Marco Polo

Marco Polo poster

At the age of 16, Marco decides to leave Venice and follow his father and his uncle, both merchants traveling to Asia. After a journey of three years through deserts and mountains, they reach Caracorum, in China. There rules Kubilai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, a formidable, ruthless leader. He is inhabited by the vision of a world dominated by mongols. The first step is to annihilate the Chinese resistance in the South, then to conquer the world. Left by his father as a servant for the Khan, Marco must learn quick how to survive at the Mongol court. Cunning and observant, and fascinated by the Khan, he makes his way as an adviser and a protector, despite the opposition of several members of the Khan’s family.

This 2014 series has aged a bit, but not that much. The narration is very classic, except for a few scenes of raw violence, especially in season 2. Some scenes could also have gained in efficiency by being shorter. But the plot is gripping, the characters strong and well-balanced. The casting is a success. The costumes are magnificent, and the dreamy landscapes are a feast for the eyes. Focused on the first years of Marco Polo at the Mongol court (he will stay there 17 years), the series depicts the conquest of South China during the first season, then the quarels between mongols and the role of the pope in season 2. Season 3 was cancelled (too expansinve). Except for the costumes, the showrunners didn’t try to stick exactly to historical events. However, they deliver a very living version of the way of life of a people now extinct. A very good series !

2 seasons, 20 episodes (50 mn) + 1 episode “Hundred eyes”, 2014-2016, on Netflix

With : Lorenzo Richelmy / Marco Polo, Benedict Wong / Kubilai Khan, Joan Chen / Impress Chabi, Remy Hii / Prince Jingim, Zhu Zhu / Kokachin, Mahesh Jadu / Ahmad, Uli Latukefu / Byamba, Olivia Cheng / Mei Lin, Tom Wu / Hundred eyes, Claudia Kim / Khutulun, Rick Yune / Kaïdu, Chin Han / Jia Sidao, Amr Waked / Yusuf, Pierfrancesco Favino / Niccolò Polo

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