Thousands of medieval Christians answer the spiritual call of the pope, take up arms, and travel to the Holy Land to defend the faith against a barbaric and militaristic Muslim foe. The war is bloody, and over time Jerusalem is won, then lost again—but the spread of Islam into Christendom is halted.
We all know the story of the Crusades. Or do we?
Ridley Scott’s film Kingdom of Heaven reverses centuries of popular portrayals of the Crusades. It shows the great Muslim military leader Saladin as articulate and circumspect. Its Christian hero is ruled by a secular conscience rather than by religious convictions. Christians are (at times) duplicitous and faithless, and Muslims are (at times) noble and godly.