Genghis Khan (1965 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Genghis Khan
Theatrical poster by Frank McCarthy.
Directed byHenry Levin
Screenplay byBeverley Cross
Clarke Reynolds
Story byBerkely Mather
Produced byIrving Allen
StarringOmar Sharif
James Mason
Stephen Boyd
Eli Wallach
Françoise Dorléac
Telly Savalas
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byGeoffrey Foot
Music byDušan Radić
Irving Allen Productions
Central Cinema Company Film (CCC)
Avala Film
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • April 15, 1965 (1965-04-15) (Germany)
  • June 23, 1965 (1965-06-23) (United States)
  • August 30, 1965 (1965-08-30) (United Kingdom)
Running time
120 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
West Germany
United States
Budget$4.5 million[1]
Box office$2.25 million
(US & Canada rentals)
2.6 million tickets
(France & West Germany)

Genghis Khan is a 1965 biographical adventure film directed by Henry Levin and starring Omar Sharif, depicting a fictionalized account of the life and conquests of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. Distributed in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1965 by Columbia Pictures, the film also features James Mason, Stephen Boyd, Eli Wallach, Françoise Dorléac and Telly Savalas.

A 70 mm version was released by CCC Film in West Germany. It was filmed in Yugoslavia with Technicolor and Panavision.


The young Temujin sees his father tortured and killed by a rival tribe led by Jamuga. Held prisoner, he is yoked into a large wooden wheel around his neck and tormented by the tribal children. He meets the young Bortai after an act of kindness to her, but is punished by Jamuga. Temujin then escapes and hides in the hills, followed by holy man Geen and mute warrior Sengal, who pledge their allegiance to the man vowing to unite all the Mongol tribes. Temujin liberates Salkits prisoners from group of Merkits, who they then slaughter and rob. The newly freed men join Temujin and unite with Temujin's Yesugai tribe.

Raids along caravan routes gradually increase the size of his army, and then Temujin decides to capture and take as his wife the young Bortai. He does so, but then she is recaptured by Jamuga (having found the camp by following Bortai's brothers Subotai, Jebai and Kassar defecting from Jamuga's tribe), who rapes her before Temujin can steal her back. Temujin raises the resulting child as his own, naming him Jochi. Temujin's army heads east in order to escape Jamuga.

A stranded Chinese ambassador is helped out by Temujin, who accompanies the diplomat into Song China, where he meets the Emperor of China. Despite being well fed, given elegant clothing and getting to experience luxuries such as bathing, wine and the arts, Temujin, Geen and Bortai's brothers all agree that it is a prison. After the Mongols successfully defeat Manchurians led by Jamuga holding the city of Hopeh, Jamuga is taken prisoner; the Temujin is proclaimed "Genghis Khan, the Prince of Conquerors" by the Emperor. Temujin's Mongol army stays in Peking for a long period, training, learning, and growing complacent. Although Jamuga was captured, he refuses to let them join Temujin's united Mongol tribes.

Temujin expresses to the Emperor about his desire to take the Mongol tribes back to their homelands, but the Emperor refuses, revealing only to his ambassador Kam Ling that he is worried that the Mongols will return to China as conquerors and so must keep them inside China. The Emperor wants to assassinate Genghis Khan using Jamuga, because Jamuga is a Mongol and therefore would leave the Chinese people blameless. The Ambassador, explains secretly to Temujin and his group that the emperor should fear the Mongols staying in China. He then suggests the emperor is a subtle man and there is another solution, in that his people stay and Temujin goes on a very long journey alone, implying the emperor wishes to assassinate Temujin. When Temujin inquires who were to stab him in the back, the Ambassador reveals that only a Merkit would be the assassin, which Temujin deduces is Jamuga. He orders Subodai and one of his brothers to bring him to his residence, but when they release Jamuga, he knocks them down and escapes. Finally, feeling trapped, the Mongols break out of their "captivity" by tricking the Emperor to personally light the final fireworks display at the end of a festival. The resulting explosion blows up a gate in the city wall, killing the Emperor of China in the process. The Mongols break out, taking the Emperor's daughter and his Ambassador with them and begin their conquest of Asia.

Temujin instructs Bortei's brothers Jebi, Subotai and Kassar to conquer China, Russia and India respectively. After laying waste to everything from Manchuria to Moscow, the Mongol army prepares to face the Shah of Khwarezm. The escaped Jamuga flees to Khwarezm, where he convinces the Shah to ally his forces with Jamuga's Merkits. The Mongol Army faces the Shah's Army and the Merkits on a battlefield. Temujin sends the ambassador Kam Ling as an envoy to ask Jamuga one last time to ally with him, Jamuga responds by killing Kam Ling and dragging his body back to the Mongols, implying that they will never ally themselves with Genghis Khan. The Mongols, with the help of cannons from China, engage in battle with the Shah's army. The Shah orders a retreat and Jamuga responds by killing him. Jamuga orders the Merkits to stay and fight. They are easily defeated, but Jamuga challenges Temujin to a Mongol duel. Temujin and Jamuga fight one last battle and kills him, although he is gravely wounded. Temujin addresses the Merkits, who all bow down and join the Mongol peoples. Temujin announces that he has accomplished his dream of uniting the Mongol peoples. Temujin succumbs to his wounds soon after following a loving good-bye to Bortai and her two remaining brothers.

A voiceover speaks of Genghis Khan's reputation and successors in expanding his empire - his grandson Babur founded the Mughal Dynasty of India and Kublai Khan became an Emperor of China.



The film was shot over 125 days.[1]

Allen and Euan Lloyd (who worked in publicity) wanted to make a follow-up called Clive of India based on a script by Terence Young but it was never made.[1]

Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, the film earned $2.25 million in distributor rentals.[2]

In Europe, the film sold 1.724 million tickets in West Germany[3] and 879,532 tickets in France,[4] for a combined 2,603,532 tickets sold in West Germany and France.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Scheuer, P. K. (1965, Jan 05). "Pat O'Brien takes new lease on life" Los Angeles Times
  2. ^ Anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 36
  3. ^ "Die erfolgreichsten Filme in Deutschland 1965" [The Most Successful Films in Germany in 1965]. Inside Kino (in German). 1965. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Gengis Khan (1965)". JP's Box-Office (in French). Retrieved 11 November 2021.

External links[edit]