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Kingdom of Heaven panned before filming

Posted by Richard on May 6, 2005

Bill Quick at Daily Pundit noted that Muslim groups seem to like Ridley Scott’s Crusades film because "in this shoddy PC epic, the Muslims are the good guys, and the Europeans are evil." This led to an interesting discussion in the comments about the historical record. The winner, IMO, was Toren, who linked to a London Telegraph article from Jan. 2004 in which British historians provide the definitive pre-filming review of the film (emphasis added):

Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say "distorts" the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light.

Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was "complete and utter nonsense". …

Dr Philips said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, Sir Ridley was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride.

Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley’s efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. "It’s Osama bin Laden’s version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists."

Amin Maalouf, the French historian and author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, said: "It does not do any good to distort history, even if you believe you are distorting it in a good way. Cruelty was not on one side but on all."

OK, that’s about all I need to know. I’ll pass on this turkey.

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