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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|[Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|04/27/05 at 23:39:53|
This movie looks interesting. Apparently originally there was so much controversy over it b/c it is going to depict the Crusades. But many people say it shows the 'other side' as well. Some ppl from CAIR - LA also screened it and said it was 'fair'... so I guess we'll see.
If anyone sees it let us know how it was inshaAllah...
|04/28/05 at 20:52:13|
Saladin and Sir Ridley: Hollywood does holy war
Award-winning director of "Gladiator" brings the Crusades and an Arab hero to the screen in "Kingdom of Heaven," but does he get it right?
By Ramsay Short
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
LONDON: "It is better to live in peace together than to perpetuate war. It sounds simple but we don't seem to be able to manage it today," Ridley Scott, who was knighted for his services to the British film industry in 2003, explains during an interview after a partial screening of his latest film in the VUE multiplex cinema in London's Leicester Square.
"That's what "Kingdom Of Heaven" is about, the journey of a boy becoming a man without ever losing his integrity."
On the screen behind Scott, a vast column of Christian soldiers is on the march, the Knights Templar, about to do battle with the great Muslim army of Saladin in the Holy Land of the late 12th century.
It is a magnificent sight but inevitably one which is likely to draw much comment in the days and weeks running up to the movie's release in May - and much comment after - not least because of the parallels with events in the Middle East today.
Then Frankish King of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, did battle with Saracen leader Saladin, who led Muslim armies from Damascus. Today the Syrian capital is once again finding itself under fire from the West as well as from people in the region itself - not least from many Christian descendants of the Crusaders themselves in Lebanon and the born-again Christian, U.S. President George W. Bush.
"History always resonates with where we are today," says Scott, "but none of this film was predetermined [to coincide with contemporary events]."
Still, movies do not exist in isolation and any film whose backdrop is the Crusades - a brutal period of time in the Middle East region where European Christians fought the "heathen infidel occupying the land of Christ's birth" - is bound to be problematic.
Scott, though, is confident. "We were very careful to think it through,"he says, while the film's producers say they hope the film's central message of peace before war, love before hate, will resonate today.
It would be unfair to bill "Kingdom of Heaven" as a battle between Islam and Christianity or East and West. It is more an attempt to depict a fictional heroic tale at a time when, prior to the battle of Hattin in 1187 won by Saladin before he took Jerusalem, (and shown in the movie), the Muslims and Christians coexisted in peace under the rule of two remarkable leaders, both of whom held an abiding respect for each other.
"Look, this film is about living by an unshakeable code of ethics and honor. And it also demonstrates that true goodness is about listening to your head and heart and deciding to do the right thing every day," Scott argues.
The film's story follows the trials and tribulations of Balian of Ibelin (played by in-vogue heartthrob Orlando Bloom), a common man of extraordinary conscience who rises to knighthood and embarks on a life-changing journey to find peace and a better world. That better world is the Holy Land.
"It follows Balian's spiritual search and he achieves greatness through courage, fairness and selfless action," Scott says.
Which sounds not unlike his last epic "Gladiator," in which Russell Crowe played a Roman general who loses everything, only to regain his honor and save Rome for the people.
"'Kingdom of Heaven's' message is pure: that it is better to discard the world - money, position, power - than to endanger one's own integrity. Balian lives by these ideals and is willing to die for them," Scott continues.
"My screenwriter Bill Monahan spent a lot of time consulting with Muslim historians and scholars of the time, not least because accuracy is so important in a historical film.
"Obviously, then, we were concerned with the character of Saladin and getting it right because he is such an important figure in Muslim culture."
Whereas in the past the part of Saladin might have been played by a heavily made up Laurence Olivier for example, Scott made the wise choice of casting Arab actors in the primary Muslim roles, all of whom are key figures in the film.
Syrian actor and a well-known star in the Middle East Ghassan Massoud takes on Saladin, while his closest adviser is played by Egyptian actor Khaled al-Nabaoui. Nabaoui has worked in numerous films directed by his famous compatriot Youssef Chahine.
"Casting Saladin was one of the hardest things to do," Scott says. "Ghassan was cast out of Damascus, and Khaled out of Egypt. I had to watch hundreds of shows from Syria and Egypt - many of which incidentally were very good and sophisticated."
