We do more than just read books. Many of
us love watching a good film or a made for TV production. What's
wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. We like to
be entertained. TV and DVDs are a big part of our lives,
how much do you actually know about that film or TV production.
Is it appropriate for my children? Will I like it?
Could I use this material in school? Just how historically
accurate is this? How much "Hollywood" is in
this film? And finally, if I buy this film and take it
home, will I enjoy it as a film? Or is it going to bore
me to tears?
of you have found my reviews helpful in the past. It is
my sincere hope that you will find these reviews just as helpful.
links to my most popular reviews: The
Crusades: Crescent and the Cross Kingdom
you would like to read my reviews as they appears on Amazon, please
click on the picture of the movie. The title will take you
to the product on Amazon.
Tristan and Isolde
Overall Rating -
** Entertainment value -
This timeless love story has been told many times over in
print. From its origins as a Celtic
story, to the French romance to Wagner's Opera, there are many versions and
each of them is intriguing in their own way.
But there are key elements to the story. The love potion that the couple drinks, the
broken sword that indicated that Tristan slew the Queen's brother. The story, which predates the Arthurian
legends and is probably the origins of the Arthurian legend, and it contains
some magical elements that made it a fascinating story about a noble knight,
Courtly Love and betrayal.
This production of the story, staring James Franco as
Tristan and Sophia Myles as Isolde with Rufus Sewell as King Mark, presents us
with the lovers triangle and is well done for a Hollywood tale with the usual
Hollywood spin. The costumes are
attractive and the scenery is probably the best part of the film.
However, I was not impressed with the interpretation of the
story. I felt that the plot had been
changed a bit more than I would have liked.
Tristan is not the noble knight portrayed in the original story. And the stiff acting by James Franco left
that part lacking is so many aspects that for me, Tristan was neither
attractive nor heroic. King Marke, in the
original story, is the betrayer, always looking to find fault with Tristan and
looking to catch the lovers in some kind of compromising position. In this interpretation, Marke is the one
wronged, and he is the one betrayed. The
couple, in the legend, never ventures further than Courtly love, Tristan always
being the honorable knight. In this
version; well, Hollywood must have its love scene.
And the magical element?
The love potion which is the reason in many of the stories for the two
who fall in love, is left out. The story becomes changed and the whole
responsibility is placed on the lovers, not the magic. The love potion is
So, we go back to, ok, Hollywood
did a number on the original story, and they do that, don't ya know. We are still looking at a movie and its
The acting of Rufus Sewell is a standout. Sophia Myles is also as beautiful as she is
talented. But we come back to James
Franco. Sorry, but he was unimpressive
as the Hero of the story, lacking in presentation, dialogue, and at times he
looked like he was dragging himself through the part.
So, in all fairness, the movie was not uninteresting. But there were times when it overly resembled
the Arthurian Legend, with the King being wronged by his queen and her knight. It did seem to be working towards yet another
version of King Arthur, and in that respect, it seemed unoriginal. The elements that made it unique seemed to
be left out, and the viewer was left with the impression that, yup, yet another
remake of the story of King Arthur. And
if I wanted that, there are film versions of that story with better acting.
Overall Rating -
I would give this an R
This movie is rated R
for good reason. While I have no issue with the R rating, the saga
was never like this.
The Beowulf Story is there.
This is a "modern" and "updated"
Entertainment value -
I want to start off by saying this is an adaptation of the
book, it is by no means the story as told in the book. The move is sold
as a "modern adaptation" of the
It is filmed in Iceland. To be honest, the scenery is lovely, and sets
the story well. Costumes; I'm mixed on
look appropriate, others look a bit out of place. The accents also struck me as wrong. Sorry, this is a hodgepodge of accents,
ranging from Canadian to Scottish, to English to Norse inflections. No
one seemed to be on the same page with this.
