Upcoming Historical Films

Q&A on Kingdom of Heaven

Comingsoon on "Kingdom of Heaven"

A Muslim scholar charges Kingdom of Heaven "will cause hate crimes"

An Egyptian actor defends the film

A Jewish scholar weighs in on the Crusades and the film

Time magazine weighs in on Kingdom of Heaven

The Alamo
All the King's Men
The Aviator
Cinderella Man
Cold Mountain
DaVinci Code
Finding Neverland
The Great Raid
King Arthur
Kingdom of Heaven
Last Samurai
Master and Commander
Memoirs of a Geisha
Motorcycle Diaries
National Treasure
The New World
Oliver Twist
Passion of the Christ
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pride and Prejudice
Vanity Fair
Walk the Line


(opening May 6, 2005)

'Kingdom of Heaven' trailer now available online

I'm looking forward to this one. Ridley Scott's (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) latest stars Orlando Bloom as a young widowed blacksmith, who goes to Jerusalem as a Crusader in the 12th century and ultimately helps defend Jerusalem against its Crusader and Muslim attackers. Real historical figures are depicted, including Balian of Ibelin, a Crusader knight who led the defense of Jerusalem in 1187, and the Muslim leader Saladin.

Some think the film may end up creating a Passion-like controversy. The New York Times somehow got a script (shades of The Passion!) and showed it to a few historians and religious scholars. The Times then ran a story on August 12, 2004 (reprinted here) quoting the scholars' criticism of the script, particularly its "offensive... replay of historic Hollywood stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims."

More criticism: last January, the Calcutta Telegraph ran a story (here's the link) which also had scholars attacking the film (based on another leaked script, evidently) calling the plot "rubbish", "ridiculous", "complete fiction" and "dangerous to Arab relations."

But, here's the odd thing. The two articles give contradictory accounts of the film's portrayal of Muslims. Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain’s leading authority on the Crusades, charges (in the January Calcutta piece) that Kingdom of Heaven is "Osama bin Laden's version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists." Yet the New York Times quotes a professor of Islamic law warning that the film will "teach people to hate Muslims" by promoting vicious stereotypes.

Did they look at the same script?! Are the "stereotypes" simply in the eye of the beholder? Or did Ridley Scott change the script in response to the concerns raised by the Brits? And is the New York Times doing its best to create a controversy, as David Poland argues? And by the way, who DOES leak these scripts? And why can't I ever get one? Lots of questions...

It may not have happened in real life, but hey, every historical epic needs a fictional love story, right.

Orlando Bloom looking bemused in the Holy Land

© 2004 History in the Movies