From the New Duranty Times, with thanks to Jerry Gordon:
SIR RIDLEY SCOTT’S new blockbuster, “Kingdom of Heaven,” could hardly be more topical. It shows Muslims resisting Christian invaders, battles raging in wind-whipped deserts, ancient cities under siege and civilians cowering. It even shows prisoners decapitated for their beliefs.
O.K., so all this screen mayhem is meant to be happening more than eight centuries ago, but doesn’t it sound like recent news from Iraq?
Well, the movie is not meant to show that Christians and Muslims have been at one another’s throats for centuries. Rather, by dwelling on the extended, turbulent holy war known as the Crusades, Sir Ridley said he hoped to demonstrate that Christians, Muslims and Jews could live together in harmony – if only fanaticism were kept at bay.
To that end, for all the furious battle scenes in “Kingdom of Heaven,” which opens nationwide on May 6, Mr. Scott and his screenwriter, William Monahan, have tried to be balanced. Muslims are portrayed as bent on coexistence until Christian extremists ruin everything. And even when the Christians are defeated, the Muslims give them safe conduct to return to Europe.
If this is accurate about the film, I can’t imagine why The Scholar of the House is so upset about this movie. But as an accurate portrayal of history, this is laughable — as I will show in my forthcoming book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades (Regnery).
“It’s actually about doing the right thing,” said Sir Ridley, 67, a Briton whose screen combat experience also includes directing “1492: Conquest of Paradise,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Gladiator.” “I know that sounds incredibly simplistic. It’s about temptation and avoiding temptation. It’s about ethics. It’s about going to war over passion and idealism. Idealism is great if it’s balanced and humanitarian.”
If so, the Crusaders got a few things wrong. From 638, when Muslims first occupied Jerusalem, both Christians and Jews were permitted to visit their holy sites. Then, in 1095, responding to an appeal from the Byzantine Christian Church in Constantinople, Pope Urban II organized the First Crusade to liberate Jerusalem. Four years later, those crusaders seized the city, massacring almost all its inhabitants in a bloodbath invoked to this day.
Seven more crusades were waged, bringing European monarchs, lords, knights and their armies of devout followers to fight – and settle – in an area stretching between what is today Syria and Egypt. The Muslims responded with their own sporadic jihads until finally, by 1291, the Christians had been driven out.
It’s hard not to wonder, is this really a good time to show warring Christians and Muslims as entertainment?
No mention here, of course, of 450 years of Muslim invasions and conquests of Christian lands that preceded the Crusades — or of sacks of cities by Muslims that equalled the brutality of the Crusaders’ sack of Jerusalem. One atrocity does not justify another, but what the Crusaders did in Jerusalem was common practice for armies in those days.