In some of the reviews written by various scholars who specialize in the field of the medieval period, certain criticisms arose in regards to the various aspects of the film. Some of these areas of concern were the historic accuracy of the film, the political correctness of its allegations, and the fear that the film itself would reinvigorate long-standing animosity between Christians and Muslims.
While some of the scholars have historical sources to back their words, some are simply voicing their opinions behind the guise of defending historical accuracy when depicting actual events in Hollywood films. One of the most fanatic of these scholars that speak out against the film is Jonathan Riley-Smith, a professor of History at the University of Cambridge. He states that the film does nothing more than reinforce misconceptions that state that the Crusades were nothing more than a medieval attempt at colonialism.
While it is true that the film never gives an ultimate purpose as to why the Europeans have arrived, the general framework of knowledge that is needed prior to viewing the film asserts that the Crusades began as a Religious expedition of sorts, not a territorial adventure like Smith would suggest. Another critic of the film is Jonathan Phillips from the University of London. Phillips suggests that the film is made in a manner so that the Templars are almost always depicted in a negative light. Their brutality and recklessness seems to be derived from a general lack of intelligence.
While there were certainly follies that befell the Templars during their involvement in the Crusades, the simple fact that they were ordained by the Pope himself and then swore vocation to the protection of the pilgrims and the Holy Land itself; argues against the films allegation that the Crusaders were nothing more than a rag-tag group of land hungry barbarians. While it is true that the film does depict many events and situations poorly from a historical viewpoint, some of the undertones used throughout the film give an astonishingly positive outlook regarding the future of the Middle East.
As French Author Amin Maalouf said “The film goes against religious fanaticism very clearly. All that goes against hatred, fanaticism and systematic opposition between those two worlds is welcome. ” While it is true historically that the Crusades were especially bloody and cruel, the movies suggestion that there was a level of honor among the warring parties gives a small level of hope to a rather tense situation.
Kingdom of Heaven, is in no way historically accurate, but the roots of the film do shed light on the historic events based around time of the third Crusade. Hollywood will never produce a film that isn’t refuted by historians. The simple fact that Hollywood focuses on, as Professor Thomas Madden of St. Louis University said “19th Century Romanticism”, cannot and should not allow for an accurate representation of historic events.