THE LEGEND OF TOMIRIS review by Patrick Hendrickson

THE LEGEND OF TOMIRIS review by Patrick Hendrickson

THE LEGEND OF TOMIRIS tells the long and almost mythical tale of Queen Tomiris (Almira Tursyn) of the Massagetae people. The film begins her birth and ends with the legendary conflict between Tomiris and the Persian king Cyrus the Great (Ghassan Massoud). It should be noted firstly that I am unfamiliar with the historical tale of Tomiris and so I cannot judge this film based on accuracy. There exist multiple accounts of Cyrus’ death as well, but legend has it that Tomiris and her forces took his life in defense of their homeland. Tomiris herself must carry this film almost entirely on her own, which is fitting given the title.

This places a heavy burden on the shoulders of Tursyn, and she handles that burden with a compelling performance as the wayward queen. Tomiris is a fighter from the time she is a little girl and Tursyn’s portrayal is one of fearlessness and ambition. The only missed opportunity in having such a strong lead is that the rest of the characters fall by the wayside. These characters include Chief Spargap, Tomiris’ father, who raises Tomiris in her very early years before being cut down in a coup by duplicitous tribesmen. The two assassins of Spargap are Kurtun and Kavaz who are played by Berik Aytzhanov and Satybaldy Azamat respectively. Tomiris is saved from the brink of death after the rest of her clan is wiped out by a warrior woman named Sardana who is played by Aizhan Lighg. Sardana becomes one of Tomiris’ most trusted allies. Finally there is Argun, played by Adil Akhmetov, a warrior in a neighboring tribe who eventually becomes Tomiris’ husband.

The one standout character aside from Tomiris would be a Massagetae holy man who performs elaborate rituals such as blessing Tomiris’ forces at their first battle and conducting Tomiris’ wedding to Argun. This is a truly mesmerizing performance that overshadows even Tursyn’s portrayal of the queen.

The production has a very muted tone and aesthetic to it which grounds the events being shown. The primary colors of this film are browns, dark tans, taupes, and even more browns. The sound design further aids this muted aesthetic with thundering horse hooves and the clanging of metal weaponry. This epic includes everything from shrewd political maneuvering to battle strategy to outright warfare and each scene flows wonderfully into the next. Thankfully, the movie maintains an active pace and does not linger too long on any particular scene. The long runtime of this film means that proper pacing is absolutely paramount to an enjoyable viewing. The sheer breadth of this legend also necessitates such a long runtime as there is a lot of ground to cover. The filmmakers handle these things expertly and should be lauded for it.

The war scenes in particular come as pure kinetic action with fast cuts and acrobatic choreography. The violence is brutal but does not cross the threshold of becoming obscenely gory. That lack of indulgence is a highly appealing aspect of this film because it allows the characters to remain the focus of the story rather than the violence overtaking everything around it. This combined with excellent pacing and standout performances earns THE LEGEND OF TOMIRIS a 5/5

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