Dashi Namdakov's heritage in the ancient Mongolian tradition of darkhans (blacksmiths), which helped him use lifetimes worth of experience to create the film's weaponry. Namdakov describes the swords Temudjin (the future Khan) uses in the film as a combination of "artistic fantasy and scientific publications." Though the design of the weapons were accurate to the 12th and 13th centuries, in reality those weapons were quite plain. Namdakov looked back even further -- to the 1st century -- for decorative ideas, which he combined with his own artistic style. Weapons for the lead actors were hammered and hand-processed in Namdakov's art studio in Moscow, where he used bronze and silver to decorate. Lest anyone think Namdakov has superhuman abilities, he admits the rest of the weapons used by the 1,500 extras were made in China, using modern techniques.
-- Patrick Kevin Day