Cineram: Kingdom of Heaven (Part I)

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

Kingdom of Heaven

By Mike Derderian

The cross I am wearing around my neck is burning, my flesh is peeling and my bones are revealed. So instead of the cross, I wished if the Albatross about my neck was hung. I am appalled by the atrocities committed by the hands of my Christian brethren in their search for the so-called truth.

Truth does not permit the desecration of God’s words and shoot wounded people in mosques for it is not the path that leads to the kingdom of heaven. I saw an old man mashing a loaf of bread into crumbs. He placed the morsels on a concrete wall for the birds to feed on. From a moving bus’s window I saw another old man—this one was leaning on a cane. Walking towards a car that stopped at the traffic light, the gray haired man reached out to the driver with an open palm in hope for a few piasters.

Pain and suffering is all I see; yet, men find time to feed animals. A week ago I heard that a brother slit the throat of his sister after she dishonored her family name. Tears streamed from a lamb’s eyes as it was led to slaughter so how do you think that woman felt when the cold, heartless blade of her brother’s dagger caressed her soiled flesh. Who gave him the right to take what the Lord Almighty had created?

I know that my editor will find my words paradoxical for a week ago we had a discussion about one’s willingness to take the life of his enemy in wartime. I recall telling him that I would; however, now I know that I don’t have the right to do so and if this is heaven I’d rather burn in hell and pay the devil his dues. So I ask thee my dear reader where will you and I go to purge our sins?

No, not to Jerusalem for there they have enough sins that can turn any sacred mausoleum to a worldly purgatory inhibited by people who await their turn to get to the divine express’s gateway that will lead them to the kingdom of heaven.

“What is Jerusalem worth?” Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom) anxiously asked Saladin (Ghassan Massoud), who indifferently answered, “Nothing.” But as Saladin walked away from Balian he abruptly looked back and yelled, “Everything!”

In Ridley Scott’s controversial epic Kingdom of Heaven those who love to brand Arabs and Muslims as bloodthirsty terrorist will definitely choke with a piece of popcorn. So we advise those who hate us to take a bottle of water just in case a fatal blockage hits their rusty old windpipes no sooner they see Saladin on the silver screen.

Now, despite the fact that I’m Armenian, who was proudly assembled in Jordan, I hate it when western “philosophers, historians and scholars” attack my fellow Muslims and dub them as brutal barbarians, especially in prejudiced films that transmit nothing but hate against them.

You sow what you reap, and what you reap is hate. Moreover, corner a cat and it will definitely claw you and just because Scott dared to stand with Arabs and present their point of view, his film is dubbed “false” and as the Crusades “expert” Jonathan Riley-Smith says: “It’s basically Osama bin Laden’s version of history.”

I never knew that Bin Laden was an avid history student but he, unlike Scott, was certainly artistically poor in directing his videos. I mean if you notice the writing credits at the end of Kingdom of Heaven you won’t find his name next to William Monahan, who, unlike Bin Laden, is accredited for writing the script.

I find it amazing how much hate and prejudice against Arabs can be found in Internet posted articles like in an article by a Debbie Schlussel, who bluntly and obviously attacked Scott’s work and Saladin, saying: “Scott is a serial killer of truth—giving immortality to 1,000 lies—in this propaganda film.”

She further added: “Unlike his portrayal in ‘Kingdom’, Saladin sent poisoned wine and flour to a Greek leader to distribute to Crusaders. Being a Kurd fought violently with rival Shi’ite Muslims—dissecting one of their leaders and keeping his hands and head as trophies. Persecuted Jews and Christians and denied them even the basic dignity of riding on horses or mules and humiliated them by only allowing them ride on donkeys and painful packsaddles. He also sowed the seeds for Muslim Crusades, resulting in the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Christians.”

In an article published by the Daily Star, Ramsay Short wrote that Scott said: “You know I showed the final film to an important Muslim in New York—Dr Hamid Dabashi, Professor of Hagop Kevorkian Iranian Studies at New York’s Columbia University—and he loved it. He called it the best portrayal of Saladin he had seen.”

In next week’s column we’ll continue with my own review of Kingdom of Heaven; so until then memorize Godfrey of Ibelin’s (Liam Neeson) words to his bastard son Balian: “Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Speak the truth, always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath.”

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