Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Marco Polo

In the past ten days,  V. and I have been watching the Marco Polo series on Netflix.  We're both happy to learn more about the Italian adventurer (whose home in Venice we saw this past October) but more so to learn about Kublai Khan and the great Mongolian empire at its peak.

The sets, costumes and countryside are truly stunning and I marvel at how much beauty the Mongols enjoyed in the 13th Century.  Windows, pillars, floors,  furniture and gardens are equally beautiful and artisan's work is evident in every object, costume and setting that is featured in the series.

Naturally, we are looking mostly at the Khan's dwelling or at the Chinese Emperor's castle but even the yurts that house the tribes of the great Gobi desert are luxuriously decorated. If the storyline doesn't always keep your eyes glued to the television, the visuals will.

The acting is good:  Little known Lorenzo Richelmy plays clever yet humble Marco Polo, well-known Joan Chen plays a favorite wife of the Khan, Tom Wu plays Hundred Eyes the blind monk charged with Marco Polo's education in the martial arts and finally, Chin Han plays the evil Chancellor, hungry for power on the other side of the Great Wall. Benedict Wong is imposing as the Kublai Khan at once tenderhearted and treacherous, a friend and a formidable foe.  His presence, made all the more majestic by his costumes,  is intimidating.

The series is rife with political and sexual intrigue and conflict and if sometimes, I knit while watching, I still look forward to seeing what happens next.

I give the series four stars out of five for stunning visuals and a diverse cast of good actors.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree Stella! The landscapes are what impress me most! But the violence, albeit true to this era, does seem a tad gratuitous. When those scenes come on the screen, I get up and grab some tea! Oh ... et Joyeux Noël! RB