Monday, May 09, 2005


Crusades Movie Gets Favorable Review - in Egypt

Nice to see something resembling historical balance coming out of Hollywood:
Crusade movie strikes chord in Arab world
Mon May 9, 2005 10:18 AM ET
By Tom Perry

CAIRO (Reuters) - A new epic movie about the Crusades has struck a chord in the Arab world, where cinemagoers say it has challenged the Hollywood stereotype of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists.

Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven," which depicts a 12th Century battle for Jerusalem between Muslims and Crusaders, is also a welcome message of support for those who back moderation over extremism in managing ties between Islam and the West.

"The film goes against religious fanaticism very clearly. All that goes against hatred, fanaticism and systematic opposition between those two worlds is welcome," said Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, author of 'The Crusades Through Arab Eyes'.
But Scott's efforts have not won universal praise among Middle Eastern viewers.

U.S.-based Lebanese academic As'ad AbuKhalil objected to a scene where the lead character, a Crusader called Balian and played by Orlando Bloom, appeared to show Arab peasants how to dig wells to irrigate farm land.

"I was ... most unhappy, when the hero of the movie ... took over his estate, and with typical Western 'genius' taught those inferior Arabs how to dig for water, as if they had not been doing that for centuries," AbuKhalil said on his Web site.

"This is akin to the Western myth of Zionist immigration causing the "desert to bloom" in Palestine."
For another non-traditional view, try Terry Jones' 1994 BBC series: The Crusades. Although told in an amusing manner, the underlying history is quite sound.

[UPDATE: History Professor (and blogger) Juan Cole analyzes Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven]


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