‘Marco Polo’ had no relationship with the courtesan of Kublai Khan’s court, the expensive Netflix drama is more of a historic fiction with little accuracy.
Based on the 13th-century Venetian explorer, the big-budgeted, highly expensive Netflix series ‘Marco Polo‘, deals with the intrigues of the titular explorer and his years at the court of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. But, according to Mongolian history experts, the series is full of historical errors.
- Netflix made ‘Marco Polo’ to beat HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’
- ‘Marco Polo’ is more of a fiction and very less history
- Mongolians love Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’ despite historical inaccuracy
Netflix made ‘Marco Polo’ to beat HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’
The romantic angles and other story arcs are pure fiction and were crafted mainly to tantalize the audience who were looking for something like ‘Game of Thrones‘ on Netflix.
The streaming giant, Netflix, to gain an edge over HBO’s huge hit ‘Game of Thrones’, spent tens of millions of dollars on ‘Marco Polo’.
The series portrays, as seen through ‘Marco Polo’s eyes, conflicts and rebellions in the Mongol empire under Kublai Khan. The expensive Netflix drama had everything from swashbuckling swordfights, intricate costumes, mass battles, and palace plots to please the fans.
The grandson of the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, Kublai, was a phenomenal warrior himself. He ruled China and present-day Mongolia from 1260 to 1294. People in Mongolia were extremely excited to see Mongolian actor being cast as Kublai’s brother Ariq Boke. And also the occasional Mongol phrase made them happy even though most of the leading roles went to Chinese actors. The lead role of Kublai Khan went to British Benedict Wong, a man of Chinese descent.
‘Marco Polo’ is more of a fiction and very less history
What bothered Mongolian historians was that much of the plot of ‘Marco Polo’ plays fast and loose with the facts.
One of the historian, Batsukh Otgonsereenen, who spent 10 years researching his book “The History of Kublai Khan”, claimed that ‘Marco Polo’ is 80 percent fiction. He told AFP: “From a historical standpoint, 20 percent of the film was actual history and 80 percent fiction.”
“The part where Kublai and Ariq Boke fight to a bloody death in front of their soldiers is completely untrue“, according to him. Ariq Boke’s story was particularly twisted, he said,
“Yes, Ariq did try to seize the throne, but in history, Kublai and Ariq resolved their issues”
There is no historic evidence to support that concubine-assassins were supposedly sent by a minister of the rival Song dynasty to seduce Kublai and kill his queen. This was also a fantasy made up by Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’.
Otgonsereenen kept a huge historic fact in front saying, “Mongolian Khans never wed or had concubines that were totally unknown“.
Commenting on the explicit palace of Kublai Khan on the series, he said,
“Kublai also did not live in a palace. He lived in his royal ger in Beijing, in a traditional Mongolian manner”.
Otgonsereenen said that the research on Kublai by the creators of the series seemed “very sloppy“.
The historian, taking a jibe on the series, quipped,
“I think they tried to show Mongolian history like ‘Game of Thrones’ with conspiracy, betrayal, blood, and sex”.
Otgonsereenen feels that Mongolian youth will be misguided seeing the series and will have a wrong impression of Kublai Khan.
Netflix titled the series ‘Marco Polo’ only because America doesn’t know Kublai Khan
‘Marco Polo’ ( played by Lorenzo Richelmy), was a Venetian merchant who spent more than two decades in Central Asia and China with his father and uncle. He served Kublai Khan for years as his minister and envoy.
Later, after his return, he documented his journeys to the east in “Book of the Marvels of the World”, also known as “The Travels of Marco Polo”, that actually propelled him to mediaeval superstardom.
Though he became by far the most famous explorer, he was not the first European to travel to Asia. His descriptions of the Far East inspired Christopher Columbus who later became famous for discovering the Americas.
Most US critics have criticised saying the show is more about Kublai Khan and less about ‘Marco Polo’. The latter’s name is used in the title because he is more famous than the former in the USA.
Review aggregator Rottentomatoes.com gave 30% ratings and the consensus was that it is “an all-round disappointment”.
Mongolians love Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’ despite historical inaccuracy
Even though the series is historically inaccurate, Mongolian viewers praised the series because a remote country like theirs got global representation.
“As a Mongol and an artist, ‘Marco Polo’ makes me feel like our dreams are coming true”
Orgil Narangerel, who played Genghis Khan in a BBC documentary told AFP. He said that he binged watched the entire series in a day.
During the times of Kublai Khan, Mongol forces conquered China and ruled it for almost a century, but modern Mongolia is now subdued by its giant southern neighbour.
One of the movie blogger Tegshjargal Jalanajav was satisfied by the ‘Marco Polo’ series and said:
“To people who like to argue that Kublai Khan was a Chinese king, this show makes it clear he was a Mongolian king.”
Let us know if you want to see the second season of ‘Marco Polo’. Drop your thoughts regarding the Netflix drama in the comments box below.