The Crusades were a series of wars between Christians and Muslims between the years 1096 and 1291. These wars were primarily centred around Jerusalem, the Holy Land for Christians, but the wars spread across many parts of the Middle East and Europe. As with any historical conflict, these events are the main source of inspiration for various forms of media, such as the films on our list, casino games such as Crusader by Elk Slotmachines, and costume design. If you’re a fan of history, you may enjoy the following film recomendations:
Kingdom of Heaven
The first movie on our list is Kingdom of Heaven, released in 2005. The film follows Balian (Orlando Bloom), a former warrior and blacksmith, in a small village near Jerusalem over 100 years after the beginning of the Crusades. Balian is dealing with losing his wife (Nathalie Cox) when a group of Crusaders enters the village. Baron Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson) approaches Balian, introduces himself as his father, and asks Balian to join them in the Crusades. Balian must decide whether to go with them and forge a new life or remain in the village he knows best.
Ironclad was released in 2011 and follows the events of King John (Paul Giamatti) in 1215, shortly after signing the Magna Carta. After being pressured into signing it by barons, aided by the Knights Templar, King John regrets his decision and turns to a Danish mercenary army to help seize back his power. While the film isn’t directly related to the Crusades, it’s set in the same period and features the Knights Templar, which are the forces used by the Christian army during the wars of the Crusades.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was released in 1991 and follows the events of the titular Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner), a nobleman who fought alongside Richard III in the Third Crusade. He is caught and put in prison in Jerusalem but manages to escape and return to England, only to find it under the tyrannical rule of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman). Robin and his band of men must fight the regime and oust the Sheriff from power.
Arn: The Knight Templar
Arn: The Knight Templar was released in Sweden in 2007, following the story of Arn (Stellan Skarsgard), the son of an important Swedish nobleman pulled into a power struggle between two warring families in the fight for the crown of Vastra Gotaland. However, Arn and his fiancee Cecilia Algotsdotter are punished for engaging in premarital relations. Arn is sentenced to a twenty-year penance, where he serves his time as a Knight’s Templar fighting in the Holy Land during the Crusades.
Valhalla Rising is a 2009 Danish film that follows the story of One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen), a mute warrior with supernatural strength held captive in the Scottish Highlands. After escaping his captors, One-Eye meets a group of Christian Norsemen and agrees to sail with them on a journey to the Holy Land during the Crusades. However, bad weather sends them off course, and they must find their way through unknown terrain.
Despite the dark subject, many great films have been made about this historical period. The movies tend to focus on the struggles of the everyday warrior, fighting in a war beyond their comprehension, emphasising the human aspect rather than the politics of the time.