Political Content in this week’s new movies plus some old dvds and newly released blu-rays… new movies: Date Night, Letters To God… old dvds: Babel, The Strangers, The Brothers Bloom, The Mist, The Ninth Gate, Kingdom of Heaven… new blu-rays: The Relic, Jade
1. Date Night [Rated PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference.]
summary from imdb.com:
In New York City, a case of mistaken identity turns a bored married couple’s attempt at a glamorous and romantic evening into something more thrilling and dangerous.
starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Common, William Fichtner, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Olivia Munn, Will i Am, Taraji P. Henson
Poli-Bits: there’s no leftist sucker punch… just some corrupt cops, a harmless housing crisis reference where a broker mentions how much lower a house price is now… and several references to this book:
The movie opens with a telling scene of Claire attending a book group, at which her suburban cohorts find common ground with the heroine of the quintessential Oprah-certified novel – the memoir of an Afghan girl forced to have her first period under Taliban rule. (source)
Consider Phil and Claire’s book club: Naturally, it’s entirely women, and Phil feels out of place. When one member dismisses his reaction to the book, saying, “You have no idea what it’s like to be a teenage girl having your first period under Taliban rule,” you know that’s a joke someone worked on. That’s not a caricature spitting, “You men are so insensitive!” because it’s the shortest possible shorthand for Phil’s discomfort; that’s a constructed joke that gets an earned laugh. (source)
from John Boot:
Whenever Hollywood ventures into suburbia, you may have a reasonable expectation that moviemakers will have considerably less sympathy for what they find than they typically do for, say, the average Shiite insurgent or Communist dictator. So Date Night, which is far from a great comedy, but does have enough laughs to make it worth watching on home video or pay TV, does take a surprising stance: That ordinary suburban upper-middle-class family types are nice, normal people who just need a little more sleep and maybe some time to themselves. (At least in the Northeast. Maybe someday soon Hollywood will discover that southerners are not necessarily scary rednecks, or that veterans aren’t all freaked-out malcontents.)
2. Letters to God [Rated PG for thematic material.]
summary from imdb.com:
Inspired by a true story. A young boy fighting cancer writes letters to God, touching lives in his neighborhood and community and inspiring hope among everyone he comes in contact. An unsuspecting substitute postman, with a troubled life of his own, becomes entangled in the boy’s journey and his family by reading the letters. They inspire him to seek a better life for himself and his own son he’s lost through his alcohol addiction.
starring: Robyn Lively, Ralph Waite
John P. Hanlon:
The movie, which was inspired by a true story, has a strong message and a clear goal. This is an unabashedly Christian film about people finding faith and hope in Christ. Tyler inspires many members of his family and his community to develop stronger relationships with God, even as those members watch Tyler deal with cancer.
man to a bartender wanting to get waited on: what do I have to do? fill out a form?
bartender: spoken like a true government worker…
3. Babel (2006) [Rated R for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.]
summary from imdb.com:
Tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert, touching off an interlocking story involving four different families.
starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Rinko Kikuchi, Elle Fanning, Gael Garcia Bernal, Nathan Gamble, Clifton Collins Jr, Michael Pena
But most striking is the film’s critique of American privilege, the notion of two rich white Californians coming out on top at the expense of the rest of the world’s people.
Traveling in a bus filled with tourists, Susan is hit by a stray bullet. Dangerously close to death and four hours away from a hospital, the bus driver goes to the nearest village, where a villager provides help. The other tourists, selfish Westerners, want to leave Richard and Susan behind and continue their road trip. It is a cruel indictment of how rich people on vacation behave while the poor villagers show wordless compassion.
