[Marxism] Crusades

Paul H. Dillon illonph at pacbell.net
Sun May 8 08:44:06 MDT 2005

I was actually impressed by the relative historical accuracy of the larger 
events.  The depiction of the raids on Caravans that was the primary source 
of conflict -- hey those Templars have to eat too!  especially hard since 
they don't work! --, the depiction of Saladin's (alt spelling) victory over 
Guy through dehydration, the encounter of the King of Jerusalem with Saladin 
to save Kerah (sp?), the truce that allowed Xtians to leave Jerusalem, all 
historically important events in the narrative of events between the second 
and third Crusades. Also excellent: depiction of medieval war machines.

Historical details ... of couse the character of Ballian is baloney although 
the Queen of Jerusalem isn't but she's a character with which the move could 
have done without -- why always sex And violence.  Isn't violence enough?  I 
mean it was only cameo sex anyway..  Also, what a quick learn with the broad 
sword.  I think even a caricature of the historical Saladin would tend to 
subvert such a fictious character.  Notice the fool running back after 
Richard at the end!!!.

My main criticism was the fact that the West (Ballian) is still shown as the 
source of learning and science, reinscribing that most traditional 
opposition between the civilized Europeans and the barbarian Arabs:  he's 
the one who dug the wells and put in irrigation (jeez record time on getting 
that first crop up!), he's the one with the neat military engineering ideas 
for caclculating projectile trajectories, firing zones, etc.  Of course at 
this time, Islam was the most advanced civilization around and Europe a 
scientific backwater.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Simon Kennedy" <simonmotorbike at yahoo.co.uk>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition" 
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2005 1:29 AM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Crusades

> This seems a strange basis on which to criticise a movie. Of course it is 
> historically inaccurate. Of course its characters are cliche.
> But here is a film in which the eastern Other is stronger, more 
> resourceful, clearer, morally unambiguous and more intelligent than the 
> western forces. The European invaders are shown as divided and weak, a 
> good number of them crude, bloodthirsty, twisted, malevolent idiots--and 
> that's just the leaders. Christian religion is lampooned and denigrated. 
> Muslim tolerance is emphasised.
> Ridley Scott's western hero's dominance over the narrative is continually 
> subverted by Selahaddin, intentionally or otherwise.
> Here is a Hollywood director doing his best to grapple with the 
> complexities of identity and religion, and, unsurprisingly, finding it all 
> really a bit too complicated. But it is an enormous step forward from the 
> nasty Black Hawk Down. I get the impression that the director was stung by 
> the criticism of that movie, and did this piece as reparation.
> It is, however, a pretty poor artistic work, but that's another 
> discussion.
> Simon Kennedy
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