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Peter T Chattaway

other Crusades movies?

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I have been surprised to see how few Crusades movies there have been, prior to Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. I blogged this subject a few weeks ago, and found only these films at the time, a couple of which are impossible to find at the local video stores (I have seen the ones in bold):

* The Crusades (1935, USA)

* King Richard and the Crusaders (1954, USA)

* Saladin (1963, Egypt)

* Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991, USA)

King Richard also turns up in films like The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, USA) and Robin and Marian (1976, USA), but by that point in the story, the Crusades are over. Since coming up with that list -- only today, in fact -- I have also spotted an Eric Stoltz / Gabriel Byrne film loosely inspired by the so-called "children's crusade":

* Lionheart (1987, USA)

Curiously, at least one book on the filmic depiction of knights devotes a chapter to the Crusades but can rustle up only four films, two of which -- El Cid (1961, Italy/USA) and Alexander Nevsky (1938, USSR) -- may take place around that time but actually never go anywhere near the Holy Land. The other two films it explores are the 1935 and 1963 films, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Youssef Chahine respectively, and when John Aberth, the author of that book, spoke at the event described here, those were the only two films he cited.

Interestingly, in the films I have seen, the Crusades are never, ever, ever made out to be all that good a thing. DeMille's 1935 film gives it his best shot, beginning with images of crosses torn down and Christian women sold into slavery, and depicting Peter the Hermit as a bold Moses-like figure, but Saladin calls off all the nasty stuff by the end, and the REAL point of the story is that King Richard is an arrogant jerk who learns to put aside his faith in his sword in order to find true, sacrificial peace and piety.

Apart from that, King Richard comes across like an even worse jerk in Robin and Marian, ordering the savage slaughter of women and children in a defenseless castle; and even a noble depiction of him like we see in The Adventures of Robin Hood, produced when America was strongly isolationist and wanted nothing to do with the rising Nazi threat, still makes a point of tut-tutting Richard for going off on the Crusades and thus abandoning England to the likes of Prince John.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a curious anomaly in all this, since it presents the Crusades and the imposition of one's religion on other people as bad, bad things, yet when King Richard shows up at the end to bless the wedding between Robin and Marian, it's all smiles and how-do-you-do and we are clearly meant to be in awe of King Richard's (or Sean Connery's) celebrity, instead of asking questions about the justifiability of his military campaigns or his culpability in the suffering of his own people in his absence.

Does anybody here know any other films that I am missing?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Peter, you may want to check out this website... Medieval History in the Movies

It has a couple of more movies listed under the Crusades category, plus an extensive list of Medievil based movies under other various categories, all of which are linked to their individual IMDb pages.

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theoddone33 wrote:

: Does The Seventh Seal not count?

Not really -- like the Robin Hood movies, it may refer to the Crusades in some way, but they're basically a done deal, kept off-screen.

It also takes place during the 14th century, which is well after the Crusades that anyone cares about; the First was fought in the 11th century, the Third (the one that is associated with King Richard, Robin Hood, and Ridley Scott's new movie) was fought in the 12th, and the Fourth, which climaxed with the sacking of Constantinople and thus confirmed the split between the Eastern and Western churches (a split which, incidentally, may have been one of the motivating factors behind the First Crusade), ended in 1204.

Baal_T'shuvah wrote:

: Peter, you may want to check out this website... Medieval History in the Movies

: It has a couple of more movies listed under the Crusades category . . .

Thanks! Although it seems this list doesn't really add much to the database. It does add ...

* The Mighty Crusaders (1957, Italy)

* Black Cross (1960, Poland)

... but if the latter film is about the Teutonic Knights and draws comparisons to Alexander Nevsky, then I'm not sure IT would be all that relevant either (and to judge by Wikipedia's account of the Teutonic Knights' history, I would guess the film is about the Teutonic Order state created in Poland and not about the Crusades per se).

And is Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, UK) really a CRUSADES movie? I always thought it was about Arthurian legend. I certainly don't remember any scenes taking place in the Holy Land or anything like that.

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Quite a few Worldwide Pictures releases culminate at crusades.

Also, in BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON, Francis returns from the crusades at or near the beginning of the film. Probably a bit more peripheral than you're looking for.

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