The film that I watched is Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes on Netflix. It tells the origin story of a monk called One Hundred Eyes who is based on Bayan of the Baarinn, the military leader who worked with Kublai Khan. The overall film is relatively short, and in my opinion, it is very visually appealing. It also provides great information about Kublai Khan and his tactics for consolidating power. I know that this movie would be very useful in a lesson plan on the Mongol Empire in a 7th grade world history classroom. When I student taught middle school, kids were fascinated when learning about the Mongol Empire and the Khans. It is always an area of interest when kids learn about how much power and land these larger-than-life leaders consolidated. This film does a fantastic job in depicting the “why” even if it is for a relatively short time. Firstly, the Khan’s surrounded themselves with extraordinary people that often bore special skills or talents. Hundred Eyes is depicted as an immensely wise monk that is incredibly skilled in combat. This film can be watched before a lesson plan on the Mongol Empire and the Kham as a “hook” to get students interest and attention. Students of history often engage better with the historical content when they learn about it through the story of interesting people rather than just events and dates they get from a textbook.
It can also be watched after having covered the Mongol Empire through a discussion with students. Some discussion questions that could be used are, “What do you notice about the Khan’s feelings about spirituality/religion?”, “What does Kublai Khan say about skilled workers he spares when making war? Why do you think he does this?”, “What were some wise quotes you heard One hundred eyes say? What do you think they mean?” Lastly, Kublai Khan is the man that unified China and began the Yuan dynasty. Even though he is a secondary character in this film, he does appear extensively. Students could be asked to take notes on everything Kublai Khan does and says in the film then answer the question, “Why do you think Kublai Khan was successful in unifying China?” Overall, this a short, visually appealing, educational film that has a significant amount of action and interesting characters. It would be perfect for a classroom setting.