Alas, they’re also unlike anything else in Babel, which stacks contrivance upon contrivance as it trip-wires and time-shifts a series of climactic calamities to unfold almost in unison—an apparent bid to out-intolerate Intolerance. The director and screenwriter mean to show the butterfly effects of American arrogance and post–9-11 solipsism throughout the world. Thus wealthy Californians Pitt and Blanchett turn their life-or-death dilemma into an international cause célébre, other tourists or citizens be damned, while the sweet blond children end up in a border-patrol wasteland. The Americans’ linguistic helplessness becomes a dully literal metaphor for I-stand-alone isolationism.
Meanwhile, anti-terrorist hysteria places the Moroccan lads and their guiltless family in crosshairs. Only the lives of Americans matter, the movie wails: The filmmakers expect you to feel guilty when the white kids survive.
The movie is a monument to unintended consequences. A hunting rifle left by a Japanese tourist in Morocco wreaks havoc around the world. As Babel’s multi-part, densely edited “simultaneous” narrative recalls D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, so González Iñárritu’s enthusiastically received third feature conjures many of the festival’s big themes, including terrorism, illegal immigration, and gringos in the desert. There’s even a critique of American entitlement;
Meanwhile, Abdullah’s family becomes the object of a manhunt by the ruthless Moroccan police, and the U.S. government makes angry noises about terrorism.
from Kurt Loder:
Arriving there, Richard calls home to San Diego, where the family’s longtime Mexican nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza), is tending the couple’s two young children. Amelia had been planning to take a day off to attend her son’s wedding in Mexico. But Richard tells her to cancel that plan, since he and Susan will be delayed in returning home, and there’s no one else to stay with his son and daughter. Unwilling to miss the wedding, Amelia decides to take the kids with her, and soon they are on their way across the border. […]
Back in San Diego, the sweet-natured Amelia can’t understand why there should be so much difficulty attached to taking two American children on a short trip that happens to cross a border. (Some INS agents are prepared to wreck her life in the interest of raising her immigration-consciousness.)
The husband Richard, runs around the village shouting and demanding immediate medical aid, which made it impossible to sympathize with him or his wounded wife. I felt more sympathy for the Moroccan people having to tolerate such a disrespectful group of tourists. The two Moroccan children and their family get treated unjustly by the local police in order to cater to the media attention generated by the shooting incident and the resentment of the American tourist.
The story involving the Mexican nanny is set up to show the vast cultural difference between Americans and Mexicans. The story is a montage of images of a ‘typical’ Mexican wedding, (triggerhappy drunken screaming, headless chickens, and a lot of dirt!) as golden haired ‘gringo’ children watch with confusion, fear and awe. The rest of the events that involve (one would never guess!) the US border and immigration officers are completely implausible, set up to indulge the movie’s dramatic climax and political opinions.
Ińárritu says he wanted his film to tackle the problem of one person’s inability to understand another (hence the title). He also wanted to tackle false stereotypes. However, with Babel he falls into a trap, as he resorts to stereotypes and Hollywood clichés himself. Western tourists in Morocco are self-important and simultaneously foolish and frightened. Mexicans are deeply contemptuous of the American gringos yet dream of California-style affluence. Moroccan boys are oppressed by taboos that dominate private life in their part of the world. And Japanese schoolgirls look as if they jumped straight out of a Manga comic book for adults. Or for pedophiles.
Unlike previous Ińárritu films, right from the start viewers get a sense that everything will end well, at least as far as the characters from the Western world are concerned. American and Japanese children cannot be seriously harmed, whereas Moroccans can suffer and die, even if they are innocent. The worst that can happen to Western tourists and inhabitants of luxury skyscrapers in Tokyo is breaking down in tears, while a Mexican housekeeper will have her life ruined.
Is this Mexico?
