Orda (The Horde) (2012)
Director: Andrei Proshkin.
Starring: Maksim Sukhanov (Metropolitan Aleksei), Roza Khayrullina (Taidula), Innokenti Dakaiarov (Khan Dzhanivek), Aleksandr Yatsenko (Fedka), Vitaliy Khaev (Prince Ivan), Aleksey Yegorov (Badakul), Fedot Lvov (Timer), Andrey Panin (Khan Tinibek), Aleksey Shevchenkov (Vasili the stoker), Moge Oorzhak (Berdibek), Romuald Andrzej Klos (Ambasador).
Metropolitan Archbishop Aleksii cures the blindness of Taidula, the mother of Jani Beg (Khan of the Golden Horde from 1342 to 1357), thereby preventing a Tatar raid on Moscow (the crown prince of Moscow was Ivan II the Handsome, 1353-1359)
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Men are walking down a tunnel. The guide says something and a man behind him asks another man what did the guide say? The guide said not to step on the threshold. The two men have to carefully step over the threshold to make sure they don't step on the carved design. Now the two Western clergy have to crawl on all fours. Then they have to go carefully over another threshold. The room is a large one and people are eating there. The two foreigners are introduced as Latin ambassadors from their Holy Father. The man in charge, the Great Khan, wants to know where are the gifts the foreigners are supposed to bring? The problem is that the foreigners were robbed on their way here by bandits.
The Great Khan introduces his brother Janibek.
The religious men says that they came to the Great Khan from Avignon for the Reverend Pope Innocent the Sixth.
Khan says these foreigners have to come to his land to spy on him to see if he plans to go to war against the west. One of the monks says that the question of war is a very important matter for our nations. They add that the Khan won't go to war with them because Avignon, France is just too far for the Mongols. The Khan, however, says he will go there and he will raze the city to the ground. He adds that he's not as cruel as his father was. "I'm kind." For instance, he will not touch the Avignon father but instead will make him the chief shepherd of his flocks.
The Great Khan goes on bragging and threatening until a huge man strangles the smaller man to death. He then tells the two monks to get out. Others leaves too. Only eight men stay behind. He orders them to bring Taidula.
Three women come into the room and the huge man tells the older woman: "Tinibek, your son and my beloved brother, has died." The mother goes to check on Tinibek's body and sees the throat burns on his neck. She says he's been murdered, but the huge fellow says that Tinibek chocked on a mutton bone. Big man says that mother wanted a great Khan for the Great Horde. He wants to become the Great Khan.
Mother leaves the room. She and five others ride to a small settlement. She goes into a yurt and asks for an axe. An older woman brings her the axe. Mother cuts off one of her fingers and the has two assistants wrap the wound up.
A man on horseback shouts: "Uldai, come and be my wife." Uldai just regards this as banter. She goes inside the yurt. Mother drops her clothes off (brief nudity) and the women start giving her a rub-down bath. Then they paint her face white and darken her eyebrows. She looks at herself in a copper mirror and says: "Good."
Mother now rides back to the city. She slaps one of the women and roughs up another. The huge man asks: "Why do you hate them so much?" The women are the big man's wives. Mother says the big man loves his wives, but ". . . why should I?" Mother looks around the room and sees a large, decorated chair. The big man says it's the throne of the Tsar of all Tsars. Mother sits in the chair and her son tells her that if she weren't his mother, he would make her his wife. Mother gets a good laugh out of this and hugs her son. She says he's too fat and lazy for her. And he likes this city which should have been turned into ruins long ago. The big man says some people like the city. Mother replies: "But not the sons of Genghis: they gallop to the edge of the earth, free, and don't regret it. When did you last go to fight? A Mongol who no longer fights, isn't a Mongol."
The royal family watch a wizard from the shores of the Yangtze perform for them. His son Berdibek sits on the floor on the right side of his father. The big man is very happy with the performance, but then mother pulls open his clothing and reveals the ball that the wizard made vanish into thin air. The huge fellow feels that he was tricked and stomps on and kicks the wizard.
Mother and son look out a window and she asks who are those captive people below? Her son replies that those people are Russians. Mother wants a good look at them so she and the Great Khan take their horses and ride down to look at the captives. Khan asks if anyone here has any skills? One man says he is a skinner. Khan will have use for him and his family. Then Khan picks out a man and has one of his men cut off the fellow's head. Mother says take this other prisoner. Off goes his head.
