Have you seen this movie, Kingdom of Heaven? I’ll admit, it’s no Troy, but it’s still a hoot.
Kingdom of Heaven asks a question that has plagued historians for decades: what would happen if a late 20th-century, secular, agnostic, multiculturalist, progressive, sensitive Hollywood type were to be transported back in time to participate in one of history’s grandest spectacles? Could one of the most embarrassingly culturally insensitive chapters of our history be rewritten or perhaps even avoided altogether, through the efforts of one determined, sensitive man who is as open-minded about stuff as we are?
It’s a neat idea, and it is arguably needed now more than ever. So Ridley Scott, himself a knight like Walter Scott before him, sets the Wayback for the late 12th Century, and sends a former elf named Legolas back to medieval Jerusalem, just to see if he can single-handedly make the Crusades more palatable to modern sensibilities by forging a caring, mutually-fulfilling Christian-Saracen support network in the Crusader Kingdom.
With Roger Ebert:
The first thing to be said for Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” is that Scott knows how to direct a historical epic. I might have been kinder to his “Gladiator” had I known that “Troy” and “Alexander” were in my future, but “Kingdom of Heaven” is better than “Gladiator” — deeper, more thoughtful, more about human motivation and less about action.
The second thing is that Scott is a brave man to release a movie at this time about the wars between Christians and Muslims for control of Jerusalem. Few people will be capable of looking at “Kingdom of Heaven” objectively. I have been invited by both Muslims and Christians to view the movie with them so they can point out its shortcomings. When you’ve made both sides angry, you may have done something right. The Muslim scholar Hamid Dabashi, however, after being asked to consult on the movie, writes in the new issue of Sight & Sound: “It was neither pro- nor anti-Islamic, neither pro- nor anti-Christian. It was, in fact, not even about the ‘Crusades.'” And yet I consider the film to be a profound act of faith.” It is an act of faith, he thinks, because for its hero Balian (Orlando Bloom), who is a non-believer, “All religious affiliations fade in the light of his melancholic quest to find a noble purpose in life.”
Which reviewer do you think gives you a pretty accurate description of what you will get for ten dollars- Doktor Franks, or the several hundred word exercise in fawning praise and sycophantic genuflection offered by Ebert?
I know what my choice is…