Analyze the film Kingdom of Heaven as a Post 911 social document. You might simply begin by asking yourself how a story about a Christian/Muslim conflict set during the crusades would be considered controversial (in the United States) in a post 911 world. The answer to this question can be developed into a complex argument. You will need to include the reasons and justifications for your claim.
Consider the following in your research and written work:
• Explain Ridley Scott’s argument about the relationship between religion and war in the context of the film.
• Do some historical research, or look at some film reviews that have addressed the film as a political statement. These reviews do exist. Avoid blogs.
• Evaluate Scott’s depiction of Christians and Muslims in film. Does he favor one side over the other? How is this evident in the film? How do these characterizations serve to support Scott’s message? Be specific, and don’t forget to interpret visual images in the film.
• Consider the definition of “humanism” and explain its function in Kingdom of Heaven. Why is Balian’s humanism so important to the film? What does it enable Scott to do in terms of creating a commentary on religion and extremism? Analyze specific scenes and dialogue to support your ideas.
• How does the agnosticism of many of the characters in the film inform the film’s argument?
Finally, many reviews -especially those in religious publications and journals- attack the film for its historical inaccuracies. We have discussed how these inaccuracies serve the film’s argument. Evaluate whether these inaccuracies serve a more complex argument, or ultimately undermine the film’s integrity. Remember, Scott isn’t making a documentary. He doesn’t have to tell the truth.
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