Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rewriting History?

Crusaders Posted by Hello

The Kingdom of Heaven has faced accusations of political correctness.

A small matter of Crusade history
Jonathan Marcus BBC World Service correspondent

Who has greater claim to Jerusalem and its holy places, asks Orlando Bloom as he exhorts his Crusader followers to defend the walls of the city against the advancing Muslim army of Saladin.

It is a question that still resonates today and it is one of the reasons why Ridley Scott's new film, Kingdom of Heaven, is attracting such interest.

In a post-9/11 world where some academics and commentators are talking about a new clash of civilisations between Islam and the West, it is bound to be controversial to revisit that great earlier clash that saw western Christendom's repeated efforts to seize and hold Jerusalem.

History matters.

And cinema's portrayal of history matters too. Kingdom of Heaven may be a medieval epic set in 1187, just before a Crusader army was wiped out at the battle of Hattin. But it has already been criticised for being a very 21st century, politically correct, view of the Crusaders' world.

Professor Jonathan Riley Smith of Cambridge University is probably Britain's leading historian of the Crusades. This film has made him angry, for the Crusades are, at the moment, a rather hot subject.

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