Scott portrays Saladin as a character of great integrity - he is not a bad guy. In fact the "bad guys" of the film are (we don't see much of them in the clips Scott shows), "the extremists of both sides, Christian and Muslim," those who hate each other and want war at any cost.
These are the two Crusader knights Reynald de Chatillon and Guy de Lusignan who provoke Saladin into battle by raiding Muslim caravans, and Saladin's adviser who counsels destruction of the Christians and the recapture of Jerusalem - which comes toward the end of the film when Saladin lays siege to the city.
Despite Scott's protestations that Muslims and Islam are portrayed in a positive manner, there are some who disagree.
Khaled Abu al-Fadl, a Kuwaiti-born professor of Islamic law and history at the University of California in Los Angeles, who saw a shooting script of "Kingdom Of Heaven" in 2004, told the April edition of Empire movie magazine: "The Western characters are fully formed human beings, reflecting the whole gamut of human feeling. On the Muslim side, everyone apart from Saladin is portrayed as a mindless machine, maniacally screaming 'Allahu akbar' (God is greater)."
Fadl continues that the key Islamic figure in the film, Saladin's religious adviser, preaches hate, extremism and massacres, not true Islamic law: "Saladin is torn between being a 'good Muslim' and being human. 'Muslim' meaning being evil."
The professor says that this is a typical portrayal of an enlightened Muslim who wants to do what's right but is forced to do evil by his religion - Islam.
But Scott argues that his Saladin, historically based, did find himself in a position where he had to placate extremists.
"He was a great man, a pragmatist and a strong and logical leader. Saladin practically invented chivalry," an admiring Scott says.
Fadl also argues that the film's story portrays the Crusaders as more tolerant than the Muslims - which historically was not the case.
"In reality, as far as the Crusaders were concerned, they were fighting infidels, pagans and people who were not human, and an Arab Christian was viewed to be as much a pagan as a Muslim."
Scott, however, is dismissive, arguing that the bad Crusaders portrayed in the film are worse than the Saracen enemy.
"You know I showed the final film to an important Muslim in New York and he loved it. He called it the best portrayal of Saladin he had seen," he says.
That man was Dr. Hamid Dabashi, Professor of Hagop Kevorkian Iranian Studies at New York's Columbia University.
Scott recounts that Dabashi said: "The world is bleeding and you've chosen a moment where the wound was cast [the Crusades], and you try to show the story of staunching the blood with peace and respect and love."
Of the "Kingdom Of Heaven" footage seen by The Daily Star in London, most was of the hero, Bloom, and the other stars - including Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Eva Green and Jeremy Irons. But there was one scene where Saladin is portrayed briefly on the battlefield, looking magnificent and regal as played by Massoud. Nothing indicated a particular bias. Yet until the film is released in full in May it will be impossible to determine the level of controversy.
At least it will bring the acting talents of Massoud and Naboui to a global audience and perhaps draw more attention to the beauty and chivalrous nature of Islam at a time when America's and Hollywood's view is far from positive.
For Scott, ultimately it's all about the stupidity of people and the evil bred by hatred.
"People don't change that much, do they? The clothes change and the weapons change. The weapons even shift into weapons of mass destruction - a machine gun is a weapon of mass destruction as opposed to a sword. But people stay the same. And that's the really disappointing thing."
|04/29/05 at 13:13:35|
|as salaamu alaykum,|
you have got to be kidding me :o just go see gladiator again! it has the same basic plot:
-- a man's "journey" of coming into his own and making peace with his past
-- a love story with a woman of noble birth
-- really elaborate fighting scenes
-- short philosophical quotes on life and purpose emitted by the hero with poignancy
but it's not set against the backdrop of the hero going to war against the evil Muslim enemy.
how anyone can enjoy profiting off of romanticizing one of the bloodiest and most barbaric times of history is beyond me. just read "The Crusades through Arab Eyes" and you'll see why no Muslim, in good conscience, should go see a movie that makes light of an army that slaughtered men, women and children indiscriminately until blood flowed through the streets like rivers, and commited an array of other hideous things.