I am not familiar with any of the cast. The director is Sturla Gunnarsson, who's
credits include everything from Da Vinci documentaries to Ricky Nelson. Beowulf is Girard
Butler, probably most recognizable from his role in the 2004 production of "The
Phantom of the Opera". Grendel
is played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, and I did not recognize any of his film
familiarity with the cast is not as necessary as familiarity with
the saga, as you will be challenged in that respect.
But on to the actual film.
The scenery in Iceland is barren and mysterious, as is this movie.
It is a very violent film, taking us very visually into the slaughter
perpetrated by the Grendel. This movie
is presented as coarse in it's approach and it's language. We are given barbarians as interpreted by the
writer Andrew Rai Berzins and the director.
This movie presents us with a very raw and unrefined version of Beowulf. Some of the dialogue I felt is, well,
off. The language used is not of the
time period but modern. And while they were a randy bunch of barbarians,
the life style was overemphasized, in my opinion. Too many
parties, not enough story.
Overall these elements gave this movie more of a modern
slasher feeling than the classic epic I was expecting. Maybe too much modernization can spoil the
feel of a classic masterpiece. I was
left feeling disappointed rather than entertained and exuberant at the
conclusion of the film. I was looking for Beowulf and Grendel, I saw an
SCA reinactment in a Friday night drive-in B movie special.
The acting is... convincing
- the actors get into their
parts. But again, I was hard pressed
locate the original story amongst the various interpretations and modern
trappings included in the film.
Hollywood in Iceland. Their interpretation, their idea of what the
story is about and while interesting, not entertaining. I do not recommend this for young kids, and
you really do need to take this as the modern interpretation it is
intended. Overall, I found it "interesting".
The Crusades: Crescent & The Cross
A History Channel
Overall Rating -
I would give this a PG rating.
While the violence is included, it is in many cases held to
a respectable level for all viewing. I
would say from 6th grade on could view this without incident. It is good they did not de-emphasize theviolence of the period and they conveyed this in the production very well
without going overboard.
Historical Accuracy -
As in all History Channel productions, the material is expertly
covered, well researched and there are even little extras that make this a
valuable asset to both the casual student of the Crusades as well as the
specialist. Many little elements make
this a good reference piece.
Entertainment value -
I rate the production at 5 stars, for excellent research,
good production values and being entertainingly told to the viewer. The various scholars chosen for their areas
of expertise are also very good as they are energetic for the most part, do not drone or bore,
they fit their commentaries precisely into the production and do nothing
but add to the material. I also enjoyed
the battle reenactments.
The story is told by the various chroniclers for both
sides. We see William of Tyre's
chronicles as the "zealous, Christian eyes" version of the Crusades, just as we
see Baha-al-Din's much over romanticized and "honeyed over" version of
Sal-al-Din's deeds. There are also
additional "eye witness" accounts added in.
This is balanced out by the addition of the commentaries of the various
I received this advanced review copy from the promotional
company working for the History Channel.
I must admit that they sent me a very nice package
and a bonus disk. This is an eight sided
box, like a two pound box for candy - lovely print job. The two disks are contained in a book inside
the box, along with a CD disk of photos - some from the production, others are
historical pictures of either the key players or events/places. A very nice package, though it will not fit
on your DVD shelf. Also, one of the
pages in my book was stapled in upside down.
Still, a nice presentation.
Apart from this, the work itself is very interesting. I sat through the entire production and was
never bored or antsy. Actually, I found myself
marveling at what the History Channel has done here.
The program covers the First
Crusade on the first disk. There is an examination of the causes of the
initial conflict, examining cultural issues, Religious issues, European social
and political unrest, Church influences, financial issues and points of
conflict in the Moslem and Byzantine world.
While Religion is acknowledged as the primary cause of the conflict,
they also do not ignore key issues that lead to these conflicts. There is also discussion of Urban's
"selling of the Crusades". Very well put
together and an in depth examination of the events leading up to the First Crusade.
Included also are maps of the areas, modern day images of
the cities today as well as places that have survived, and those that
There is a lot of information to sift through here. While the story is carefully laid out and
well developed in order of events, the program purposefully comes across as a
story woven by an expert story teller.
