Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Review:Kingdom of Heavens

I was actually taken in when I read in the local state's times reporter's critique that the movie Kingdom of Heavens was made with a very neutral stance. Hollywood Impartial?

I have yet to watch a single Hollywood movie that tries to include the East that can be free from orientalistic notions. Indeed Kingdom of Heavens was just another Hollywood's pathetic attempt to account historical events.

I can understand the blunders on the complex issues. But when a hollywood director for instance sits and ponders how a character like Salahudeen should speak English, why does he simplistically assume it should be no different from the Arabs speaking English in Al-Jazeerah or BBC? The most interesting thing is that Salahudeen is not even an Arab. So why does he have such an accent?

Salahudeen and his army also are dressed in attire that you probably will recognize very similar to that of the Arab armies in Hollywood movies. But the attire of Salahudeen and his army were Ottoman styled. If the director had spent a little more time to research he could have found these truths through historical drawings etc. It really intrigues me to see how, when making such a big budget movie and especially on on historical events can fail to see these which are critical to re-create on the set the scenes then .

Coming to the more critical issues. Salahudeen is one of the biggest personalities of Islamic History. He is often never called as Salahudeen per se but instead as Salahudeen the Magnificent, Salahudeen the Reformer etc... This is because his ability to be a successful social and political reformer, great commander of army, effective head of state etc... His conquests of lands was just one part of his glory. His ability to rule them brilliantly, create economic, social and political developments within them were his other equally significant areas of glory.

Salahudeen is indeed portrayed less than himself in the movie. But what is so awkward is Salahudeen is no small personality within history to make him smaller than life. He is not Lawrence of Arabia. He holds the ranks of great conquerors like Napolean, Alexander, Genghis Khan, Babur etc except that he unlike many other conquerors, was absolutely humane and just.

At the end of the movie I realized something. As much as hollywood can tell history its own way just as many historians do, history is history. Its gone but lives. Since its gone, one cannot change it using any means. It lives despite anyone's efforts to silence it or re-shape it. So perhaps it may make sense for hollywood and biased historians to spare their efforts because if we learn the wrong history, we will repeat the mistakes history made and without doubt history will repeat.


At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my mama.

ridley scott directed it. He never wanted it to be historically correct, he wanted to an epic to satisfy the maddening masses.

How many of those who watch it knew anything of the crusades. I watch it with a bunch of people and many thought it was a non-fictional event.

History is as he who writes it.

have you watched any dinosaur documentary recently? ever wondered how they figured out what colours they really were? this is pretty much the same about Kingdom of Heavens.

Most movies are like fastfood. easy to consume and for the masses. You can't expect the Happy Meals to be suited for consumate observers like yourself

Hongkie ( actually alfred, but with the censure on online opinion, best not to put my full name of alfred tang ho keung)


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