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The History Channel Presents The Crusades - Crescent & The Cross

89 customer reviews

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(Dec 26, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

THE CRUSADES: CRESCENT & THE CROSS presents the epic battle between two Middle Age superpowers: the Christian Crusaders and the Muslims. Fought over two centuries, the conflict decided the fate of the Holy Land of the Middle East. Only a tiny strip of land, just a few hundred miles long, it contained the ultimate prize, the city of Jerusalem.

The documentary is driven by the key personalities of the First, Second and Third Crusades, the popes, kings, sultans and knights who, in the name of God, ruthlessly fought for land and power. Experience the murder, treachery, and bloodshed of this legendary chapter of history through the eyes of key historical figures such as Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, King Louis VII and Nur al-Din.

With breath-taking CGI-enhanced visuals, heart-pounding reenactments, and stunning footage from rarely-seen locations THE CRUSADES: CRESCENT & THE CROSS brings the first three Crusades alive for a new generation in conflict.

DVD Features: Timeline; Behind-the-Scenes Featurette History in the Making: The Crusades ; Bonus Documentary The Knights Templar ; 16:9 Widescreen Format; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

The Christian invaders were regarded as infidels. The Arabs were scorned as lawless pagans. The Westerners saw their quest as literally a sanctified crusade, while the Muslims launched their own holy war, called a jihad, in retaliation. Sound familiar? It should, because although the events depicted in the History Channel's The Crusades - Crescent & The Cross took place nearly a thousand years ago, they are but a distant mirror to what's going on in the Middle East right now. This two-part, three-hour program, released here on two discs (the second includes over an hour of bonus material), impressively details all three Crusades, starting in the late 11th Century, when Pope Urban II dispatched a huge force to reclaim Jerusalem, which had been under Muslim control for some 400 years. For the knights and others who made the journey, it was a noble spiritual quest, not to mention an escape from Europe's petty wars and famines; in the end, the fact that many of them were greedy butchers who murdered Muslims, Jews, and even other Christians indiscriminately (sometimes even eating the flesh of the vanquished) detracted not at all from their conviction that they were acting in the name of God. Of course, so were the Muslims, who, after the bloody first crusade succeeded in seizing the holy city, mounted a massive counterattack under leaders like Nur al-din and his son Saladin, who managed to take back Jerusalem (from whence Mohammed was said to have ascended to heaven) and hold on to it through the failed second and third crusades, the latter led by England's Richard the Lionheart.

All of this is presented by way of techniques that will be recognizable to History Channel buffs. They include modern-day historians, who re-trace the routes of the crusaders and examine the ancient sites where the action took place, as well as actors who portray characters of the time (chroniclers, knights, and others); numerous re-enactments, aided by excellent cinematography and skillful use of CGI (whereby a few dozen extras could be made to look like many thousands), vividly illustrate the battles and other events that took place during this roughly 200-year period. Add to that a bonus documentary about the Knights Templar (the soldier-monks in charge of protecting the Kingdom of Jerusalem) and a decent "making of" documentary, and you have an absorbing, enlightening look at events that prove one thing above all: the more things change, the more they stay the same. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: The History Channel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BB1520
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,518 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

172 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Margaret A. Foster on October 26, 2005
Format: DVD
I received this advanced review copy from the promotional company working for the History Channel. I must admit that they sent me a very nice package and a bonus disk. This is an eight sided box, like a two pound box for candy - lovely print job. The two disks are contained in a book inside the box, along with a CD disk of photos - some from the production, others are historical pictures of either the key players or events/places. A very nice package, though it will not fit on your DVD shelf. Also, one of the pages in my book was stapled in upside down. Still, a nice presentation. Not sure if this product will be the same when released.

Apart from this, the work itself is very interesting. I sat through the entire production and was never bored or antsy. Actually, I found myself marveling at what the History Channel has done here.

The program covers the First Crusade on the first disk. There is an examination of the causes of the initial conflict, examining cultural issues, Religious issues, European social and political unrest, Church influences, financial issues and points of conflict in the Moslem and Byzantine world. While Religion is acknowledged as the primary cause of the conflict, they also do not ignore key issues that lead to these conflicts. There is also discussion of Urban's "selling of the Crusades". Very well put together and an in depth examination of the events leading up to the First Crusade.

Included also are maps of the areas, modern day images of the cities today as well as places that have survived, and those that have not.

There is a lot of information to sift through here.
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77 of 95 people found the following review helpful By E. Willaims on October 19, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A lot of people watched this and hail Saladin as a holy warrior. Even one of the Muslim commentators seemed to make excuses for his vicious bahavior, saying "you had to be back then".

The main point of the movie is that in the first Crusade the Christians "took back" Jerusalem from the Muslims. In the second Crusade, the muslims "took back" Jerusalem from the Christians. In the third Crusade the Christians tried unsuccessfully to retake Jerusalem back.

This documetary left out one key point: Jerusalem belonged to NEITHER the Christians NOR the Muslims. The city of Jerusalem was originally inhabited by the Jews, but that fact seems to have gotten lost somewhere.

Both Saladin and Richard I commited vicous crimes and they both murdered thousands of people. People seem to forget that Saladin probably murdered as many Knights Templar and Hospitalars as Richard did Muslims. They wer both cunning, vicious and excellent military Strategists. The documentary also states something that was probably true: After Years of Fighting each other they learned to respect each other as generals.

This movie tried to be as objective as possible but there was a lot of Christian-bashing here, not that it wasn't deserved. Tariq whatever his name was seemed to be on a Crusade to make the Christians look as evil as possible. He defends Saladin's actions, when the fact is that both generals committed many what we call today "war crimes". After saying all this, I still say it was very educational and enjoyable.

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183 of 235 people found the following review helpful By Captain Waters on December 23, 2009
Format: DVD
This is essentially revisionist history. It has some well made reenactments with good costumes and sets, but it doesn't spend much time on details that might present an unbiased history of the Crusades. For example, there was no mention of the fact that the Muslim armies had conquered the Iberian Peninsula and had been actively trying to conquer the Franks for 3 centuries. The 'learned historians' that are interviewed only seem to know about the improper activities of the Crusaders. The bonus material includes a timeline that repeats the same shallow history, and a segment of "In Search of History" about The Knights Templar that perpetuates some of the sordid rumors about the order without giving a lot of good factual information.

A much better introduction to the Crusades is given in "The Knights Templar" directed by James Wignall. It gives as much information about the Crusades with factual information and without the anti-Christian propaganda. Of course, one must read extensively to gain a reasonable understanding of history, and Piers Paul Read has written a good history of the Templars which helps to explain much about the Crusades.

The most interesting aspect of the "Crescent & the Cross" video is its use of modern media propaganda. It has fairly authentic costumes and sets for the reenactments, which makes it an attractive spectacle. It has vignettes of Christian and Muslim chroniclers tell the story. Each time we see the Christian chronicler he is dirty & disheveled, in a darkened setting and often without anyone around him. By contrast, the Muslim Chroniclers, sitting in colorful venues, have enthusiastic audiences listening to wonderful tales of Islamic heroism.
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The History Channel Presents The Crusades - Crescent & The Cross
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