Skip to comments.Kingdom of Heaven - Movie on the Crusades: Will it Rewrite History?
Posted on 04/14/2005 11:33:01 AM PDT by Pyro7480
Gladiator director Ridley Scott returns to the historical epic with a film about the Crusades. Will the potentially controversial tale starring Orlando Bloom be enough to revive a flagging genre?
With the failure of King Arthur, the critical mauling dished out to Troy and the disastrous performance of Oliver Stone's Alexander, the historical epic has been unable to capitalise on the surge of interest instigated by Gladiator's enormous success. It's only right then that Hollywood's continued interest in the genre will rest with Ridley Scott's Crusades film Kingdom Of Heaven. If it works it will give the historical epic a much-needed shot in the arm.
The film focusses on the run up to the third Crusade in the 12th century and promises to deliver onscreen carnage on a vast scale. Orlando Bloom stars as Balian, a French blacksmith reluctantly drafted into the Crusades after travelling to Jerusalem to absolve himself of sin after his wife's suicide. Jerusalem at this time was ruled by the Catholic king, Baldwin IV, but he's suffering from leprosy and his policy that Muslims, Jews and Christians should be able to co-exist is under threat from his brother-in-law, Guy De Lusignan (Csokas), who is intent on wiping out the Muslims.
Given that one of the film's biggest set-pieces is the Battle of Hattin, in which the Crusaders are slaughtered by the forces of Muslim leader Saladin (Massoud), and the other major battle is Saladin's subsequent siege of Jerusalem, the film sounds potentially controversial, especially in the current political climate. According to Scott, though, it's actually the Christian forces that come off worst. "All you've got to do is tell the truth," says the director. "The whitest knight was Saladin and the worst fundamentalists were Christian. They made the problem."
Predictably the film has already upset some people. An article in The New York Times, which attempted to stir up controversy by supplying a number of academics with a purloined copy of the script, quoted one expert on Islamic history as saying the movie would teach people to hate Muslims by propagating stereotypes of them as "retarded, backward [and] unable to think in complex form". An article in the 'Telegraph' quoted several British academics who believed the film (which no one has seen) pandered to Islamic fundamentalism by portraying the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised and the Crusaders as brutes and barbarians.
Seems Scott can't win, but he has nothing but praise for writer William Monahan's script, describing it as "the best material I've ever had". A former journalist, Monahan used primary sources as much as possible to shape the story and while some will question the film's accuracy, as Scott points out, history is conjecture anyway. "There's 300 years of perception and a mass of material so what you do is you glean through a lot of it and form your own opinion."
What's not in any doubt is the quality of the cast Scott has assembled. Bloom may not have impressed in Troy but his character here is more chivalrous and it certainly promises to be a meatier, grungier role if he can muster the necessary gravitas. He's joined by rising star Eva Green (The Dreamers), who plays Lusignan's wife Sybilla and adds romantic tension by falling for Balian. Add to this mix Liam Neeson as Balian's father, Jeremy Irons as Tiberius, an uncredited Ed Norton as King Baldwin and the likes of David Thewlis and Brendan Gleeson in supporting roles and it's hard to see how Scott can go wrong.
Come again? The Muslim hoardes invade more than half of the land that was then Christian, enslave pilgrims to the Holy Land, and the Christians are somehow at fault? Sheesh...
Are you really suprised?
lol. That is correct. Muslims had absolutely nothing to do with the Crusades and the Catholic Church was just being a viscious, racist, tyrant in attacking a poor, innocent people. /sarcasm
Very disappointing. I was really looking forward to this movie. Guess I won't be seeing it. The black legend of the Crusades, as with many black legends about the Catholic Church, was created by the Protestants to attack the Church. I was hoping that recent events might have caused some to revisit the Crusades in a more historically accurate way.
Saladin WAS a good guy. The problem is that PC history forgets that he was hardly typical of Muslim leaders.
Well, to give the benefit of the doubt to at least the movie, the content of the movie may not reflect the content of the director, since the movie does supposedly portray the massacre of a Crusader force trapped in a city. If they somehow portray the Crusaders as "deserving" it, then it deserves not to be seen.
I don't know much about Saladin, so I'll give you that. But to say the Christians "made the problem" is inaccurate, at best.
King Arthur was probably the best of the ones mentioned, but an amazonian Guenevere? C'mon!
Troy just plain stank.
Alexander was a movie-length commercial for homosexuality.
Maybe if they put out good historical films they'd actually see some measure of success. Just reading the above I can tell you that Kingdom will bomb because of Scott's comment about Christians being the bad guys.
It is possible that the movie will make out better than the sophomoric Troy, and the rest of pop-history movies of late. It will nevertheless be trash.
Our century is organically uncapable of understandiing the Crusades: we barely understand Christian or Muslim basics, we are indoctrinated against all holy works and all expresison of piety, we cannot conceive of a grassroots military enterprise even on a modest scale, and we fear war.
Choosing this subject is a dumb idea. But then one of the characteristics of the dumb is that they don't understand their limitation.
What, you mean the Lord of the Rings movies weren't historical? :-)
I've also been looking forward to it. I've been on a Crusade mode in my book selections recently. I believe there were atrocities on both sides. I certainly don't believe that the Muslims were the innocent oppressed people that many are claiming. So far I think I'll still see it.
One of my wishes is that a good movie would be made about Richard the Lion-Heart. I don't know of many people who had a more interesting life.
That's Celtic. And smile when you say that, podnuh! (I'd love to see the screenwriter's evidence that Pict women participated in battle. It does seem to be a nod to modern sensibilities.)
I thought it was a good movie but I'm a sucker for any treatment of the Arthurian story.
From your first link:
It was in the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century that the current view of the Crusades was born. Most of the philosophes, like Voltaire, believed that medieval Christianity was a vile superstition. For them the Crusades were a migration of barbarians led by fanaticism, greed, and lust. Since then, the Enlightenment take on the Crusades has gone in and out of fashion. The Crusades received good press as wars of nobility (although not religion) during the Romantic period and the early twentieth century. After the Second World War, however, opinion again turned decisively against the Crusades. In the wake of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, historians found war of ideologyany ideology distasteful. This sentiment was summed up by Sir Steven Runciman in his three-volume work, A History of the Crusades (1951-54). For Runciman, the Crusades were morally repugnant acts of intolerance in the name of God. The medieval men who took the cross and marched to the Middle East were either cynically evil, rapaciously greedy, or naively gullible. This beautifully written history soon became the standard. Almost single-handedly Runciman managed to define the modern popular view of the Crusades.
I never knew Martin Luther felt that way about the Crusades, although it does say that he changed his mind when Austria was overrun.
The second paragraph though I think is more relevant in that it states that the current thoughts about the Crusades come from people who hate Christianity in general.
In all my talks with people I have never seen a Protestant use the Crusades against the Catholics. I have seen over and over unbelievers using the Crusades against Christianity in general.
Your second link is about the Inquisition, not the Crusades.