even his lame politically correct statements in that last article "aren't we all the same human beings at heart?" stand in direct contradiction to the way his story was written; why then did he cast the main hero of the story (the "heart throb") as a soldier in the Christian army, and leave the Muslims to be extras wearing black turbans and marching through the desert as the nameless, faceless and human-less enemy?
ridley scott yet again reinforces the ever-present stereotype that Muslims are the "other", but in giving Saladin a somewhat humane portrayal escapes from criticism by the main stream.
|04/29/05 at 13:34:16|
|Kingdom of Heaven|
|04/30/05 at 05:40:44|
In reality, the choice to depict a more humane portrayal of Salah-ad-Diin is in no way a politically correct phenomenon. Indeed, it is consistent with European accounts of the Crusades dating back to the Crusades themselves. While the rest of the Muslim nation were categorized as evil, godless hordes, Salah-ad-Diin was in large part set apart from the categorization. In the Inferno, for example , Dante assigns him to Limbo, as high as a “pagan” can really go, even as he assigns the Prophet [saw] to the lowest circle of his vision of Hell. The tacit admiration surrounding Salah-ad-Diin in the West was so great that some would even assert that he was secretly baptized!
So the idea that the writers of this film have come up with a more fair view of the Crusades in this regard is simply erroneous. It is simply continuing the Orientalist view that has existed for a millennium. Anyone who studies Crusader history will realize this. Salah-ad-Diin has never been the problem in the Western story of the Crusades. Every other Muslim, though, has. Dr. Abou Fadl makes a good point in that Salah-ad-Diin is shown as a good human being, in spite of his being Muslim, i.e he is not a “good Muslim” who kills and pillages. He is the exception to the “rule”.
I wonder if the slaughter and carnage during the First Crusade, when Jerusalem was taken by the Crusaders, is even referred to in this film. The vast majority of the audience will have no knowledge of it and will come to this film with the ignorant romantic view of the Crusades. Judging by the trailer, its obvious that its aim is to appeal to the audience using the chivalric knight theme (btw wonder if any of those watching even know where chivalry really came from?). So basically another movie that romanticizes war. Nevertheless, putting that aside, it does seem that the story is less biased than the traditional way we hear it, but given the current historical and social context of the day, it remains to be seen what can come out of it, if anything.
It would be interesting to compare this film to the Egyptian one made 40 years ago. It was made by a Christian, and a lead character in the film, other than Salah-ad-Diin himself, is a Christian officer of Salah-ad-Diin fighting with the Muslims against the Crusaders. The Muslims talk about their “jihad” in the film, while the Crusaders talk about their “harb muqaddasah”, aka holy war. Interesting linguistic distinction made there, and a telling one at that, where the reality of jihad vs its common misconception today as holy war is crystal clear in light of the Crusades.
It will also be interesting to see how historically accurate they try to be; its obvious from the trailer that they have taken extensive dramatic license with the character of Balian. Balian did fight with the defenders of Jerusalem against Salah-ad-Diin, but the funny thing about is that he sought permission from Salah-ad-Diin to enter Jerusalem to escort his wife back to their home city (I think it was Tyre, not sure) and pledged to just go there for a day and leave. But then when he entered the city he was asked to help the defense of the city so he decided to stay, so he asked Salah-ad-Diin if he could break his pledge and allow him to stay to fight. Salah-ad-Diin allowed him to do so and made arrangements still for his wife to be escorted out of the city!
“Christians everywhere will remember the kindness we have bestowed upon them.”, he would later say upon entering Jerusalem…
Do they? Do we?
Subhanallah, still searching for the next Salah-ad-Diin…
|04/30/05 at 08:02:53|
|Kingdom of Heaven|
|05/09/05 at 19:56:10|
I gave in and watched this movie. Crusader history has been my favorite era to read about, and when a film is made about events which I have pictured in my head for years, it’s hard to pass up. Moreover, when it includes Salah-ad-Diin, may Allah have mercy on him, a man who I have studied and revered for so long, I could not resist. Sorry guys.
