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Of all the wars waged in the name of God, none has ever matched the arrogance and conceit of the Christian Crusades. For nearly two centuries (1095-1291), this medieval "holy war" variously raged, sometimes so spiritually misshapen by rapaciousness, murder, and political greed that to think it all had to do with Christian faith is absurd. And really, there is no one better to dramatize such a theater of holy war than Wales-born Terry Jones, host of The Discovery Channel's Ancient Inventions and an accomplished medievalist. Best known for his absurdist contributions to all things Monty Python--he was a founding member of Monty Python's Flying Circus and cowriter of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, among others--Jones wields an uncanny ability to explain the methodologies and madness of the Crusades while not failing us his sense of humor. Jones wrote the scripts for each 50-minute presentation in the four volumes of The Crusades, which originally aired on The History Channel. His narration is not without an occasional sardonic air, almost of the roll-your-eyes type, which not only lends a skeptical perspective to a frequently misunderstood era in Western Europe, but also quite frequently editorializes the events that occurred between Pope Urban II's call for liberation of Jerusalem from the "infidels" of Islam and the embarrassing moment when officers of the fourth Crusade are conned out of its divine calling by the Venetians. While Jones's reconnaissance is sometimes oversimplified by casually not mentioning several Crusade sorties after the fourth (there were several, but by the 13th century they had become redolent of ennui and misguided commercial adventure), the technical ingenuity of the production and Jones's use of anecdote backed by academicians and preserved eyewitness accounts cinches a viewer's interest. Medieval "siege machines" are re-created to test their mettle against legends of famou
- Historic timeline
- Terry Jones biography/filmography
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So my question is what kind of documentary does it attempt to be? I think it is an attempt to be a humour informative primer on the history of the first great world war... an event that still shapes our lives. In this account "Crusades; With Terry Joens" succeeds.
True, I would have liked to seen a greater history of the Templars, and Richard the Lionheart's epic struggles with Saladin - but there really wasn't time for all of that. It covers the basics and does a good job of showing us how demanding the life of crusader must have been.
One thing that is disappointing is that this movie could have been ideal for use in High School as a brief (but entertaining) view of the Crusades. However, there are a couple of scenes that make it inappropriate - one is a scene of men sitting a round a table smoking what appears to be bongs and in disc 4 there is an extended scene of a topless women. Without these scenes it could have been a nice tool for education.