Mother goes over to her horse and faints. The healer smells all over the mother's body and says that she is under a spell. He will cure her blindness with a mixture of camel dung and honey smeared on her eyelids. After applying the "medicine", he tells the mother to open her eyes. Mother complies but says she can't see anything. The Khan says for the healer to get out or he will kill him.
Several healers more are brought in to cure mother's blindness. None of them have any success.
Two men come riding into a village. They ask where are the Moscow people? Did the Mongols kill all the Russians? The answer is that they killed them down to the very last one. The two men say they have come from the the Horde to see the Grand Prince, but they suppose that even the Grand Prince has been killed. Then one of the village residents says that they were only joking. The Moscow people are in the church.
The two new arrivals ride their horses right up into the church where services are being held. Metropolitan Aleksei kneels before the new arrivals. Now everyone else kneels too. One of the Mongols says that this Aleksei is a sorcerer. The other Mongol asks where is the Prince? Prince Ivan is up on the second floor.
The two envoys tell the Prince that the Great Khan Janibek sends his greetings. The envoys then start to use threatening language. They say they were sent here to bring back the head of the Prince. They go on to say that Janibek will crush Moscow, unless the Prince pays tribute to Janibek. The envoys now say they don't need the Prince's head. They have come for the sorcerer, Metropolitan Aleksei.
The Prince goes to speak to the Metropolitan. He says the two envoys say that the Tatars are coming for Moscow. The Prince says they will hold out against the enemy in Vologda, but it's a shame that Moscow will be burned down. There is, however, one way out and that is for the Metropolitan to go to the Horde and work a Christian miracle. The Tatars want the Metropolitan to heal a woman of her blindness. The woman is Taidula, Janibek's mother. Now the Prince begs the Metropolitan to work a miracle. The Metropolitan says the Prince is a blasphemer because miracles lie with God and not with man.
The Prince says the Metropolitan ran the plague out of the town of Vladimir by saying prayers in all the houses. The Metropolitan says that could have been pure chance that the plague left.
The Prince is at a loss as what to do. He goes into the church and prays to Saint Metropolitan Pyotr. He says that if Metropolitan Aleksei can work a miracle, then he will be buried next to Saint Metropolitan Pyotr. The Prince then explains that he just does not have enough men to stop the Tatars. He leaves the church.
Metropolitan Aleksei in a procession walks through Moscow. Along the way, he asks God why has he cast upon him this terrible burden? He gets on a horse and with a few men he sets out for the Horde.
Riding along, the Metropolitan repeatedly asks God not to forsake him. Later he asks one of the Mongol guards, Timehr, why does he grumble all the time? He asks him to sing something instead of grumbling.
They camp at night. The Mongols get assistant Fyodor drunk on their liquor. The Metropolitan does not drink any of the liquor.
They reach the big city the next day. Ferrying across the river, the Metropolitan sees literally thousands of Tatar warriors riding their horses in formation.
To see the Great Khan the Metropolitan and Fyodor have to walk between two walls of fire. The Metropolitan gets through with no damage, but Fyodor gets lit on fire. The Metropolitan puts the fire out.
The guards make the Metropolitan and Fyodor kneel down. The Great Khan comes out and asks the Metropolitan what does he want for curing his mother's blindness? Concubines, virgins, gold, what? The Metropolitan only asks for a fox coat that Fyodor wants so badly. The Khan agrees to that. He now takes the Metropolitan and Fyodor to see his mother. Taidula feels the Metropolitan's face, beard and hair. She says she remembers the old man. The old man says he remembers Taidula too. Khan leaves.
The Metropolitan prays to God to heal Taidula. He also pours water over her face. He has her open her eyes and he flicks water into them. She dries off her face and he tells her to open her eyes. Taidula says that she sees the same darkness as before. A soldier comes in to check on the progress of the patient. He comes out saying that the old man is useless and he's going to tell Khan that too. Khan comes and watches as Fyodor keeps having the Metropolitan try different things. But nothing brings success.
The guards now strip the Metropolitan of his clothes. Khan comes over and pours the holy water on the head of the Metropolitan. He says: "Now go wherever you choose. I have no need of you anymore." The holy man puts some cloth around his privates and walks out the gate. Khan tells Timehr to go and watch over that man. He does not want him to die before he sees how Khan will destroy his city.