As a general film, in terms of its artistic merit, I would not rate the film highly, but I’m just going to comment about the movie as it relates to Salah-ad-Diin and the Muslim characters/elements within it.
First of all, the movie is most definitely historical fiction; there are so many historical inaccuracies in this film. Most are not worth getting into, though I was dismayed by them. Nevertheless, as Muslims evaluating this film, we analyze it on what emotional and informative value (or detriment) it imbues on the audience in regards to the perception of Islam and Muslims. The Egyptian movie about Salah-ad-Diin made forty years ago contains many historical inaccuracies, some of them egregious, but it conveys the true essence of the man Salah-ad-Diin was, as well as the general situation of the Muslims at that time.
Before getting into specifics, there are many modern-day Crusaders who have complained that this movie is anti-Christian, that it is the Muslim extremists' version of history. What this movie really is essentially is pro-religious pluralism, with the pluralism being under the guise of a non-religious, secular-based virtue, rather than virtue grounded and based upon the teachings of religion. Some could go further and simply say that it is anti-religion. The religions are not given credit to any of the virtues displayed by characters in the movie; rather, their good conduct appears to derive more from their innate good character and chivalry rather than a belief in God and religious practice. Alternatively, those characters in the movie who display religious fervor, almost exclusively, are the ones who are painted as problematic and destructive. That being said however, the portrayal of the war hawks amongst the Christians, namely Reynald de Chatillon, is definitely accurate, just as the more peace-minded and tolerant Crusaders like Tiberias (basically fills the role of the real-life Raymond of Tripoli) is.
Though nearly not as developed as the Christian war hawks, there is a Muslim character in the movie who is an officer to Salah-ad-Diin, who comes across as a fanatical war-loving type. He only has a few lines in the film and little screen time, but he is the one who riles up the Muslim soldiers before the siege of Jerusalem, exhorting them to say Allahu Akbar. He also states “God wills it” before the battle, the same phrase the Christian war hawks and fanatics endlessly chant thoughout the movie (and the same phrase attributed to Pope Urban II when he exhorted the Europeans to join the First Crusade in real life). It’s clear that the filmmakers were trying to draw a parallel between the “extremists” of both sides, whether that’s fair or not.
There is little character development in this movie, and that goes for even several main Christian characters, so there is even less for the few Muslim characters, though the personage of Salah-ad-Diin comes out a bit at the end. Besides Salah-ad-Diin, the only other main Muslim character (apart from the one mentioned above) is his chief adviser, who is portrayed as fair and reasonable.
The first Muslim we meet in the movie picks a fight with the main character Balian, so the viewer essentially roots for him to kill the Saracen, which he does. Apart from this duel, the battle scenes in this movie are chaotic and often discombobulating, and the rest of the Muslims are faceless hordes of soldiers fighting the Crusaders. Though the movie does outline some of the legitimate reasons the Muslims were fighting, they are still seen as the mysterious ones. Though the viewer is allowed to objectively understand why the Muslims were fighting (at least partially), the emotive current of the movie pushes the viewer to subjectively root against them. It plays on the rooting for the underdog, glory in defeat, fighting the good fight against impossible odds theme rather than a “kill the Saracens” theme. The two main battles in the film (a completely fictional suicidal charge by Balian at Kerak and the siege of Jerusalem) lionize the Crusader underdogs. The Muslim forces don’t generate any respect; they’re so many in number and so powerful that they’re expected to win, though they never really do “win” in the film, even though the Crusaders surrender. The layman viewer therefore never garners respect for the Muslim side on this primitive bestial level, when many filmgoers tend to appreciate and “learn” from films only on this level.
That being said, this movie does not contain any elements that actively espouse hatred of Muslims. Indeed it does at times at least partially humanize them as a nation of people. There are several scenes of Muslims praying (though most of the time they are erroneously standing far apart, with the exception of magnificent scene where you see the massive army outside Jerusalem collectively making rukoo and sujood during a break in the fighting). Salah-ad-Diin partially recites Surah Fatihah over the bodies of the dead as he weeps though unfortunately they don’t translate it. The idea of religious equity in the film is elicited in a scene where one Crusader explains to the main character Balian what “subhana rabbil adheem” means as he sees Muslims praying for the first time. He responds by saying, “it sounds like the things we (the Christians) say when we pray.” The other main comparative religious comment in the film irked and disappointed me though; during another scene where Balian watches some Muslims praying, the princess says “their Prophet tells them to submit, Jesus tells us to decide”.