Even the added discussions by such noted scholars as Dr. Thomas
Asbridge, Tariq Ali, Prof. John France and Dr. Taef el-Azhari, to name a few,
comes across as additional parts of the storytelling.
There are the usual added "tidbits" thrown in by the History
Channel, like uncovered bits of text to give clarification to some accounts and
the discovery of a location of a famous battle that up to now had been unknown.
Emphasis appears to be on key battles, as these are
reenacted for the viewer. These are
provided by Lion Television, and are nice additions to the material. They keep the viewer interested as this
material could get rather dry if not for points of interest like this.
The second disk covers the Second and Third Crusades. Again, social and political climates are
discussed and examined. Again, the story
is covered in a "timeline" of events from the vantage point of the
We are presented with the fall of Edessa,
the calling of the Second Crusade, the rise of Nur-el-Din, the battle for Damascus, Egypt
and Sal-al-Din and the arrival of Richard the Lionheart in the Holy Land for the Third
Again, key battles are reenacted, strategies discussed,
failures noted and by the end of the film we are looking at a very good wrap
up of the entire program.
Conflict, social upheaval, cultural differences, battle
strategies, religious zealots and the lust for war and violence all comes
through as the story of the Crusades unfolds in this production. We see the heroes, and the vile nature of the
event itself. Nothing is left glossed over.
There is some romanticism here, as the chroniclers tended to be very bias
towards their benefactors, but on the other hand, we also see the social and
political issues that were key to the events that took place. And while not shown, there is discussion of
the atrocities and barbarism that was prevalent during these events.
This is a good overview of the events that took place
starting 1099 and which continued for about 200 years. There are some events that are more examined
than others, and some key figures that are discussed in some detail. It was,
however, very entertaining, factual and well worth,
I felt, the time I spent watching it. medievalcrusadesbabe
Century Fox Production directed
by Ridley Scott.
Staring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green,
Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson.
Overall Rating -
Rated R by the Motion Picture Industry Standards
Historical Accuracy -
Entertainment value -
*** and a half.
The story line tells of a man who was a lord in the Levant
who returns to France for his long lost son, brings him to Jerusalem where the
father dies, the son takes his place, and Jerusalem falls to Sala-al-din, and
the people are saved by the son's cunning and kindness.
The question I've been asked a few times by readers of this
site is - how historically accurate is this piece? I watched this movie through, and I want to
remind my readers that the only historically accurate information here is that Hollywood does tend to
take a story, base it in some kind of historical reference, add to it for
romance, action and how well it will fit into 145 minutes.
However, before we correct the errors, I want to say that
taken as an entertainment and not for historical value, the movie was
entertaining. I liked the interpretation
of Balian by Orlando Bloom. Actually,
Orlando Bloom was nice to see as other than some hunky cheesecake on the
screen. He may actually have an acting
career if he continues to take parts that require him to act. He did a good job here, and for an overall
period piece on the Crusades, I would give this movie 3 and a half stars. It's a bit better than average, but the lack
of accurate history takes one star off the top, and a few of the "goofs" in the
movie take another half star. It was
worth sitting through, it is nicely done with the costumes and the scenery, and
overall, the major events are somewhat accurate.
The movie makes the assumption that you are somewhat
familiar with the Crusades, and know about the battle at the Horns of Hattin
and the fall of Jerusalem. They assume you know that Sala-al-din was in
charge of the army that finally rousted the Crusaders out of Jerusalem.
Not much background is given on any of the major players. I am sure that more than one watcher of this
film scrambled to the history books to look up some of the information. I know I've gotten lots of emails regarding
this film and questions about it's historical accuracy.
Balian was probably not brought from Europe
by his father as the story here tells, nor was he the only son. Balian had a brother Baldwin of Ramla and
both brothers seem to just appear in the history books. The story about Balian's background is a Hollywood production
as I see it.
But Balian was one of the designated "bailliage" for Jerusalem, a position that was like an
"overseer" for the King, who was either ill or too young to handle all the
duties at that time. These "bailli" are
changed as needed throughout the historical final story of Jerusalem.
