May 8th, 2005

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Ridley Scott should be fucking crucified

To my extreme dismay, I had the dubious pleasure earlier to see Kingdom of Heaven at the local movie theatre with Brian and his family. I came out of that movie in a rage. I can't believe that someone allowed that racist, bigoted, bullshit to ever hit the screen. I'm not sure who has the right to be more pissed off, historians or christians. Even knowing how hollywood takes factual liberties in their movies, this went far beyond the pale. I'll need to outline a synopsis of sorts in order to point out what I found distressing about this piece of filth and why I believe someone should flog scott within an inch of his life.

Orlando Bloom (Girly elf boy) is a blacksmith in france. His wife had a kid croak in labor. In grief and/or PPD, she offs herself. Liam Neison (I sign onto movies just to get killed), a minor nobleman who has been granted lands and title in jeruselum stops by to find his bastard son he's never known. He offers to take Bloom away with him to the holy land and after some altercations, he accepts. They wander off to the 'kingdom of heaven' but Liam has taken a wound that's gone bad and croaks soon after. Before he dies, he knights bloom and grants him his hereditary title/lands. The king of jeruselum is a man of peace...he also happens to be a leper. He and the muslim leader saladim (if I'm spelling this wrong I don't give a fuck) want to create a world of peace and understanding. After all, we know that that's what that time period between christians and muslims was all about. Unfortunately, there are mean dastardly people who want to start wars. The templars are going around slaughtering innocent caravans and basically trying to goad the peaceful muslims into conflict. After one provocation, the leper king and saladim meet and it's decided that all is still good. The templers then go and slaughter some more people including saladim's sister. The leper king croaks at this point and the evil warmongering templar knight is made king. Saladim is obviously upset at this action and sends a emissary to say that he wants his sister's body back and whoever responsible to be punished. A most measured and reasonable request. The king of course slaughters him with what fucking looks like a letter opener in the middle of the court.

Cue the war. Templars ride out under their idiot king and get slaughtered. Bloom is left to defend the city against the muslim attack. He rallies the common people, fights off wave after wave, and then in the end meets with saladim and negotiates a surrender of the city where in exchange, all the men, women and children get escorted back to christian lands. More or less the end. I'm leaving out all sorts of bullshit about a love story and a plethora of other annoying crap about how only fairy elf boy realizes that one can dig wells to find water but apparently no one else had ever considered that.

What pisses me off so much about this movie is it is racist and bigoted to the core. I've seen a more fair and balanced presentation of the facts in nazi progroganda films. Every single person in the movie who avows that they are a christian is evil, conniving, selfish, and basically a horror of a human being. When the muslims approach the city for instance, the bishop says that the knights should abandon the city (with him of course) on fast horses and head for the coast. When asked what about the women and children and infanty, he responds that they should die, because, well, it's god's will after all. During the later scene as Bloom is about to go out to negotiate, the same bishop says that they should accept any terms and convert to islam. After all, they can always repent later. I cannot express how fucking disgusted I am with this film and its portrayal.

First of all, Bloom, Neison, and the Leper King (despite being crusaders) all lack faith. Instead, they ramble on about how it's only important to do what you know is right and that faith and the church have no value. I cannot believe that Scott could have written this tripe and not choked on it. It's like arguing that columbus sailed across the ocean not because he was looking for a route to india but because he was bored and wanted to go on a sailing pleasure jaunt. It's so divergent from reality as to not be believed. No man who believes in God is anything less than a scoundrel. The more loose your conviction, the better person you are.

Second, well, it seems Scott's bashing of faith only holds true for whitey christians. The muslims are painted as wonderful people without exception. The closest we get to a negative muslim character is one aide to saladim who urges an attack before saladim feels he has his logistics in place to support one and dares to utter his belief that God will bring them victory. We repeatedly see the muslim army demonstrating their faith and yet they remain noble and temperate characters. Saladim however is cut to be another who pays lipservice at best to his religion, something else which is historically unthinkable.

I can't help but think that if these depictions were reversed we would have protests by people of every stripe, chances are led by the big liberal hippie machine. This film was garbage of the highest order and I fear that it's only one symptom of greater idiocy. People often scoff when they hear others claim that there's a green light to attack christians but as far as I can see, it's true. See this movie and change the portrayals of the two groups in your mind. Whether you wish to put muslims or jews or buddhists or even hindus in as a substitute for the christian crusaders ask yourself this, would the way the film portrays the adherents of that religion bother you and make you think it was clear bigotry or racism.

