Thursday, February 19, 2015

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is an American-made Historical drama that is based on the real life events of a famous Venetian merchant. Marco Polo is infamous for traveling across all of Asia where he eventully meets the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan, learning the mercantile trade from his Father and Uncle along the way. Polo is kept as an honored captive of the Khan due to his knowledge of Asian trade routes and culture. We follow Marco Polo as he struggles to survive in the foreign Mongolian culture where almost every character, other than the Khan, seems to be attempting to take his life.

This Netflix original series was written and created by John Fusco, starring Lorenzo Richelmy as Marco Polo and Benedict Wong and the great emperor Khan. The first thing that I wish to discuss about this show is how well it teaches the audience about an era in history that is not commonly discussed. Everyone has heard of how Genghis Khan created the Mongolian empire and conquered most of Eurasia after uniting the tribes of Northeastern Asia. I thought it was interesting how this show covers what happens during a later, lesser known generation of the Mongolian reign. Kublai Khan created what is now referred to as the Yuan dynasty, a rich and prosperous time for the Mongolian people. I loved how this show follows Marco Polo, an outsider, as he attempts to learn how to survive in this new culture. As our main character learns more about this new culture the audience is indirectly introduced to these pieces of history as well.

One critique I have for this show is how a huge opportunity was passed when the creators had Marco Polo thrown into captivity so quickly. Not even 5 minutes into the first episode and he was already kneeling at the feet of Kublai Khan. If the writers had delayed this plot point and we had been shown Polo's life before he was taken captive it would have shown a much greater contrast between his living situations, eventually showing a much greater development in his character. While I may have this small complaint about the character Marco Polo, I overall really enjoyed Lorenzo Richelmy's performance.

There are many things that I truly believe this show did extraordinarily well. The cinematography was, at times, beautifully done. The sets were luxurious and grand in scale, accurately depicting the wealth of the Mongolian empire at the time. I thought that the show had a strong cast and was well acted. While the plot may have been a tad bit confusing due to the quick start I believe it was interesting. This is a show that I would recommend if you're interested in the historical drama. I would rate it a 6/10.

(There has been a lot of controversy with this show over the inaccurate depiction and extreme sexualization of women during the Mongolian Empire. If you want to read more about it click here)

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