At one point Guy de Lusignan was bailli, till his failure at Damascus.
Sibyl was Baldwin (the Leper) IV's sister. Sibyl was married previous to Guy and had a
child who would be crowned king at age 5.
Her first husband lived only a few months into the marriage. This was all left out. She was married to Guy. To be honest, Sibyl's reputation as a flirt
in the history books
would have made good fodder for the story plot if they would have played it
out, but they decided to make her a very "good" and lovely queen to Orlando
Bloom's Balian. They did not run off
together into the sunset.
But the choice of the lead character, Balian, was a good one
on Hollywood's part, as he is treated well by the history books as one who was
respected by both the royal court in Jerusalem as well as the Moslems. Balian was in the rear guard at the battle of
Hattin, and was allowed by Sala-al-din to return to Jerusalem to remove his wife and children
before Sala-al-din was to seige it.
The rest of the story is pretty much true.
Balian threatens to kill
all and destroy Jerusalem
unless there is some truce reached. What
is not told is that Sala-al-din allows everyone to leave provided they pay a
"ransom". The lords do ransom themselves
out, as do the clergy, but the Templars and the Hospitalers leave all the poor
folks high and dry, and Balian pays what he can for the balance of the people
to leave, which by the way, was most of the population of Jerusalem.
Sala-al-din releases the balance without ransom, allows them 40 days to
depart, and escorts them all to the sea.
The story is Hollywood,
woven around some actual facts. There
are a few goofs in details, some key facts just left out, some romance spun
around to make the movie more palatable to some. The battle scenes are done well, much gore
splashing around, no lack of blood and gutts.
Probably what got this film an R rating, as I see it. There is no "sex" to speak of except for a
brief love scene, which is very short and discrete. I am glad to see they did not make
Sala-al-din out to be the bad guy in the bunch. There were enough bad guys in the Crusaders
to hold the story together. No one was
spotless, and the movie goes that route.
If you want something that is entertaining with a Crusader
theme, this is a good choice. If you are
looking for historical facts, they are not really here. Orlando Bloom really
does act in this film,
proving he can be more than just eye candy.
Liam Neeson is excellent as ever, as Balian's father. Jeremy Irons as the trusted Tiberias was an
interesting character as well.
Enjoy the movie for what it is
- entertainment. Look to the history books for actual history. This is the Hollywood
rendition of the Crusades and the Fall of Jerusalem, and they tell it in the
best entertaining way they can. Facts
get in the way of plot, and actors are chosen not because they are accurate in
their appearance, but because they are good at playing a part and big names attract
attention. If you take this into
consideration, then you will enjoy this film.
And, of course, you have to be interested in the Crusades. medievalcrusadesbabe
The Knights Templar
American Home Treasures/BFS
Entertainment Copyright 2000 - DVD
Rating - I give this a G - General Audience, any age group.
I think it will appeal more to the 6th through 12th grades
mostly, as younger groups may find the material generally uninteresting.
Historical Accuracy - ****
While I personally feel not enough background was discussed, given the time
restraints of the production, the material was very accurate, the history
covered was well researched and discussion of the "Legend" part was very
Entertainment Value - ***
The entire production, while not boring, did seem challenged
for graphic or visual appeal. Producing
four one-half hour segments should not have been such a problem to fill that
material was repeated.
Perspective - ****
The perspective here is very professional and straight forward. We are discussing history, there is no
attempt to over romanticize or gloss over anything presented. Very nicely presented.
This documentary examines the Military Monk order of the
Knights Templar. This is a Canadian
production and it is, in my opinion, quite good.
The material is based on the researches of Professor Malcolm
Barber of the University of Reading in England, who appears in this
production discussing the history presented.
It is augmented with material by Dr. David Nicolle of the University of Nottingham
in England as well. Both men are noted Medieval
Historians and authors, Prof. Barber being a noted historian on the Crusades,
and Dr. Nicolle being very well versed on medieval history, castles and
The production is in four parts, covering Origins, Corporation, Frontier and Legend. The total viewing time for this entire
production is approximately two hours.
