Summer blockbusters have become the epics of our time. Films like The Avengers or the Star Wars saga are full of heavy spectacle and dominate the box office. What they have in common is the shift to less practical effects. Films with big budgets often rely on state-of-the-art tech to even simulate real-world settings. Akan Satayev’s The Legend of Tomiris is an exception. Its use of location shooting, armies of extras, and long-form storytelling give it a good old-fashioned epic quality.
Set in the Real World
One of the most underrated elements of film production is location shooting. This is often the most glaring hole in effects-driven films. While some big-budget films are shooting outside again, many still rely on sets or green screens. The legend of Tomiris appears to be shot almost entirely on location. The sweeping imagery of the Kazakhstan plains is visually stunning. Combined with practical sets, the film has a tangible feel to it.
An Army of Extras
Another rare quality of The Legend of Tomiris is its heavy use of live extras. The film utilizes an army of actors to pull off its massive battle sequences. The film is reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia with its massive amounts of extra actors. The Legend of Tomiris has epic horse-riding shots that feature lots of riders. On the battlefield, the crowds of people in combat are equally impressive as bodies fill the frame. The scale of those shots emphasizes the force of the Steppe people.
From Beginning to End
The film’s runtime is long, and it feels that way. While you could fairly criticize the film’s length, it does allow for long-form storytelling. The film begins from the birth of Tomiris to her eventual triumph. You follow her throughout various periods of life. By the end, you feel as though you have a good sense of who she is. The connection the audience has to her is crucial. You care about Tomiris as a character. By the end, you feel as though you have triumphed with her and her people.
If you are a fan of classic epics, The Legend of Tomiris is sure to entertain you from start to finish.