Here is the video trailer and critique of the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” by CRI
This link has a much better history of the crusades film to watch
SOURCE CRI: SYNOPSIS
Kingdom of Heaven, a recent film set in the era of the Crusades, unfortunately perpetuates the false view that fanatical Christians brought war to an otherwise peaceful Muslim world. The film’s hero, Balian of Ibelin (played by Orlando Bloom) essentially represents a Hollywood version of what a Crusader should have been like: brave, concerned about the poor and underprivileged, tolerant, and not much interested in holy places in Jerusalem or in Christian doctrine—except to reject the extremism apparently caused by focusing on either one.
Real Crusaders were quite different, in that they were highly motivated by their Christian beliefs. By the late eleventh century, however, some of these beliefs had moved away from basic biblical and early church teachings. It was not their belief in absolute truth per se, but rather this mix of error with truth, along with the pressures of war, that led to some of the widely cited Crusader atrocities. Any proper attempt to evaluate the Crusades needs to measure their stated goals and actions against pertinent biblical criteria and the historical context at the time. Such an evaluation shows that the Crusades began with several noble and legitimate motives, but that these motives degenerated in practice at times. Even at their worst, however, the Crusades (only the first four are briefly considered) were little different than other wars conducted by Muslims before, during, and after the Crusades.
The recent film Kingdom of Heaven shows conflicts between Muslims and Christians in the twelfth century after the Second and before the Third Crusade, and dramatically culminates with the short siege and fall of Jerusalem to the Muslims in 1187. It is an amazing Hollywood version of the period, but it certainly is not factual history.
Among other things, it portrays Balian of Ibelin (played by Orlando Bloom) as a twenty-first-century, tolerant, sensitive hero who gained some kind of victory in the failed defense of Jerusalem, when, in fact, nearly all Christians at the time considered this loss to be a tremendous disaster.
More significantly, the film’s portrayal of Reynald of Chatillon, the French knight who controlled Karak castle and raided caravans that were going to Mecca, suggests that his actions were typical of most Crusaders who were trying to spread Christianity. The implication is that men like Reynald brought war to an otherwise peaceful, even idyllic, Muslim area. This cinematic image falls short of the truth in important ways, because wars were widespread throughout the Muslim world long before the Crusaders arrived and the Crusaders did not seek to convert Muslims by force.1
Such misconceptions, nevertheless, have contributed to the situation today in which “the Crusades” have become virtually synonymous with supposed Christian cruelty and intolerance. The Crusades actually were motivated in part by the desire of Christians in the West to help fellow Christians in the East. Those who went to the East suffered and often died in their attempts to help. Even if those attempts were misguided, unnecessary, or unsuccessful, there was little cruelty or intolerance in that aspect of the Crusades. Of course, the Crusades did involve warfare—often French, Norman, or other Christians against Turkish, Arab, or other Muslims—and that warfare brought death and destruction to all sides involved, as does war in any era. The Crusading era also included regrettable cases in which Christians and Muslims engaged in criminal, sinful, and wicked behavior apart from the fighting itself.
How can people begin to understand and evaluate this complex historical mix correctly? I believe that to conduct a proper evaluation of it, people should begin with the biblical and theological criteria for a legitimate war that were in use at the time, and then should consider whether the Crusades were conducted in harmony with such Christian teachings and with their own stated goals.
A JUST WAR?
Church fathers such as Ambrose and Augustine argued that such biblical texts as John 18:26; Romans 13:3 4; and 1 Peter 2:13 14 provided justification for governments to use force, including war, as “an agent to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4 NIV). These and other church leaders since the fourth century approved of Christians serving in the military and participating in war, at least under some circumstances, based on such passages as Matthew 8:5 7, Luke 3:14; 6:15; 14:31; and Acts 10 11. Various other views had existed among Christians, to be sure. The spectrum ranged from pacifism or nonresistance to offensive, preventive wars. By the time of the Crusades, however, many Christian writers and thinkers accepted a middle position in this spectrum, which was often called the just-war view. According to Augustine, this view argued that a war was legitimate if it (1) had a just cause (primarily that of defense); (2) had a just intention; (3) was a last resort; (4) was declared by a legal government or proper authority; (5) had limited objectives; (6) was fought with appropriate and proportionate means; and (7) ensured the protection of noncombatants and included proper treatment of the wounded and of prisoners.2 The first five criteria relate primarily to legitimate reasons for going to war in the first place while the last two provide standards for the proper conduct of those who are engaged in war. They can be applied fairly well to the stated motives for the Crusades and to the actual conduct of the Crusaders.