Yes, this is Mexico…
My mom told me that Mexico is really dangerous…
yeah… it’s full of Mexicans
tv or radio report:
Today, near Tazarine, there was an incident… an American was shot… Authorities say it could have been a robbery… but the American government was quick to suggest a terrorist link… Minister Hassan Hazal has said that terrorist cells have been eradicated in our country… and one act of vulgar banditry followed by superficial evaluations the U.S. places on it cannot ruin our image or the economy
If things don’t work here, I’ll meet you with the gringos…
M#####F###er, f####ing gringo a#####es… here they come…
4. The Strangers (2008) [Rated R for violence/terror and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.
starring: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Gemma Ward
5. The Relic (1997) [Rated R for monster violence and gore, and for language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A researcher at Chicago’s Natural History Museum returns from South America with some crates containing his findings. When the crates arrive at the museum without the owner there appears to be very little inside. However, police discover gruesome murders on the cargo ship that brought the crates to the US and then another murder in the museum itself. Investigating the murders is Lt. Vincent D’Agosta who enlists the help of Dr. Margo Green at the museum – she has taken an interest in the contents of her colleague’s crates. Unknown to both there is a large creature roaming the museum which is gearing itself up for a benefit reception which the city’s mayor is to attend
starring: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, Clayton Rohner, James Whitmore
6. The Brothers Bloom (2008) [Rated PG-13 for violence, some sensuality and brief strong language.]
summary from imdb.com:
The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they’ve decided to take on one last job – showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.
starring: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi, Robbie Coltrane, Maximilian Schell, Ricky Jay, Nora Zehetner
they were The They… all well-loved, rooted, happy as you please… always there in every town… Playground bourgeoisies…
I’m not thrilled they set this in Mexico… there could be legitimate reasons, but… uhh… Mexico is… and I don’t like to simplistically villify an entire country, but… Mexico is a horrible place…
7. Jade (1995) [Rated R for grisly afterviews of murder victims, violence, language and strong scenes of aberrant sexuality.]
summary from imdb.com:
When the assistant district attorney of San Francisco investigates the mysterious death of an important millionaire he discovers that the first suspect in this case is a friend of his who is married to an important lawyer. Now it is difficult for him to distinguish between what is reality and what should be reality.
starring: David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, Chazz Palminteri, Angie Everhart, Michael Biehn, Richard Crenna, Kevin Tighe
from a commenter at imdb.com:
My only complaint is the normal Liberal in-your-face bias that Hollywood always seems to show. They just can’t help giving you their pro-Democrat, anti- Catholic, anti-authority bias. Early scenes provide some cheap shots on Nixon and Reagan and later we see the film’s two male starts talking irreverently in church. The governor is a sleaze in the story and the cops are corrupt. I’ve just come to except these modern-day film clichés and not let it interfere with my enjoyment of the film.
[photos are shown of the corrupt California Governor with Reagan, Nixon, and Thatcher]
[photo of girl holding protest sign saying “Students for Animal Rights”]
1: We made the prints on the hatchet handle…
1: No, but we got lucky… They came off of an arrest in Palo Alto in 1980… Some kind of animal rights protest in Stanford… no charges ever filed…
Republican Governor of California: if you drag me into this business, David… if my name even shows up on the periphery of this, David… you better get the f### out of the state of California because you have as much of a future here as Jerry Brown
Republican Governor of California: It’s a tragedy for justice when law enforcement people go bad…
David: they were cleaning up your s###…
Governor: they were just two loyal supporters… two supporters who got carried away… they just wanted to see if Mrs. Gavin had any more pictures of the Governor… they acted purely on their own out of misguided loyalty…
David: Kyle Medford was shaking people down… he had pictures of you and he was killed for it… Patrice was in those pictures… she was next, and then Henderson… who could ID everybody… that left Trina Gavin…
some guy: why are you wasting the Governor’s time?
David: anything happens to Trina Gavin, I have a roll of film with you and a dead hooker…
Governor: and what if something happens to you?
