BBC gives Genghis Khan a makeover

For centuries he has been mythologised as a ruthless barbarian whose bloodlust saw him slaughter millions as he expanded his colossal empire outwards from Mongolia.

But Genghis Khan will see his reputation salvaged with a BBC dramatisation of his life, portraying him as a great and benevolent leader who united warring tribes and brought culture to his people.

The film - a major international co-production to be screened on BBC1 in the coming weeks - will paint him as a brilliant visionary.

Producers of the one-hour film, already sold to Australia and New Zealand, used the same computer technology as the Lord of the Rings trilogy for thebattle scenes.

Khan, born some time after 1160, unified tribes of eastern Asia, and his conquests - including the taking of the Chinese capital Beijing - led to the largest empire ever known, stretching to the Caspian Sea.

Such is his cult in his homeland that one-fifth of the 2.5 million population registered themselves as belonging to Khan's clan.

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