None of this was to say that the crusaders were nice people. Many did have ulterior motives in going off to jeruselum that included conquest and lands but many others (ecspecially the non-combatants) went there wanting nothing more than the visit and worship at the site where their savior died. None of these people were given voice in this movie. Instead we see clear linkage between levels of religious faith and levels of evil...only for christians of course. That could never occur for Muslims.
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Flog Ridley Scott

Since it wouldn't fit as a comment:

So Mock, in his defense of Ridley Scott's film has brought in a bunch of his knowledge about the crusades. Seeing as my knowledge base consists of havingly only read tangentially on the subject and watching a two hour special on the history channel, I think I'll go to my corner and tag in academics with PhD's and who have spent their entire lives studying the crusades. Why don't we see what they have to say about whether there was clear bias in the films?

"Crusades scholar Jonathan Riley-Smith, a Cambridge professor, says the film is far more indebted to "The Talisman," a book published in 1825 by Sir Walter Scott that Riley-Smith says has been thoroughly discredited by subsequent research....It's basically Osama bin Laden's version of history," said Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, a British academic and expert on the Crusades. "It depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality. He further says that the idea of some coalition between Muslims, Christians and Jews is "rubbish" and "utter nonsense."

So far I haven't read one positive take on this movie yet from any historian. They all seem to universally believe that Scott butchered the topic and added a tremendous amount of bias. This guy above is supposed to be a leading crusade historian cited in a crapload of papers and his take on it synchs with what I've read and what I saw in the movie.

Here's a whole slew of academics taking shots at the movie:

Ridley Scott's new Crusades film 'panders to Osama bin Laden'

By Charlotte Edwardes

Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say "distorts" the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light.

The £75 million film, which stars Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, is described by the makers as being "historically accurate" and designed to be "a fascinating history lesson".

Sir Ridley Scott
Academics, however - including Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain's leading authority on the Crusades - attacked the plot of Kingdom of Heaven, describing it as "rubbish", "ridiculous", "complete fiction" and "dangerous to Arab relations".

The film, which began shooting last week in Spain, is set in the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187 when Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims.

The script depicts Baldwin's brother-in-law, Guy de Lusignan, who succeeds him as King of Jerusalem, as "the arch-villain". A further group, "the Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians", is introduced, promoting an image of cross-faith kinship.

"They were working together," the film's spokesman said. "It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar cause friction between them."

The Knights Templar, the warrior monks, are portrayed as "the baddies" while Saladin, the Muslim leader, is a "a hero of the piece", Sir Ridley's spokesman said. "At the end of our picture, our heroes defend the Muslims, which was historically correct."

Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was "complete and utter nonsense". He said that it relied on the romanticised view of the Crusades propagated by Sir Walter Scott in his book The Talisman, published in 1825 and now discredited by academics.

"It sounds absolute balls. It's rubbish. It's not historically accurate at all. They refer to The Talisman, which depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality."

Prof Riley-Smith added: "Guy of Lusignan lost the Battle of Hattin against Saladin, yes, but he wasn't any badder or better than anyone else. There was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense."

Dr Jonathan Philips, a lecturer in history at London University and author of The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, agreed that the film relied on an outdated portrayal of the Crusades and could not be described as "a history lesson".

He said: "The Templars as 'baddies' is only sustainable from the Muslim perspective, and 'baddies' is the wrong way to show it anyway. They are the biggest threat to the Muslims and many end up being killed because their sworn vocation is to defend the Holy Land."

Dr Philips said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, Sir Ridley was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride.

Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley's efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. "It's Osama bin Laden's version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists."

Amin Maalouf, the French historian and author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, said: "It does not do any good to distort history, even if you believe you are distorting it in a good way. Cruelty was not on one side but on all."

Sir Ridley's spokesman said that the film portrays the Arabs in a positive light. "It's trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history."

The production team is using Loarre Castle in northern Spain and have built a replica of Jerusalem in Ouarzazate, in the Moroccan desert. Sir Ridley, 65, who was knighted in July last year, grew up in South Shields and rose to fame as director of Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver.

He followed with classics such as Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, which won him an Oscar nomination in 1992, and in 2002 Black Hawk Down, told the story of the US military's disastrous raid on Mogadishu. In 2001 his film Gladiator won five Oscars, but Sir Ridley lost out to Steven Soderbergh for Best Director.

Even Scott admits his movie is bullshit and is = artificially painting the muslims in a positive light. He is integrating bias, bigotry, and racism into his movie. I don't give a damn what his goal is. It's wrong. This was the equivalent of a nazi proproganda film.
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