8. The Ninth Gate (1999) [Rated R for some violence and sexuality.]
summary from imdb.com:
A rare book dealer, while seeking out the last two copies of a demon text, gets drawn into a conspiracy with supernatural overtones.
director: Roman Polanski
starring: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner
9. The Mist (2007) [Rated R for violence, terror and gore, and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A freak storm unleashes a species of blood-thirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole-up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.
starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Chris Owen, Alexa Davalos, Nathan Gamble
from Kyle Smith:
“The Mist,” a pretentious left-wing monster movie with about 15 minutes of alarming creatures and a whole lot of bickering, is a pre-9/11 story which Stephen King wrote eons ago. It operates in the post-9/11 era about as well as a Studebaker at the Daytona 500. […]
King’s well-established loathing for Christian evangelists (if you ever suspect you’re in a Stephen King story and you’re locked in a room with a Bible-loving biddy and, say, a zombie hellhound, take your chances with the latter) is dully personified by Marcia Gay Harden. As the monsters begin to reach into the store like it’s a bowl of Doritos and commence snack time on her fellow villagers, she starts babbling about God’s vengeance, abortion, stem-cell research and even human sacrifice.
This is the sixth time I’ve endured Harden in the past year – who says I’ve got the best job in the world? – so I think I speak with authority when I say her charisma make Dennis Kucinich look like John F. Kennedy.
Yet, with cheery remarks like “Don’t go out there. It’s death out there. It’s the end of days!” she inspires a pro-monster cult to rise around her. A civil war threatens to break out somewhere between the charcoal briquettes and the Ovaltine.
King’s man-turns-against-man routine is not only dramatically inert – we aren’t really in the mood to listen to bickering when there are mutant species afoot – but conceptually phony. After 9/11, were people kinder than usual, or did we load up on pitchforks and prophecies and burn one another’s barns?
Since issues of race and class are raised only to be dropped, the characters are as thin as the one-ply toilet tissue in the store-brand aisle.
What is supposed to be a quietly moving scene between a soldier and a checkout girl instead reminded me of the gag in “Airplane!” about the sweet virgin who decides to booty-call every guy on the plane because it’s about to crash.
The person who eventually takes over as leader of the group, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), starts off on a positive note preaching that this may be a judgment from God and anyone who doesn’t know God needs to repent and ask Him for forgiveness. But, in the next breath she is cursing and threatening violence. Also, the other people mock her claims of hearing from God. In fact, almost everyone considers her a “loon.” Then, as she convinces others to join her side, she is depicted as a cult leader, with one person stating “let’s get out of here before someone starts drinking the Kool-Aid” (a reference to cult leader Jim Jones, a radical socialist, and the mass suicide he led in the 1970s). Mrs. Carmody quickly turns from repentance and quoting the Bible, to preaching that God wants blood sacrifice, and they need to offer the unbelievers to the creatures. So her character becomes blasphemous, evil, manipulative, and murderous – while all the time still claiming to be speaking “God’s will.”
There are also some Romantic elements in the movie, represented by such lines as “people are basically good” and the need for “faith in humanity.” The Humanist examples are lines such as “people become like animals and just want to kill each other,” along with some spurious reasons offered about why “people invented politics and religion” to deal with their problems.
from John Nolte:
The Frank Darabont who sticks in our mind is the one who turned a slightly above-average short story by Stephen King into the majestic Shawshank Redemption. The Darabont on display in The Mist (an adaptation of another King short story) is the one who made The Majestic into a cloying, left-wing polemic […]
The Mist is a film where 11-minutes in a sweet old lady makes a speech scolding America for spending money on corporate handouts and bombs instead of education; a film where 15-minutes in the first reaction a Christian woman has at the sight of fog is to proclaim, “It’s the end of days!” as opposed to, “Could be a cold front;” a film where three uniformed Army troopers are locked in a grocery store under attack but leave it to the pudgy, nebbish bag boy to be the hero; a film that wants to be about man’s inhumanity to man but which results in yet another example of Hollywood’s contempt for its audience. […]
This leaves the slightly less-stupid to take another set of sides. This time it’s between those who believe in Hollywood’s version of a Christian and those who can’t figure out that it might be the lights attracting all those giant bugs slamming up against the store windows.