Probably the most positive element of the film could be the ubiquity of the salaam in the film. Nearly all the characters, Muslim and Christian, say it at some time to one another during the film, in alternative combinations of English and Arabic. At the very least, a viewer could leave the film understanding what the salaam means.
As for Salah-ad-Diin, it’s a relatively fair portrayal. Salah-ad-Diin is one of the few non-scholar Muslim leaders of the Crusades (and of the last millennium) who stand up to moral criticism. Others from the era simply do not, with the exception of maybe Nur-ad-Diin. His character in real life was absolutely amazing and inspiring; I can’t even begin to explain my own feelings of deep admiration for him. Even though it’s just a movie, I honestly got chills at times “seeing” him on screen. The viewer definitely develops a respect for him, particularly at the end of the film. Ghassan Massoud, the actor playing him, has definite stage presence.
His actions in the film are consistent with his real life persona: kind, merciful, tolerant and chivalrous to the end. He offers his physicians to the king, he picks up a fallen cross in a church after the siege and places it back upright. It’s only a brief taste though. It should be noted that the modern day Crusaders and Islamophobes have been highly critical of the film in large part because of this portrayal of Salah-ad-Diin and there is an ongoing effort to rewrite history in order to vilify him and the Muslims of that time.
One of the glaring historical omissions in the film though is that while the siege of Jerusalem by Salah-ad-Diin is shown, it not shown that Salah-ad-Diin had offered peace and security to the city before the siege, an offer the Crusaders refused. That omission makes a big difference. It’s obvious why they did it since it romanticizes and legitimizes the Christian defense of the city for the purposes of the movie.
The carnage of the First Crusade 100 years prior is finally referred to at the end of the film, when Balain and Salah-ad-Diin discuss the terms of surrender. When Salah-ad-Diin states that all the Christians will be spared and allowed to go, Balian incredulously reminds him that the Crusaders had slaughtered every Muslim when they seized the city. Salah-ad-Diin replies, “I am not those men. I am Salah-ad-Diin, I am Salah-ad-Diin.” Massoud, perhaps intentionally, emphasizes the name in Arabic in a way that makes you remember the meaning of his name: “the righteousness of the faith”. Juxtapose that with those who claimed religion but did not practice its righteousness. What follows then is the best line of the film: Salah-ad-Diin is asked: What is Jerusalem worth? He shakes his head and says “Nothing”, walks away for a moment and then turns back, clenches his fists with a smile and says, “Everything.” As a Muslim it’s hard not to feel emotion hearing that or seeing him smile when he is in the city watching a minaret restored in Bayt-al-Maqdis.
Overall, because of the portrayal of Salah-ad-Diin (though it still leaves room to be desired), I would say the film is overall fair to the Muslim side, at least acknowledging it when few ever do, especially nowadays. It’s a mixed bag, maybe a 6 out of 10 in its Muslim elements. Unfortunately, the very fact that modern day Crusaders are in an absolute fury, even over this film, is testament to how deep, and how strong, their hatred of Islam and the Muslims is. May Allah protect us…
|05/09/05 at 20:15:19|
|05/09/05 at 23:46:09|
thanx for the review!! perhaps the die-hard fans can still rent it but i can see its probably not worth the 10 bux or whatever...
i wish someone would make a movie like gladiator with a muslim hero ie. salahuddin...
if anyone has arab satellite tv they are showing Salahuddin every night... the one made in Egypt entitled Salahuddin: The Eagle of the East, that is in over 30 parts -- there's alot of problems with it as well even tho its made by muslims.. but i like watching it cause the arabic in it is phat... but here's a review:
|05/16/05 at 13:13:46|
i dont know if anyone caught this, but the history channel was also showing an account of the crusades. they also didnt portray Salahaddin (may Allah Accept his deeds) as an evil tyrant. they emphasized the facination that the two opposing leaders had with each other...i was amazed when they said Salahaddin even sent his enemy a horse in the midst of a battle when he saw that his horse had been slain. they also depicted the viciousness of the crusaders attacking women and children in comparison to the mercy that the muslims showed to prisoners. the one thing that "tuggeg at my heart strings" was hearing that after all of expeditions, he died before he was able to make his most desired expedition...hajj
|05/16/05 at 22:56:53|
Remember this: It's only Entertainment!
