Tamburlaine - The Movie

April 22, 2005

In the course of one of my literature classes, I came across Christopher Marlowe’s “Tamburlaine the Great”. It’s quite an interesting play, based loosely on the life of Timur the Lame, a Scythian shepherd, who somehow managed to become the ruler of half of Asia during the 14th century:

From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits,
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,
We’ll lead you to the stately tent of war,
Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine
Threat’ning the world with high astounding terms
And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.
(Prologue 1-5)

The play has some fantastic lines, and although there’s basically just an arch-villain and no good guy, this play should have been made into a movie ages ago. Just picture the following: Tamburlaine, although being brutal and merciless at times, has his own way of besieging a city. The first day, he dresses himself, his army, the tents, even the horses, in white. During that day, the citizens of the city have the choice to surrender, and if they do, Tamburlaine will only take the city and spare every citizen. If they miss this chance, the next day Tamburlaine dresses everyone and everything in red. If the people of the besieged city now surrender to him and his army, he will kill only every man capable of carrying a weapon. Quite a good deal really. But if they miss that one chance as well they are doomed. The next day the colour en vogue is black and you can guess what this means. Tamburlaine simply overruns the city, killing every single citizen.

Now think of “Hero”, the beautifully made Chinese film by Yimou Zhang, where the five episodes are colour coded. If this man made “Tamburlaine the Great” into a movie, it would quite probably be filled not only with the most epic, but also the most beautifully violent slayings of all time. Since I’ve already proposed a director, here’s my choice for Tamburlaine: Jesse Borrego. I think he did quite a good job in the third season of “24”, and I’m sure that if given the opportunity to portray the most brutal warmonger in history he could be brilliant. I wouldn’t want an actor who’s already too famous, because it wouldn’t give enough credit to the role of Tamburlaine, so that really makes Borrego a perfect choice.

Right, so if there are any producers out there who’d want to actually take on this great play, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ve got it all figured out already. All you need to bring is the money.