The Christian woman is Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), portrayed by Stephen King and subsequently Darabont not unlike terrorists often portray Jews in the Middle East: as dangerous, less than human hypocrites. It’s not enough Carmody is preachy and judgemental, or that she blames the end-times on abortion and stem-cell research. No, she calls for the blood sacrifice of Drayton’s child because this is a film cynically designed to appeal directly to religious bigots — which may explain why such a snoozer has a 66% fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.
but with funds being cut every year… you’d think educating children would be more of a priority in this country, but you’d be wrong… Government’s got better things to spend our money on… like corporate handouts and building bombs…
as a species, we’re fundamentally insane… put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another…
shut up, you miserable buzzard […] stoning people who p### you off is perfectly okay… they do it in the Bible, don’t they?
woman never shuts up… like those speeches Castro used to make
Mrs. Carmody: we are being punished… for what? for going against the will of God! for going against His forbidden rules of old! walking on the moon! or, or splitting His atoms! or, or, or stemcells and abortions… and destroying the secrets of life that only God above has any right to! […]
other people: Kill him! String him up! Stab him!
Mrs. Carmody: Feed him to the beast! Let the abominations smell his blood!
Mrs. Carmody: there is one God… the God of the Israelites… and He is a stern and vengeful God… and we have been mocking Him for far too long… and now He demands retribution in blood… it is time to declare yourselves… take sides… the saved and the damned… read the Good Book… it calls for expiation… Blood!
some guy: hey, crazy lady, I believe in God, too… i just don’t think He’s the bloodthirsty a###### you make Him out to be…
Mrs. Carmody: well, you take that up with the devil when you run into him…
want another reason to get the hell out of here? I’ll give you the best one… Her… Mrs. Carmody… our very own Jim Jones… I’d like to leave before people start drinking the kool-aid…
With the discovery that two soldiers from the Arrowhead Project have committed suicide during the expedition’s absence, the remaining soldier, Private Wayne Jessup (Samuel Witwer), reveals that the project – rumored to be an attempt to look into other dimensions – was the likely origin of the mist. At Carmody’s command, her followers use Jessup as a human sacrifice and throw him out into the mist where he is killed by an enormous, mantis-like creature. While preparing to leave the following morning, David and his group are intercepted by Mrs. Carmody, who at first demands that Billy is to be sacrificed, then David’s whole group. Ollie quickly shoots and kills her, horrifying her followers and forcing them to reluctantly allow David’s group to leave.
10. Kingdom of Heaven (2005) [Rated R for strong violence and epic warfare.]
summary from imdb.com:
Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century, and there he finds himself as the defender of the city and its people.
starring: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Edward Norton, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Jeremy Irons, Alexander Siddig, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McKidd, Michael Sheen, Ulrich Thomsen
from Christian Toto:
Less nuanced is the filmmakers’ cringe-worthy political correctness. The Muslim warriors are uniformly honorable and strong, while the Christians embody a more credible range of human behavior — from relative benevolence to unbridled aggression. When a dutiful Jeremy Irons tells Balian that instead of fighting for God, the Christians are fighting for wealth and power, you can practically hear liberal-minded cast and crew applauding themselves just off set.
from Kurt Loder:
A warrior monk, portrayed by David Thewlis, tells Balian that he no longer feels any need for religion — it is a breeding ground of fanatics. “Right action” is God’s only concern, he says, not blustering ideology. And Jeremy Irons’ Tiberias ruefully admits that, while he once believed in the Crusades — in “liberating” the Holy Land from Muslim “infidels” — he now realizes that the endless battles have been mainly for wealth and land for the ransacking conquerors. It is impossible to hear these reflections and not be put in mind of the current situation in the Middle East.
from James Bowman:
And what, you may ask, is the moral of the story? Well, it’s not as if you couldn’t guess. Turns out that the Crusades were not the struggle between Christians and Muslims that you might have thought they were but between both Muslim and Christian religious fanatics on the one hand and modern tolerant liberals like the film-makers — oh and, by the way, everyone else in Hollywood — on the other. Who knew?
