War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman

The Fall of Otrar

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The Fall of Otrar
Gibel Otrara | Ardak Amirkulov, 1991
USSR/Kazakhstan | Format: 35mm | 176 minutes

Guerman produced and co-wrote (with wife and regular collaborator Svetlana Karmalita) Ardak Amirkulov’s staggering historical epic about the intrigue and turmoil preceding Genghis Khan’s systematic destruction of the lost East Asian civilization of Otrar. The movie that spurred the extraordinary wave of great Kazakh films in the 90s, The Fall of Otrar is at once hallucinatory, visually resplendent and ferociously energetic, packed with eye-catching (and gouging) detail and traversing an endless variety of parched, epic landscapes and ornate palaces. But this is also one of the most astute historical films ever made, its high quotient of torture and gore (Italian horror genius Mario Bava would have been envious) 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 truly a one-of-a-kind experience. NOT ON DVD

Series: War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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