If you really want to go and understand about the actual story of the crusades and as well as the Hero Saluhadin, then go read it! I am fed up with movies like this trying to interact historical data into a film. It just doesn't work. The truth is in the book - not in a movie. But if your a fan of entertainment and mind boggling of how they created the story with many errors - go watch the movie! It's fun! Great and it's nearly the same as Gladiator!
|05/27/05 at 15:17:35|
|If you want to learn about the Crusades, heres a [url=http://www.taha.co.uk/shopping/product_details.php?id=&product_id=1897940718]really good book[/url], which explains the story in a easy to follow manner, with nice lil pics of maps and the jerusalem mosques as well.|
I would avoid kuffar films, no matter how 'fair' they are, since it is all fitnah (music, picture making, time wasting, unhijabbed women etc etc)
|05/28/05 at 23:01:13|
as salaamu alaykum,
another good book is "The Crusades through Arab Eyes"
|Screening Kingdom of Heaven in Beirut|
|06/25/05 at 08:16:48|
June 10 / 12, 2005
Ridley Scott's Crusades Strikes a Chord in Lebanon
Screening Kingdom of Heaven in Beirut
By ROBERT FISK
Long live Ridley Scott. I never thought I'd say this. Gladiator had a
screenplay that might have come from the Boy's Own Paper. Black Hawk
Down showed the Arabs of Somalia as generically violent animals. But
when I left the cinema after seeing Scott's extraordinary
sand-and-sandals epic on the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven, I was deeply
moved--not so much by the film, but by the Muslim audience among whom I
watched it in Beirut.
I know what the critics have said. The screenplay isn't up for much and
Orlando Bloom, playing the loss-of-faith crusader Balian of Ibelin, does
indeed look--as The Independent cruelly observed--like a backpacker
touring the Middle East in a gap year.
But there is an integrity about its portrayal of the Crusades which,
while fitting neatly into our contemporary view of the Middle East--the
moderate crusaders are overtaken by crazed neo-conservative barons while
Saladin is taunted by a dangerously al-Qa'ida-like warrior--treats the
Muslims as men of honour who can show generosity as well as ruthlessness
to their enemies.
It was certainly a revelation to sit through Kingdom of Heaven not in
London or New York but in Beirut, in the Middle East itself, among
Muslims--most of them in their 20s--who were watching historical events
that took place only a couple of hundred miles from us. How would the
audience react when the Knights Templars went on their orgy of rape and
head-chopping among the innocent Muslim villagers of the Holy Land, when
they advanced, covered in gore, to murder Saladin's beautiful, chadored
sister? I must admit, I held my breath a few times.
I need not have bothered. When the leprous King of Jerusalem--his face
covered in a steel mask to spare his followers the ordeal of looking at
his decomposition--falls fatally ill after honourably preventing a
battle between Crusaders and Saracens, Saladin, played by that wonderful
Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud--and thank God the Arabs in the film are
played by Arabs--tells his deputies to send his own doctors to look
after the Christian king.
At this, there came from the Muslim audience a round of spontaneous
applause. They admired this act of mercy from their warrior hero; they
wanted to see his kindness to a Christian.
There are some things in the film which you have to be out here in the
Middle East to appreciate. When Balian comes across a pile of crusader
heads lying on the sand after the Christian defeat at the 1187 battle of
Hittin, everyone in the cinema thought of Iraq; here is the nightmare I
face each time I travel to report in Iraq. Here is the horror that the
many Lebanese who work in Iraq have to confront. Yet there was a
wonderful moment of self-deprecation among the audience when Saladin,
reflecting on his life, says: "Somebody tried to kill me once in
The house came down. Everyone believed that Massoud must have inserted
this line to make fun of the Lebanese ability to destroy themselves
and--having lived in Lebanon 29 years and witnessed almost all its
tragedy--I too founds tears of laughter running down my face.