The most hilariously idiotic of the film’s many historically stupid moments comes at the climax of the battle for Jerusalem in 1187 when Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), the commander of the city’s Christian defenders, has a parley with the leader of its Muslim besiegers, Saladin, here invariably given his more authentic moniker, Salah al-Din (Ghassan Massoud). Nice that they insist on accuracy in something. Balian tells his adversary that he will surrender the city if the Muslim army will give its Christian inhabitants a safe-conduct to the sea, where they may take ship to return to Europe. The terrible alternative, Balian tells him, is that he will give the order for all the religious sites in the city to be destroyed: “Your holy places, ours — everything that drives men mad.” It’s hard to imagine a more perfect example of Hollywood’s view of religion — or of a thought that would have been more unthinkable to the person supposedly uttering it.
Such words would have been sheer gibberish — evidence of madness themselves — in an age in which “religion” was inseparable from the culture. Another character says “I put no stock in religion” and generally speaking we are to understand that neither does anyone else who is in the least sympathetic here. The only true religious believers, at least on the Christian side, are thugs and murderers. But at the time of the Crusades “religion” wasn’t the optional Sunday-morning pastime it has since become. It was a matter of identity. For someone to say “I put no stock in religion” would have been as nonsensical as saying “I put no stock in being my father’s son.” People’s religion wasn’t just what they believed, it was what they were. In other words, like so many movie-makers before them, Scott and Monahan have looked into the past and seen nothing but their own silly faces looking back at them.
This is a True Story – Only the Facts Have Been Changed
Kingdom of Heaven also distorts history beyond all recognition. The “hundred-year truce” between the Christian and Muslim armies is a figment of their imagination. The warfare throughout the 12 th Century was incessant.
The depiction of the Knight’s Templar as a band of religious fanatics trying to shatter the truce and provoke war with the Muslims by attacking caravans, is a total fabrication. No Knight’s Templar ever attacked any caravans. Attacking caravans is what the founder of Islam, Muhammad, engaged in regularly. As did his handpicked apostles, the Caliphas. The Knights Templar were formed primarily to protect travellers from the attacks of the Muslim army. In fact it was the slaughter of Christian pilgrims, by Muslim armies, in violation of earlier agreements of safe passage, that precipitated the crusades in the first place. […]
According to Kingdom of Heaven, the real hero in the story is the famous Muslim general, Saladin (1138 – 1193). Although an exceptionally gifted military strategist and unusually chivalrous, the film has uncritically accepted, and embellished, the legends about Saladin beyond what the historical record would support. A Muslim Kurd, from Northern Iraq, Saladin was raised in a privileged family, and was very ambitious. At age 14 he joined his uncle’s military staff, and at 31 followed him to Egypt where his uncle was Grand Vizier. When his uncle died two months later, Saladin seized power, defeated competing Muslim leaders and started a dynasty which established Egypt as the major Muslim power in the Middle East.
Far from having war forced upon him, Saladin initiated the conflict by declaring a Jihad against the Christians. He swept throughout Palestine capturing more than 50 crusader castles in two years. At the battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187 Saladin’s army defeated the Christians on the shores of Lake Tiberius (the Sea of Galilee) – although in the film this battle is depicted as in waterless desert! Far from being the magnanimous victor depicted in modern legends and this film, Saladin was a ruthless general who had thousands of Christian prisoners beheaded in cold blood – including after the battle of Hattin.