Origins cover how
the Templars came about. They do not
mention Hugh de Payne or the original group who are credited with the founding
of the Templars, but does pick up from the time of the First Crusades, and does
cover the circumstances of why a military order was needed, and how the Order
was finally acknowledged and accepted. The
battles are not extensively covered till the fall of Jerusalem. The battle at the Horns of Hattin is covered. What is covered very well is how the Templars
populated the area with castles. The
film covers many locations, examining the castles, showing bits of artwork and
some gents dressed up as Templars. As far
as history goes, most of episode covers the general history of the Crusades, finally
focusing on the Templar part in the history.
much more interesting, showing how much of an important part the Templars
played in the construction of the financial basis for that time period in
history. The foundation of the Templar
finances is examined and clearly laid out.
This is necessary in order to understand what finally happens to
them. Also examined is the power
struggle in the Middle East for the control of the Holy Lands, the various
groups who had a part to play in this, and the Templar reinforcement of the
Crusader holdings in that area.
Frontier lays the
basis for the fall of the Holy Land and the
effects it had on the Templars. Reinforced and secure, they lose their ground
to the Mamluks. The power struggle plays out, the Holy Land is
finally lost to the Crusaders, and the Templars move back into Europe to find they are financially secure, but have no
reason now for existence. They expand
their basis in shipping and trade, but their existence can not bejustified as
their main purpose, to protect the Holy Lands, is no longer valid.
The final installment, Legend,
examines the fall of the Templars. Their
financial holdings appealed to a failing monarchy, they become the target for
the financially strapped French King, and are arrested, tortured, tried and
burned. The Pope disbands the order,
hands over their holding to the Hospitalers. They examine the final days of the Templars,
and what remains. Also examined are some of the more dominating
legends and myths. Curses, treasures, the
Shroud of Torin and the Free Mason associations are discussed.
documentaries, Prof. Barber and Dr. Nicolle, as well as a few other
specialists, add their viewpoints and their expertise to the topic and make
some sense out of what could be confusing and lacking in details. The material is augmented by the commentaries
and is very much like a college class study than a read through a high school
text book. A big plus in my view.
The examination of
the legends and stories about the Templars is also a big plus, as it puts into
perspective some of the myths that started almost as soon as the last Templars
were put to death. A very good addition
to the work.
While the history
seems skimmed over, it appears the timing is probably the reason why. Each episode is approximately 30 minutes
long, so there really isn't all that much time to get into details.
One thing I did find
annoying was the production itself.
There is much repetition in the visuals.
The same knights keep trotting across the screen to fill in the visuals
while the narrator Art Malaik covers some details. Mr. Malaik's voice, however, does not drone
on as some narrators do, so it saves the production in that respect. But that same group of men dressed as knights
plod through the entire production, sometimes in a repeated scene, and in my opinion
the producers could have found some better material to fill the visual spaces
with. But that is my opinion.
As far as the
history, the material is well researched, well presented and the whole of the
production is very interesting and the time allowed for the production covers
the material well enough.
This would fit well
as a four part series to augment any medieval history class, as they are
roughly thirty minute episodes. And the expertise
of Prof. Barber and Dr. Nicolle make this a very good all around picture of the
Crusades as well. So, if you are looking
for some good historical background material for the Crusades and the Knights
Templar, this is a good production well worth the time to explore. medievalcrusadesbabe
The History Channel's presentation staring Terry Jones; A
BBC TV Production in Association with A&E Television. Copyrighted 1995 -
I give this a rating of PG 17 because of some brief partial nudity
in Part 4 and overall violence. Not
that this would bother me or keep me from showing this to my High School aged
kids, but there are folks out there who take exception to this and this is
being noted for your benefit. After all, this is a program about the Crusades...
it was violent. Though, to be very
honest, there is probably more violence in that video game your kids are
playing right now than in the entire 4 hours of this show. As for the nudity, again, it is a personal
thing. I did not find it distasteful,
nor did I think it was out of place, though some may consider it so. I leave it
up to you.
