Kingdom of double standards

Thanks to Dave Buckna for pointing me to “Dr.” Ted Baehr’s latest missive, this time on the alleged biases and historical inaccuracies of Kingdom of Heaven. Buckna states:

It would be interesting to compare the number of historical inaccuracies in “The Kingdom of Heaven” with the number of historical inaccuracies in “The Patriot”. Funny, I don’t recall anyone in the U.S. Christian media writing anything about “Brits Get a Bad Rap in The Patriot.”

Buckna then links to this classic article from Salon on The Patriot‘s wildly unhistorical demonization of the British.

I assume my own review wouldn’t falsify Buckna’s point, since it was written for the Canadian Christian media. But FWIW, I have always found it interesting that, when Christianity Today linked to my review of The Patriot five years ago, they made a point of alluding to a possible reason for my Anglophilia (“But Peter T. Chattaway, a Canadian writing for BC Christian News (the BC is for British Columbia), complains that the film’s rah-rah nationalism is mere pandering, achieved by unfairly vilifying the British”).

I am also somewhat bemused by the way some Protestants, who in an earlier age might have nodded their approval of a film in which Catholics are depicted violently enforcing their religion’s control of a political territory, have been inclined to defend the religious wars of that era. Maybe it’s my Anabaptist heritage speaking, but I can’t say it bothers me all that much if the film portrays the Knights Templar and their ilk as religious fanatics.

AUG 15 2007 UPDATE: I just realized, a slightly different version of my review of The Patriot is also up at ChristianWeek.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14715376140228118442 Jeffrey Overstreet

    Hmm. How about THIS, from an American review on a Christian-perspective Web site:

    “Right away, Colonel William Tavington (Jason Issacs), the British officer who leads the offense against our hero, is shown to be a sneering rebel, a madman with authority, a sadistic butcher who does not follow the codes of British military conduct. He throws down the gauntlet early, murdering a young boy, one of Martin’s sons. Later he smilingly rounds up a whole village and burns them to death. All he needs is a big black cape and heavy, distorted breathing.

    “It’s true, there were some heinous war crimes in the Revolutionary War. This does not make it fair, however, to stack the deck in this film and call it “historicism”. Making Darth Tavington the sole focus of our aggression turns our sympathies with inappropriate force and prejudice against the British. Other Brits—including the orderly Cornwallis— are shown grumbling about Tavington’s methods. But Tavington is still the central representative of the British in this film. Everything leans toward giving him what he has coming.

    “This burning of the villagers in a church is, according to a recent article on Salon.com, a crime that the Nazis committed once, not something the British did. Having used “artistic license” so freely, Emmerich and Rodat are sure to have the audience up in arms, shouting for the death of Darth Tavington. No need to waste time with a historically accurate portrayal when you can just embellish and make the enemy like the Nazis at their peak. That’ll rile the crowd up real good.”

    That’s from lookingcloser.org.

  • http://http//decentfilms.com SDG

    Oo oo! Me too! Me too! From another American Christian-perspective site’s Patriot review:

    “All right, it’s all very well for a film to point out that men sometimes resort to brutality when sorely provoked. But what about a film that goes to great lengths to provoke a man simply in order to get to the brutality? And what about the ridiculously monstrous caricatures on the other side who are necessary to bring about the needed provocations (and then of course to suffer the desired brutality)?…

    10. Enemy officers are brutal and lawless.
    11. Unless they are effete powdered aristocrats.
    12. When you get right down to it, even the effete powdered aristocrats are really brutal and lawless.”

    That’s from Decent Films!

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