In the film, Saladin is portrayed as being most gracious in allowing the defenders of Jerusalem safe passage. In fact after the negotiated surrender of Jerusalem, which the Patriarch of Jerusalem initiated, Saladin demanded that every man, women and child in Jerusalem pay a ransom for his or her freedom or face the grim prospect of Islamic slavery. In order to save the lives and liberty of the poor people who could not afford the heavy ransom demanded by Saladin, Balian paid out of his own resources the ransom required for those who could not afford it.
The theology in Kingdom of Heaven is also all wrong. The film depicts some monk standing by the roadside repeating: “To kill an infidel is not murder it is the path to heaven!” As any student of the Bible would be able to tell you, neither the concept nor those words appear anywhere in the Christian Bible. However, as any student of the Quran should be able to inform you, that is exactly what the Islamic doctrine of Jihad teaches.
At one point early in the film as Muslims bow in prayer towards Mecca, Balian comments: “You allow them to pray?” A knight sneers and answers: “As long as they pay their taxes!” In fact the crusaders never required any extra taxes of Muslims in order to allow them to pray. That is the Islamic doctrine and practice of Jizya. To this day Muslim governments require Jizya – tribute taxes – of dhimmi’s (Jews and Christians under their Islamic rule).
Before the crusaders march out to the disastrous battle of Hattin, the film has one knight declaring: “The army of Jesus Christ cannot be beaten.” However, there is no such doctrine in the Bible, or in Christian theology. It is, in fact, Islamic dogma that no Muslim army can never be defeated by an infidel army. This Muhammad asserted on the authority of Allah himself. […]
The ridiculous speech with its feel good “why can’t we all just get along” drivel dished up by Orlando Bloom’s Balian on the walls of Jerusalem (while Saladin’s armies politely delay their attack until he has finished) may sound believable to some 21 st Century Humanist, but these were not the convictions or sentiments of any 12 th Century crusader. As for the pathetic egalitarian gesture of knighting everybody – without any training, testing or code of conduct – is so unhistorical, and so out of touch with reality, as to make one wonder what drugs the scriptwriter was on at the time. […]
Crusade Against Christianity
The ridiculous and inane comments attributed to the bishop in the film are also not only highly unlikely, but jarringly anachronistic. Producer Ridley Scott, and scriptwriter William Monahan, obviously hate Christianity. But, just in case any viewers lack the discernment to detect the unveiled anti-Christian hostility and prejudice, which permeates the entire movie, Ridley Scott, has gone on record as stating: “Balian is an agnostic, just like me.” Of course there was no such thing as agnosticism in the 12 th Century, especially not amongst crusaders. The word “agnostic” was a 19 th Century invention.
Just in case anyone misunderstood the motivations behind his movie, Ridley Scott has been quoted as saying: “If we could just take God out of the equation, there would be no f… problem!” […]
Further evidence of the blind anti-Christian prejudice of many in Hollywood is seen in some of the reviews of Kingdom of Heaven: Frederick Brussat of Spirituality and Health comments: “We are pleased to see (the Muslims) come across in a more positive light in this well intentioned blockbuster about the crusades…all of the Christians in this story come across as arrogant and unlikable human beings…never darkening the door of a church. Their Muslim counterparts, on the other hand, are seen doing the ritual prayer; in one impressive scene this involves Saladin’s entire army.”
Varia Galley’s Filmiliar Cineaste is quite positive about the film and describes it as “A grand success and a moving depiction of the crusades as a bloodbath in the name of piety…Scott…makes the point that religious zelotry…has historically resulted in mass slaughter.”
That is, of course, a commonly held article of faith of Secular Humanists, but the fact is that far more people have died in the name of Atheism and Secular Humanism (over 180 million citizens were murdered by their own Secular Humanist / Atheist / Communist governments just in the 20 th Century alone) than by all other organised religions combined.