I suppose that living in Lebanon, among those crusader castles, does
also give an edge to Kingdom of Heaven. It's said that Scott originally
wanted to film in Lebanon (rather than Spain and Morocco) and to call
his movie Tripoli after the great crusader keep I visited a few weeks
ago. One of the big Christian political families in Lebanon, the
Franjiehs, take their name from the "Franj", which is what the Arabs
called the crusaders. The Douai family in Lebanon--with whom the
Franjiehs fought a bitter battle, Knights Templar-style, in a church in
1957--are the descendants of the French knights who came from the
northern French city of Douai.
Yet it is ironic that this movie elicited so much cynical comment in the
West. Here is a tale that--unlike any other recent film--has captured
the admiration of Muslims. Yet we denigrated it. Because Orlando Bloom
turns so improbably from blacksmith to crusader to hydraulic engineer?
Or because we felt uncomfortable at the way the film portrayed "us", the
But it didn't duck Muslim vengeance. When Guy de Lusignan hands the cup
of iced water given him by Saladin to the murderous knight who
slaughtered Saladin's daughter, the Muslim warrior says menacingly: "I
did not give you the cup." And then he puts his sword through the
knight's throat. Which is, according to the archives, exactly what he
did say and exactly what he did do.
Massoud, who is a popular local actor in Arab films--he is known in the
Middle East as the Syrian Al Pacino--in reality believes that George
Bush is to blame for much of the crisis between the Muslim and Western
world. "George Bush is stupid and he loves blood more than the people
and music," he said in a recent interview. "If Saladin were here he
would have at least not allowed Bush to destroy the world, especially
the feeling of humanity between people."
Massoud agreed to play Saladin because he trusted Scott to be fair with
history. I had to turn to that fine Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf to
discover whether Massoud was right. Maalouf it was who wrote the seminal
The Crusades through Arab Eyes, researching for his work among Arab
rather than Crusader archives. "Too fair," was his judgement on Kingdom
I see his point. But at the end of the film, after Balian has
surrendered Jerusalem, Saladin enters the city and finds a crucifix
lying on the floor of a church, knocked off the altar during the
three-day siege. And he carefully picks up the cross and places it
reverently back on the altar. And at this point the audience rose to
their feet and clapped and shouted their appreciation. They loved that
gesture of honour. They wanted Islam to be merciful as well as strong.
And they roared their approval above the soundtrack of the film.
So I left the Dunes cinema in Beirut strangely uplifted by this
extraordinary performance--of the audience as much as the film. See it
if you haven't. And if you do, remember how the Muslims of Beirut came
to realise that even Hollywood can be fair. I came away realising
why--despite the murder of Beirut's bravest journalist on Friday--there
probably will not be a civil war here again. So if you see Kingdom of
Heaven, when Saladin sets the crucifix back on the altar, remember that
deafening applause from the Muslims of Beirut
|07/05/05 at 18:51:17|
long live robert fisk :)
(and inshallah convert to islam one day ;))
|Re: [Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|11/06/05 at 00:03:17|
I finally saw this movie last night. I didn't like it. Not anything about it. Some spoilers coming... but I'm sure most everyones already seen it by now.
I just didn't like how they didn't humanize the muslim side. It just made it seem as if the christian crusaders were defending the "poor people in jerusalem" from the hoarding army of Muslims who wanted to take over and destroy the innocent people. The exact opposite of what happenned!!! I mean come on.... They didn't show the Knights as crusaders who came over and decemated a civilization, killing men, women, children, animals indescriminately in order to dominate them, their wealth and their resources. They should have showed that from the beginning instead of only showing the muslim army at the end 'taking their revenge'
I didn't like the main character guy at all, I mean he just didn't seem noble or honorable at all. I mean he just goes and commits adultery with what's her name and he just kills that guy with his wife's necklace (which is understandable) but remember gladiator said "i will get my justice in there hereafter" and didn't respond to a similar thing. Then he evades the law and runs off to jerusalem and somehow ends up single handedly defending jerusalem from salahuddin's entire army and the 'saracens (mozlims)'.