Historical Accuracy - ****
There are bits here that could be argued by notable
scholars, but that's nitpicking it a bit.
Overall this production is very accurate and keeps to the facts.
Entertainment Value -
A production of this nature needs to keep its audiences
attention. If it lags, if it loses
appeal, folks will turn it off. The
Crusades can be boring.
Rather, this production is well presented, a visual feast for
the eyes and the brain. The material
presented moves at a good pace, not losing the audience nor boring them to
death, which could easily happen with material such as this. It will also keep the attention of the High
Perspective - ****
I want to be perfectly clear here. The perspective of the writers is really the
only thing that counts. It is, in
effect, the history as they see it. However,
I personally had absolutely no issues with the way the history is presented in this
However, if you are of the opinion that the Crusades were a
sacred mission from God and that we were justified by any means to do what we
did, this is not the production for you.
Only the open minded will appreciate the material provided here.
But, as a warning, the markings for the perspective are
purely from my own point of view. I
think the producers succeeded in presenting the material fairly.
Having made these opening statements, and leaving it to your
own personal judgment from this point on, I would like to recap some of the
material covered in this production, and give my own impressions of the
material presented, the style of the presentation and what I feel personally
about the work labeled The Crusades
by Terry Jones.
Terry Jones is probably better known for his work as one of
the members of the 1960s comedy group Monty
Python. But more notably, Mr. Jones
does have several books out including a work on Chaucer and a television piece
called The Complete and Utter History of Britain. His work is a bit tongue in cheek and that is
Mr. Jones style. He does tend to
overstate the obvious and because of his work in television and the movies, he
does it with a very dramatic flair. That
is what entertainment is all about... attracting the audience's attention by
playing up the obvious and emphasizing it with drama and special effects. Assisting him is Alan Ereira, who has
produced many documentaries for the BBC, including many historical ones. These two men teamed up to produce a four
hour documentary on the story of the Crusades, one which has been poo-pooed by
many "authorities" and praised by many others.
However, it is hard to put down a documentary which has so
many professors of Medieval History and Historical experts appearing on
it. Sir Steven Runciman appears in the
film to present bits of history to the viewers.
As does Professor Jonathan Reily-Smith, Dr. Christopher Tyerman and
Professor Zakkar of the University of Damascus, to name but a few of the very
easy to recognize Historical Experts adding to the material presented.
is well researched. It covers many different aspects of the
Crusades, including life, art, warfare and more. As an example, there is a wonderful
"sidebar" presented about the place and importance of "washerwomen" in the life
of the soldiers. While it may sound at
first to be a kind of rant or a tangent that Mr. Jones goes off on, the
importance of these women to the traveling soldiers is made perfectly clear
when their real purpose is revealed. There
are many such interesting facts added that makes this work a very good overview
of not only the Crusades, but medieval life as well.
This production covers a lot of history. From the letter written by Emperor Alexius to
Urban to the final sweep of Babar and the Mamluks into Acre,
the history is presented in a "timeline" fashion, making it easy to follow and
keeping it in historical perspective, showing how one event led into another.
There are two disks in two covers inside a very attractive
slip cover box. There really isn't much
more information other than the brief cover notes. It is presented in the original four one hour
episodes. The episodes are, in order, Pilgrims in Arms covering Peter the
Hermit, the First Crusades, and the trip as far as Constantinople. The second hour is Jerusalem covering Edessa to Jerusalem. The third is Jihad which covers the Arab response to the Crusader invasion of
the Holy Land and the rise of Sal-al-Din. The final episode is Destruction which covers the final ousting of the Crusaders from
the Holy Land.
The production is a mix of the old with the new. A very original use of medieval artwork
literally brings art to life, having the historical figures speak for
themselves, quoting documentation and chronicles from that time period. Images of old medieval renderings of places
and events are mixed with new footage of the same places, giving the viewer the
real sense of history, places and conditions.
