THE new film on the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven, for all its fanfare, still delivers a powerful message that is vitally important today.
On the basis of my readings and travels in the region (and while allowing for some dramatic licence) I felt the film was faithful to the recorded historical facts of the Crusades.
The audience sees the factions that were present in the Crusaders — between those who sought co-existence with the Muslims and others who believed that God willed the slaying of the “unbelievers”.
The audience also witnesses the honour of the Sultan Saladin, commander of the Muslim armies.
In one powerful scene, Saladin puts a discarded Christian cross back in its proper place in a Jerusalem Church.
The film has offended some people by its portrayal of some of the Crusaders as brutal murderers. Some have perhaps also been offended by the fact that some Crusaders sought a genuine accommodation with the Muslims. These people are offended by what are historical facts.
This film is important because it presents an alternative view to the popular belief of the Crusades as a noble quest to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom.
The film is equally important too because the repercussions of the Crusades are being felt today, from Damascus to Washington DC.