We are watching Kingdom of Heaven in my “History of Christianity” class, and we have to evaluate the historical accuracy. I am using my books, and all of my debate materials, but I was wondering on the opinions of those on the boards.
What is your opinion on the historical accuracy of Kingdom of Heaven?
On a side note: Your opinion of the religious accuracy?
I didn’t see the movie- but i remember hearing about it when it came out, and how everyone said how stupid it was to impose 21st century “political correctness” on people of that era. They just didn’t think that way, Period. So my very very unscientific survey of one or two sources says it was NOT at all historically accurate.
Absolutely not. The portrayal of Saladin was way too generous. To really understand the cold blooded butchery of the ‘hero’ that was Saladin, you need to acquaint yourself with his prior campaigns. The best example is the absolute horror of the seige of Hattin. He had many Jews and Christians beheaded at Hattin. It was a horrific bloody mess. Saladin was a brutal, if not efficient, commander. Our Muslim friends may have a different opinion of him, but his history can not be disputed. Look for some sources on Hattin as a start. After selling women and children into slavery, the men and young men were beheaded en masse.
But if I remember rightly, the movie actually shows Saladin saying “no mercy” before the attack on Jerusalem, and only relenting when Balian negotiates a surrender. Granted, it shows this as motivated by the vicious actions of the bad Crusaders. . .
My reaction generally was that the movie was PC and inaccurate in ways that could be expected, but actually got a couple of things right. One of them was the fact, mentioned above, that Saladin was merciful at Jerusalem because he took the city through negotiation rather than by storm. Another was the fact that the Crusaders, like their Muslim enemies, allowed conquered adherents of a minority religion the right to practice their religion (within limits) as long as they paid a tax. This surprised the two Methodist ministers with whom I saw the movie, and I hope it upset other people’s stereotypes as well. Because of the general use of the sack of Jerusalem in 1099 as typical of Crusading behavior (and of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem as typical of Muslim behavior, without mentioning the key factor of negotiated surrender vs. capture by storm), I find that most people think the Crusaders’ goal was to annihilate or forcibly convert Jews and Muslims. The movie actually works against that, albeit perhaps in too muted a way.
That being said, there are loads of inaccuracies and anachronisms in the movie. But I expect that in a historical movie. I never go to a movie to learn about history. That’s not what movies (except for documentaries, though even they are often dubious) are for.
I concur with the historical accuracy of these points based on my reading of the period.
Unfortunately, it gave a one-sided anti-religion (with a particular emphasis on the Christian religion) stance that the Christians were a bunch of thugs that had no business being there in the first place when it was the Muslims that over-took the territory from the Christians in the first place.
I thought the movie was largely anti-Christian with the supposed “heros” not really buying into the whole Christian way of seeing things and then see the nominal Christian and the nominal Muslim general (I wonder what Muslims think of Salidin’s portrayal as not being a general for Allah but as what I perceived as just looking to win the battle and if that meant no bloodshed, so be it) make peace terms. It’s almost as if the message was: “the religious leaders want war, we just want to get this done peacefully and we could care less about the religious end of it”.