Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Ridley Scott's latest film riles the Religious Right


The Times has an article about the upcoming Crusade film, "Kingdom of Heaven" directed by Ridley Scott. It doesn't cast the Crusaders in a good light, and of course the Religious Right is outraged:

CHRISTIAN conservatives in America are marshalling their forces against Sir Ridley Scott’s forthcoming crusader epic, The Kingdom of Heaven, claiming the film is insulting and unfair.

Scott, 67, received death threats from Muslim fundamentalists during filming in Morocco two years ago when King Mohammed VI, who admired his earlier work, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, lent him troops from the royal bodyguard.

Yet it is Christian hostility that may ultimately prove more damaging at the box office. A spate of hostile reviews that are due to appear in the increasingly influential religious press this week will urge America’s 80m born-again believers to avoid the £100m film.


Many of the resulting reviews have been poor. Bob Waliszewski, director of Plugged In Film Review, a programme heard on 300 US radio stations, said the film depicted Christians as “mean-spirited”, while Saladin, the Muslim leader, was shown as a chivalrous knight.

“The Bishop of Jerusalem is a coward who deserts his flock, and most of the crusaders are driven by greed rather than piety,” he said. “This is not how Christians I know see each other, nor will we want to see this film.”

Christian leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan are waiting to see the film before commenting. But a spokesman for Buchanan, a former presidential candidate, said early reports about the film were “truly disturbing”.

The box-office clout of born-again opinion is formidable: the fringe group that vainly protested against Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ has become a movement that turned Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ into a blockbuster.

OTOH, the New York Times has a much more balanced and favorable view of the movie:

SIR RIDLEY SCOTT'S new blockbuster, "Kingdom of Heaven," could hardly be more topical. It shows Muslims resisting Christian invaders, battles raging in wind-whipped deserts, ancient cities under siege and civilians cowering. It even shows prisoners decapitated for their beliefs.

O.K., so all this screen mayhem is meant to be happening more than eight centuries ago, but doesn't it sound like recent news from Iraq?

Well, the movie is not meant to show that Christians and Muslims have been at one another's throats for centuries. Rather, by dwelling on the extended, turbulent holy war known as the Crusades, Sir Ridley said he hoped to demonstrate that Christians, Muslims and Jews could live together in harmony - if only fanaticism were kept at bay.

To that end, for all the furious battle scenes in "Kingdom of Heaven," which opens nationwide on May 6, Mr. Scott and his screenwriter, William Monahan, have tried to be balanced. Muslims are portrayed as bent on coexistence until Christian extremists ruin everything. And even when the Christians are defeated, the Muslims give them safe conduct to return to Europe.

"It's actually about doing the right thing," said Sir Ridley, 67, a Briton whose screen combat experience also includes directing "1492: Conquest of Paradise," "Black Hawk Down" and "Gladiator." "I know that sounds incredibly simplistic. It's about temptation and avoiding temptation. It's about ethics. It's about going to war over passion and idealism. Idealism is great if it's balanced and humanitarian."

I plan to see this film when it comes out next week- plus I like Ridley Scott movies. If it pisses off the Religious Reich Right, it's a must-see.

Here's some trailers.

Here's the official movie website.