The Metropolitan walks through the down town market area. He stops to get some water. One of the two monks from Avignon is still in the village. He sees the old man and asks him if he is from a Christian country? The Metropolitan says he's Russian. The monk says he is so happy to see someone he can talk to. He tells the man to come with him and he will give him some clothes. The monk explains they have been here so long that they have now become beggars. The other monk says he thinks he knows who the stranger is. He asks his name. The stranger says he has no name any more. He takes his bread he got from the monks and walks away.
He walks through the wide open fields. Timehr watches him from afar. The Metropolitan sits and rests under the shade of a tree. He sees a slave caravan go by. He decides to follow it.
At the slave destination, it is decided that the Metropolitan is useless. The order is given to kill the old man. Timehr rides by and tells the slaver that the Khan wants that man to live to see his city burned down. The slaver now rushes over to make sure that the death sentence is not carried out on the old man.
The Metropolitan is sent to the baths. He has to work with other slaves carrying baskets of mud to the pit. In the pit the old man finds Fyodor hard at work. He calls out to Fyodor saying that he's the Holy Master. Fyodor thinks that's funny and starts laughing. Other slaves join in on the laughter.
The Khan watches the shooting off of a cannon, something he has never seen before. The test is a success and the Khan now says he will have thunder on his side. And now the Khan gives the order to kill one out of every three slaves.
The old man and some other slaves are out picking up cow dung. One of the slaves is very curious about the old man's background and starts asking him a lot of questions. The Metropolitan says he came of his own free will, but he can't explain why. The other slave tips over the old man's basket and tells him to get to work, Your Holy Master.
Two men come out to kill a slave. A guard points one out and the slave gets his throat cut.
The Metropolitan tries to make contact with Fyodor again, but this time Fyodor tries to strangle the old man. Other slaves come over and start kicking Fyodor. They only stop kicking when the old man asks them to please stop kicking the man.
The talk is that they are killing slaves at a fast pace now. They wonder if it has anything to do with the "Holy Master".
The old man is chosen to be one of those who die, but when the selector gets a close look at the man, he chooses another man: Fyodor. The Holy Master tells the selector to take him because he was the one selected. The selector won't say why. He just says that the old man will live and the other man will die.
The old man's clothes catch on fire and he decides to let the fire take his life. At first the slave leader Vasily just tells everyone to go on working, but then he can't bear to see the old man burn to death. He grabs a big bowl of mud and throws it onto the old man's flaming back. Other slaves brings more mud and throw it on the old man. Once the fire is out, they take him outside the mine into the rain. Timehr comes over and sends the slaves back to work. He then tells the old man that he is badly burnt. Timehr leaves him there. The Metropolitan begs God to take his life and save the life of Fyodor.
The next morning the Great Khan comes to find the old man. He finds him still alive, but totally covered in mud. He kneels down and bows to the old man. The men bring a stretcher for the exhausted man. Khan gets mad at Timehr and slashes his face with a horse whip. He tells Timehr that he almost drove this saint to death.
The Metropolitan is taken to the baths. He slowly lowers himself into the bath that contains the fish. Later they dress him and then bring out food for him to eat. Timehr urges him to eat the food.
The Metropolitan is now a hero. He is given a decree that exempts his church from paying any taxes to the Mongols. And Moscow will be safe. There will be no war. The Khan has also saved Fyodor. They give him the fox coat he wanted. Fyodor helps the Metropolitan get on his horse. And now the same four men that went from Moscow to the city of the Great Khan are now making the trip back to Moscow. Timehr says the Metropolitan worked a miracle, but the old man keeps on saying: "I did nothing. Nothing."
On the way out, the Metropolitan stops to give the two monks from Avignon a way to escape: a good horse with supplies.
Coming to the outskirts of Moscow, Timehr hands the Metropolitan a ring from Taidula. The old man tells Timehr to keep the ring for himself. The two guards leave for home.
The Great Khan and his court watch a dance performance by some men. He puts on a mask like the male dancers had on and plays the clown, but he flounders around and then collapses. He dies laying on the floor. Berdibek will now be the Tsar of Tsars.
Soon the Horde is on the move. Taidula asks her grandson how her son died. Berdibek says that it seems he chocked on something. Taidula gets on her horse and rides out of her little village. Now all the soldiers kneel before the new Great Khan.
"Berdibek was killed two years later, and the unending war for the Khanate began. Fierce strife broke the Khanate into small parts, which, with time, were assimilated by the growing Rus (Russia). And that was the end of the Great Horde."
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