A Political Agenda
It is also interesting to note the political lessons that some reviewers seem to derive from the film. William Arnold in the Seattle Post Intelligencer comments that the Kingdom of Heaven “is an again compelling argument for the growing contention that the city (Jerusalem) should be internationalised and administered for all faiths by the United Nations”! Considering that the United Nations could not even administer Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, or Bosnia without widespread massacres taking place under their “protection” it is not very clear why the United Nations should be trusted with anything at all. […]
“Kingdom of Heaven is a whole lot of nothing about O, you know, that thing that happened in olden times when a bunch of power hungry white men went a bit god-crazy and invaded the Middle East on a moral superiority kick. The gold wasn’t bad either ” (Walter Chaw – filmfreakcentral.net). This typical, if crude, stereotyping of the crusades is quite enlightening. It illustrates the pervasive ignorance of history that enables revisionist film makers like Scott to get away with such blatant distortions of reality.
The Facts of History
The fact is that the crusades of the Middle Ages were a reaction to centuries of Islamic Jihad. In the first century of Islam alone Muslim invaders conquered the whole of the previously Christian North Africa destroying over 3200 churches – in just 100 years. In the first three centuries of Islam, Muslim forces killed Christians, kidnapped their children to raise them as Muslims, or compelled people at the point of the sword to convert to Islam. Up to 50% of all the Christians in the world were wiped out during those first three centuries of Islam. The Saracens (as the Muslim invaders were called) desecrated Christian places of worship and were severely persecuting Christians. Pilgrims were then prevented from visiting those places where our Lord was born, was crucified and raised from the dead. It was only after four centuries of Islamic Jihad that the crusades were launched as a belated reaction to the blatant Islamic Jihad.
Logistics and Economics
As the Christian History Institute has pointed out, the characterising of crusaders as only in it for the plunder and the loot betrays an ignorance of both geography and history. The vast majority of the crusaders were impoverished and financially ruined by the crusades. Crusaders, through great sacrifice and personal expense, left their homes and families to travel 3000km across treacherous and inhospitable terrain – and the shortest crusade lasted 4 years. Considering that only 10% of the crusaders had horses, and 90% were foot soldiers, the sheer fact of logistics is that the crusaders could not possibly have carried back enough loot to have made up for the loss of earnings and high expenses involved with these long crusades. Many crusaders lost their homes and farms to finance their involvement in the crusades.
There’s More to Life than Money
Perhaps self-seeking materialistic agnostics in the 21 st Century cannot understand that some people could be motivated by something other than personal financial enrichment, but the fact is that many people make sacrifices for their religious convictions, and in order to help others. In the case of the crusaders, the historical record makes clear that amongst the motivations that led tens of thousands of volunteers to reclaim the Holy Land was a sense of Christian duty to help their fellow Christians in the East whose lands have been invaded and churches desecrated by Muslim armies, and a desire to secure access to the Holy Lands for pilgrims. There was also a desire to fight for the honour of their Lord Jesus Christ, Whose churches had been destroyed and Whose Deity had been denied by the Mohammadan aggressors. In other words, to the crusaders this was a defensive war to reclaim Christian lands from Muslim invaders.
We may not share their convictions, or agree with their methods, but we ought to evaluate them in the light of the realities of the 11 th and 12 th centuries, and not anachronistically project our standards and politics back upon them.
The Missing Jihad
Scriptwriter William Monahan, and Director Ridley Scott, obviously don’t understand the motivations behind the crusaders, and apparently they do not understand the Islamic doctrine of Jihad either – which the film makes no reference to. Considering that Jihad was the central threat that had lead to the reaction of the crusades, this omission is inexplicable. Kingdom of Heaven preoccupies itself with fictionalising crusader atrocities, but it ignores the pattern of the preceeding five centuries of genocide and aggression by Islamic armies. For those wanting the politically incorrect rest of the story which Kingdom of Heaven does not even hint of, you would want to read Slavery, Terrorism & Islam – The Historical Roots & Contemporary Threat.
Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven is politically correct, anti-Christian, pro-Muslim propaganda. It makes poor entertainment and is a worthless distortion of reality.