"It's not like a stupid Hollywood movie," said French actress Eva Green about the English director Sir Ridley Scott's Crusades flick, Kingdom of Heaven.
That's true. It's, like, a stupid English movie.
The Crusades are hot, and Ridley Scott (director of Alien) is about to make them hotter. "Muslims," gushed the New York Times after an advance showing of the new blockbuster, "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." Sir Ridley, according to the Times, "said he hoped to demonstrate that Christians, Muslims and Jews could live together in harmony - if only fanaticism were kept at bay."
Bent on coexistence, eh? That's right: the Kingdom of Heaven script invents a group called the "Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians." A publicist for the film elaborated: "They were working together. It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar cause friction between them." Ah yes, everything was all right until those "Christian extremists" spoiled everything.
Kingdom of Heaven is a dream movie for those guilt-ridden creatures who believe that all the trouble between the Islamic world and the West has been caused by Western imperialism, racism, and colonialism, and that the glorious paradigm of Islamic tolerance, which was once a beacon to the world, could be reestablished if only the white men of America and Europe would back off. Except for one detail: it isn't true.
Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, author of A Short History of the Crusades and one of the world's leading historians of the period, called the movie "rubbish," explaining that "it's not historically accurate at all" as it "depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality." Oh, and "there was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense."
Nor does Kingdom of Heaven take any notice of the historical realities of Christians and Jews who lived under Muslim rule. They were never treated as equals or accorded full rights as citizens, and always suffered under various forms of institutionalized discrimination and harassment.
The Muslim warrior Saladin, who captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, is, according to a film publicist, a "hero of the piece." However, as I explain in my forthcoming book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades (Regnery), the real Saladin was not the early version of Nelson Mandela that he is made out to be by modern-day PC myth. Much is made of the fact that when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims in October 1187, he treated the Christians with magnanimity - in sharp contrast to the behavior of the Crusaders in 1099. But Saladin was no stranger to massacre: when his forces defeated the Crusaders at Hattin on July 3, 1187, he ordered the mass execution of his Christian opponents. According to his secretary, Imad ed-Din, Saladin "ordered that they should be beheaded, choosing to have them dead rather than in prison. With him was a whole band of scholars and Sufis and a certain number of devout men and ascetics; each begged to be allowed to kill one of them, and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais??¢â???¬ ¦"
Also, when Saladin entered Jerusalem later that year, his magnanimity was actually pragmatism. He had initially planned to put to death all the Christians in the city. However, when the Christian commander inside Jerusalem, Balian of Ibelin, threatened in turn to destroy the city and kill all the Muslims there before Saladin could get inside, Saladin relented - although once inside the city he did enslave many of the Christians who could not afford to buy their way out of town.
Kingdom of Heaven is being touted as "a fascinating history lesson." Fascinating, maybe - but only as evidence of the lengths to which modern Westerners are willing to go to delude themselves.