Yes, there is a touch of "Hollywood" in the presentation. This is very well done, though sometimes it
may seem overdone. But in my opinion, it
keeps the viewer involved, entertained and takes what could have been dry,
boring and basically uninteresting and grabs the viewer's attention. This is a mark of excellence in my book,
rather than a mark against it. Having
dragged myself through a number of sullen texts and boring classes on the
subject, I appreciate something that is original, interesting and still
The accuracy of the material has been called in question by
some "authorities". Actually, what is
presented here is both sides of the coin.
We look at the Crusades from the Moslem side as well as the Crusaders
side. Some folks are not happy with
this, and I believe the producers restrained themselves sometimes in the
material presented. But the balance is
well done, and presents a very big and bold picture.
There is no shortage at presenting the Crusaders as they
really were. Sir Steven Runciman says it
well when he described the Crusades as "a barbarian invasion." These were little more than barbarians who
had religion, as he puts it. And one
group of barbarians met another group, who also found themselves not that far
from their own barbarian roots. Both
sides fancied themselves as "civilized" and for their time, they were. But it's interesting to note how long that
"civilized manner" lasted when faced with the circumstances that took
place. Not to say there weren't members
on both sides who showed common sense, civility and humanity. But that was few and far between. History remembers them briefly, and then writes
down the facts as they saw it.
The perspective presented, in my opinion, is fair. There is much material here to ponder,
research further, and even argue if you are so inclined. But no one is favored here; all the skeletons
are pulled out of their closets and paraded about for all to see.
There are those who will also argue that Terry Jones gave
this production more of a comical approach.
Rather, I feel he adds to it. His
sarcastic approach is appropriate in many instances. He slides to the cutting edge, rather than
presenting you with the bloody knife and then ignoring it. Yes, you don't know you've been hit with the
brutal truth till you are knee deep in blood.
And that is exactly where he wants you to realize you are. After all, this was the Crusades, not a walk
in the park to Jerusalem.
He presents all the brutality, all the blame is placed on
the appropriate parties and no one is allowed to escape their crimes. This is going to upset those who are
romantically approaching the Crusades, or who have not read anything other than
"approved texts" for the very indoctrinated.
I found this refreshing, and very well done.
If you are looking for a good beginning point for your study
on the Crusades, if you want to ditch your schoolbooks and get into the meat
and potatoes of what really happened, if you are open minded enough, and if you
are into being entertained with a well done, well produced and historically
accurate work, this is a really good overview of the Crusades. I would love to recommend you give this a few
hours of your time. It is a very well
done documentary. medievalcrusadesbabe
Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend
Delta Production Copyrighted 2004 Delta Entertainment Corp. This is a
Delta production, and is presented as a documentary in DVD format. The idea from the title is to present the legend, and
then present some kind of proof for the legend.
would give this a PG rating, viewable by all ages. However,
because of it's slow pace it may not be a good production for the
classroom, as it will probably not interest or keep the attention
of the 6th through 8th grade crowd much.
For information, it is about 2 stars.
For a production made in 2004, I've read some much more interesting new
information regarding the locations of the events in the legend than what is presented
here. I have also read some of the
earlier works from France and Wales
about Arthur and the Grail that I found to be the origins of the Malory
rendition that are never gone into here.
There is no discussion of the deeper meanings of the stories. It is mostly superficial, just the legend and
Even the credits at the end do not give any sources for the information
presented, just the names of the locations photographed. Historically, there is more evidence that
could have been presented but was not.
There are earlier versions of the Legend that are not explored. Note
also that none of the more popular Knight's stories are included
Value - **
This production drags and plods along for much of the 90 minutes the film
runs. Nicely photographed, the
narrator's voice (Liam Dale) is not really all that pleasant. Much of the material in this production is
well known and has been speculated to death elsewhere.
If you have read the "Morte d'Arthur" you know much of what is in this
production as far as the story goes.
Nice pictures, average story dragged out to 90 minutes.
