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Marco Polo: Five Reasons To Care | Марко Поло: 5 сонирхолтой баримт

Netflix’s 10-part TV drama “Marco Polo” launches today on 12 December.

Watch this space for some Altan Urag music throughout the 10 series. Unurmaa Janchiv, Altan Urag manager for Europe, negotiated and signed the deal on behalf of the band. This is their second Hollywood licensing deal. As you all know, Altan Urag music was previously licensed to be used on “Mongol”, directed by Sergei Bodrov. Mongolian actors starred in the “Marco Polo” series. Other Mongolian throat singers and an ethnic band are also featured in the series.

Телевизийн 10 ангит драм “Марко Поло” Netflix дээр 12 сарын 12-ний өдрөөс гарч эхлэх гэж байна.

“Алтан ураг” хамтлагийн хөгжмийг тус киноны арван ангийн туршид ашиглана. Тус xамтлагын Европ дахь менежер Ж. Өнөрмаа хамтлагыг төлөөлөн тэдний хөгжмийг “Марко Поло” кинонд ашиглуулах гэрээг Холливудын Weinstein Сompany-тай хийсэн юм. Энэ нь “Алтан ураг” хамтлагын Холливудтай хийсэн 2 дахь лицензийн гэрээ болж байна. Өмнө нь тэдний хөгжмийг Сергей Бодровын найруулсан “Монгол” кинонд гэрээгээр ашигласaныг та бүхэн мэднэ. “Марко Поло” кинонд монгол жүжигчид тоглохоос гадна монголын хөөмийчид, язгуур урлагын хамтлаг оролцоно.

AltanUrag MarcoPolo

To mark the launch of the Netflix 10-part TV series on Marco Polo, John Man’s book Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World has just been published in the US. Its title in the UK is Xanadu: Marco Polo’s Discovery of the East. John’s other books include Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan,and the Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan. Here he writes about why we are fascinated by Marco.

Netflix-н 10 ангит телевизийн драм “Марко Поло” гарч эхэлж байгаатай холбогдуулан Жон Мэний бичсэн “Марко Поло: Дэлхийг өөрчилсөн аялал” (Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World) ном АНУ-д саяхан хэвлэгдсэн юм. Уг номыг Их Британид Шанд: Марко Поло Дорныг нээсэн нь (Xanadu: Marco Polo’s Discovery of the East) нэрээр хэвлэгдсэн. Жон “Чингис хаан” (“Genghis Khan”), Хубилай хаан (“Kublai Khan”), болон “Чингис хааны удирдах ухааны нууцаас” (“Тhe Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan”) зэрэг номуудыг бичсэн. Марко яагаад бидний сэтгэлийг татдаг тухай тэрбээр ийнхүү бичиж байна.

Marco Polo poster

Marco Polo: Five Reasons To Care |  Марко Поло: 5 сонирхолтой баримт

Marco was, of course, the world’s most famous traveller. He was the author of the first real travel book – written in about 1300 – in which he describes his journey from Venice across Asia and his 17 years in the service of China’s emperor, Kublai Khan.

But fame is not a reason to care. History is full of famous people we really couldn’t care less about. Marco is different. Here’s why:

  1. Marco’s great adventure is a real-life fairy-tale, an archetypal story. An ordinary teenager is plucked from his home and taken across the world by his father to an unknown kingdom. He is presented to the richest and most powerful man in the world – Kublai being nominal head of the Mongol Empire, which included all China and stretched from the Pacific to southern Russia. Wonderful to relate, the emperor employs him. He responds with near-adoration. He acquires wealth and status. Finally, on his return, he writes his book, winning universal fame. We care about Marco, as we care about Cinderella, because his story touches our collective unconscious.
  1. On top of which, it’s actually true. Yes, he exaggerated, pretended he had seen what he hadn’t, even told a few notorious lies; and yes, there’s supposed to be a ‘debate’ or ‘controversy’ about whether he went to China or not. Well, he did. The ‘evidence’ that he didn’t is spurious. Why, for instance, did he not mention the Great Wall? Because it was a wreck, not worth a second glance. It had been built to keep the Mongols out, but when Marco arrived in 1275 the Mongols had been ruling on both sides of the now-neglected Wall for over 20 years.

What of his inaccuracies, his outright lies? There are excuses. His book of Travels was written in tough circumstances, when he was under house arrest as a prisoner of war four years after he got home. He wrote it under pressure from his ghost, a fellow prisoner who was a hack writer of romances. They didn’t have much time, and Rusticello, the ghost, wanted drama, true or false: Oh, come on, Signor Polo, no one will ever know.

The strongest evidence of his authenticity is his mention of Mongolian words and practices which he could not have known except through personal experience. No outsider could have named the Ongirat clan who supplied top Mongolians with marriage partners, or the royal bodyguard (keshig), or the Mongolian for a musk-deer (khüder).

  1. He’s a great character. Curious, open to new experiences. No intellectual. Tough, never complaining about the rigors of travel or sickness. Practical in the way he specifies times, distances and local products. Charming, with an ability to make friends everywhere. A lover of women, but not licentious. A lover of hunting, and a good rider, which held him in good stead for his travels in China. And in the end, an appealing mixture of openness and restraint. He knew he had a wonderful story to tell, because back in Venice people asked him to tell it all the time. He did, often, with good grace – yet he recorded it only when encouraged by his ghost.
  1. He revealed China to the west. There had been indirect trade links with China for centuries, but if any European had made the trip no one left a record. Here, for the first time, was a portrait not simply of a totally different civilization, but of a vastly wealthy one. He described Kublai’s first capital and later his summer resort of Shang Du (‘Upper Capital’), which English speakers know as Xanadu. (Mongolians called it Dzu Naiman Sum). He even mentioned Japan, the first European to do so. It was the wealth that he recorded in particular detail. He described everything in terms of millions – people, cash, houses – that sounded so fantastical to his fellow Venetians that they did not know whether to believe him or not. Over the years, people took him more and more seriously. His name for north China – Cathay, which derived from the Khitans, the previous rulers – went into European languages and Mongolian as the name for all China.
  1. He inspired Columbus. Marco’s information found its way on to a mid-15th century world map, which showed ‘Cathay’, with a mass of cities (including Xanadu and Beijing), and Japan. It was this vision of infinite wealth that drew Columbus, and inspired him to suggest a new way to the East – by sailing west across the ocean that should, in theory, have separated Europe from China. By chance, America was in the way. Of course, in an age of exploration, someone would have made the discovery sometime, but without Marco hovering over his shoulder, not Columbus, and not in 1492.

Adventure, accuracy, personality, significance: these are the prime qualities of Marco’s story, which is why he deserves his fame, why I wrote about him, and why Netflix backed John Fusco’s 10-part drama.

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