Today in Middle Eastern history: Saladin takes Jerusalem (1187)

There are plenty of things wrong with Ridley Scott’s 2005 Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven. He makes a total hash out of the history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, for example–contrary to the film, Sybilla (d. 1190) and Guy of Lusignon (d. 1194) seem to have been at least content with their marriage, Balian of Ibelin (d. 1193) wasn’t a heroic agnostic outsider but was instead a believing Christian who was deeply enmeshed in divisive court politics, and Scott eliminates King Baldwin V from the story altogether (the director’s cut, which includes all the Baldwin V scenes they shot and then cut from the film, is a better movie because Sybilla’s actions actually make some sense).


I could go on. There’s never really a great explanation for why Scott’s Balian, who goes from blacksmith to nobility, suddenly learns how to find water in the desert better than any Bedouin and has a better grasp of military tactics and strategy than anybody else in the film. In the movie’s desire to be “even handed” in its post-9/11 treatment of Muslims, it actually does a disservice to both the Crusaders (portraying many of them as insane religious zealots) and the Muslims (removing any complexity from them in favor of a “noble savage” feel). And that’s just a few of the historical problems. I’m sure a film critic would have technical complaints as well.

Source: Today in Middle Eastern history: Saladin takes Jerusalem (1187)

Author: DWD

writer, blogger, lover, fighter

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