This production is presented as a mystery that is going to be
solved. In actuality, nothing is solved,
much is speculated upon, and the wrap up is more like a pep rally for the
Arthurian Legend than a wrap up. It is
presented as a "truth behind the legend" but there is only legend presented.
Nowhere is actual "proof" for "truth"
looked to this production to be a very updated and scholarly work
looking at recent findings and work done in the field to bring Arthur
into a more realistic perspective than is done in the legends we
have to date. Unfortunately, this was a disappointment for
show lots of "name places" throughout England. It is interesting to see many places like Tintagle
At times it looks more like a travel log than a documentary.
is much discussion about "legends" there are small discussions about the Celts and
the Romans and "Hadrian's Wall". There is some material, like the Celts and
their cultural practices, that is mentioned but no sources given. There are a few bad puns as well. I wish the production would have given
sources which could have allowed further research.
discussion proceeds into Monastic practices of illuminated manuscripts, Celtic
metalwork, and it sometimes seems the documentary is getting off track,
discussing finds of Celtic metal workings in lakes, or discussion of the Romans
and their invasion of Britain. All this seems to take up more time than
necessary, including a visual travel log of Roman places in Italy.
return to Arthur uniting the Celts and overcoming the Germanic Saxons. Again, no sources quoted, but rather there is
mention of how long ago this was and the "hit and miss" of putting together
pointed out is the fact that there really isn't much historically other than
Godfrey of Monmouth's work that mentions Arthur. They do rightfully point out
that Godfrey was fond of filling in the blanks with his own imaginative
stories. Issues of the social structure
and the need of hero worship at the time does allow the viewer to understand
more clearly why Godfrey's work stood for 600 years without question.
of Arthur is finally related, from his fathers growing up and taking the
throne, to the birth of Arthur. It is
referenced as told as the legends relate.
The story of Stonehenge is worked in, probably just to include it in
the ever present background photographic travel log of England's
of Igraine and Uther is related. Tintagle Castle ruins is pictured as it is
today. There are sweeping images of the
ocean, complete with water droplets on the lens. Many of the locations are pictured adding to
the feeling of the legend. More often
than not, the photography of the countryside of England takes center stage,
backfilled by music rather than dialogue.
I found myself wanting to know what some of the locations that were
shown but not discussed. Waiting to the end of the film for locations
only lists the Historical sites.
switches at this point from Geodfrey of Monmouth's "history" to the telling of
the story of "Morte d'Arthur" by Malory.
There is a nice overview of the history of the story. Also discussed are the lovely illustrated
versions by Tennyson. The story is then
related from various bits from all these versions of the legend.
follows is the story of Merlin taking Uther and Igraine's first born son, his
growing up in foster care and the political unrest while the boy grew up. There is the story of the sword and Arthur at
the Mid Winter festival and how Arthur became king.
photography takes over the story. Images
of chess boards and various older texts becomes the backdrop for the slowly
unfolding story. As we follow the young
king through his trials and life, there is much speculation about where Arthur
established Camelot. Many locations are
suggested, including Winchester
and the history of the round table that is located there is discussed.
story telling includes the story of Guenevier
and the marriage to Arthur. Discussion
brings Arthur into historical perspective and we see how his persona is modeled
after various well known historical figures.
More actual history is given of Winchester than of Arthur
at this point. There is also the speculation
of Cadbury Castle being Camelot.
We follow through the story into the Lady of the Lake
legend and the sword Excalibur.
Discussion follows about Glastonbury
being a possible location of the lake, Avalon and Arthur's tomb. There is also discussion of the story of the
Holy Grail and that the entire story may have taken place in France rather than England. The production wraps up with the inclusion of
Lancelot to the story and the battle of Mordred and Arthur.
What is interesting is the photography of the name places and locations
and items that are associated with the legend.
In all honesty, the production could have been cut down to about half
an hour to 45 minutes and done
the job just as well.
If you have no background to the legend of Arthur, this is a nice,
general overview. But sitting and
watching it can be a bit antsy for viewers, as there are a lot of
points through out the production that drags. medievalcrusadesbabe