Anyway this movie has no resemblance to gladiator which is a MUCH much better movie btw.
Note how they ALWAYS clearly showed the brutality of the muslim side... ie salahuddin's guy cutting the other guys throad and putting their heads on poles etc. Yet on the crusader side they made it seem like there were only a few crazy guys that wanted war and did stuff like that. They never showed what they did to Salahuddin's sister which would have clearly showed an example of the knights inhumanity a bit. The kings sister was a horrible character... i mean did anyone have any sympathy with her at all?
Then at the end, it made it seem that it was a draw and the only way Salahuddin won was because he gave an agreement for safe passage to the christians when in fact the Muslims completely defeated them and out of their rahmaa gave the crusaders protection and passage (as they are supposed to do Islamically.)
I guess the major message of the movie is anti-organized religion. The main theme emphasizes a kingdom of "conscience" (remember when he keeps pointing to his heart and his head) instead of a kingdom of "god".
So in summary the only group this movie is good for is hard core evangelical christians so they can realize where their beliefs lead to. And perhaps for the Muslims as a warning to show how easily this can happen (is happenning?) again. For everyone else, they just don't know enough about the real history and will just get the wrong message if they watch this movie.
|Re: [Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|11/06/05 at 12:52:55|
Good review Jannah, I actually just saw this the other day and agree with your assessment. I didn't understand why so many Muslims had been speaking so positively about it. It really villified Muslims. The character that Orlando Bloom played, was this an imaginary character or was this an actual character? ???
|Re: [Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|11/06/05 at 18:22:59|
[quote author=bhaloo link=board=kabob;num=1114659594;start=10#13 date=11/06/05 at 12:52:55][slm]
The character that Orlando Bloom played, was this an imaginary character or was this an actual character? ???[/quote]
Balian was a real historical figure, but everything about him was outrageously fictional in the movie. The real life Balian did fight in defense of Jerusalem against Salah-ad-Diin, and he was recognized for his bravery in the defense. The interesting thing is that he was allowed to enter Jerusalem by Salah-ad-Diin himself to escort his wife from the city, but when he entered the city the inhabitants begged him to stay to defend the city. He asked Salah-ad-Diin if he could break the personal agreement the two had made and could stay and fight and Salah-ad-Diin, in his usual chivalry, agreed.
jannah, I wonder if the DVD release is different from the one released in the theater. I had heard that there were scenes deleted in the theatrical release which included Muslims spitting on the cross and the like, but they were edited out after complaints during screenings with Muslim reps. I don't recall scenes of cutting throats and putting heads on poles. Actually it was the Crusaders who put Muslim (and even Eastern Christian) heads on poles, most notably during the times of the First Crusade, and on at least one occasion, they made the Muslim POW's carry those poles with their fellow brother's heads on them.
Anyways, it so happens that History Channel is having a documentary on the Crusades tonight and tomorrow. It was like 14 years ago they did a previous documentary on the Crusades which was pretty good, though at times a bit silly. We'll see how this one turns out...
|Re: [Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|11/06/05 at 19:15:56|
Interestingly enough went to an interfaith today celebrating the 40th anniversary of some document of the vatican that recognized non-christian religions for the first time. during q&a someone said the document was great, as well as the tolerance displayed with the speeches here, but what about all the missionary work being done in the Muslim world, another person asked about how the US is trying to legalize torture, etc etc. Just reminded me of this movie again. History does repeat itself doesn't it.
|Re: [Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|11/06/05 at 20:11:08|
| [slm] [quote] celebrating the 40th anniversary of some document of the vatican that recognized non-christian religions for the first time.[/quote]|
The Vatican has apologised to the Jews, but not to the Muslims.
[quote]what about all the missionary work being done in the Muslim world.[/quote]
what about it? The Christians have not suddenly become peaceful. They just realie that hard-line tactics haven't paid off.
They have had a lot of success through their educational institutions and thier hold on the media.
|Re: [Movie] Kingdom of Heaven|
|11/07/05 at 10:28:42|
|[slm] Oh well, too bad that Orlando bloom didn’t convert to Islam after making this movie.|
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