Everything I needed to know about Muslims I learned from Cecil B. DeMille

Editorialby Richard Senate

In 1935 Paramount Pictures released Cecil B. DeMilles epic film “The Crusades” . It loosely told the story of the Third Crusade, sometimes called the Kings Crusade, with England’s King Richard the Lionheart. But, in the finest Hollywood tradition, the great religious war was reduced to a love story between Richard (played by Henry Wilcoxon) and his young wife (played by Loretta Young). But, in all the talking there is a nice little section in the middle of the film that redeems its topic.

In that part, the old monk who lead the Crusade is captured by the Muslims in the city of Acre. The Crusades organize an attack on the walled city—they come on singing with tall banners with crosses on them. The appearance of the army sends panic to the defenders as they run around saying “The Christians are coming!” Some are seen praying, bowing to Mecca. Then their leader orders the captured monk tied to a stake and hosted above the battlements. “Show them their Holy Man!” He orders then he shouts down from the walls telling the Christian Army to withdraw or they will kill their hostage. Sound familiar? King Richard asks the old Monk what he should do? The monk just makes a sign of the cross and instructs them saying: “In this sign ye shall conquer!”

At that point the Muslims shoot the old man full of arrows! If they were thinking this would intimidate the Crusaders they were wrong. It just ticked them off more! The banners part and the catapults and rolling siege towers are called in. There is a montage of a huge battle as only DeMille could do. In the battle the Muslims are not depicted as wimps, they fight hard but they are no match for King Richard. After talking the walls, the Crusaders capture the gates and lower the draw bridge. A Muslim army assembles in the street to defend the town but armored knights just ride over them and victory goes to the Christians. The character of Saladin, the leader of the Muslims, is portrayed in a positive light (as he was in life). By the way, Saladin was an Islamic Kurd.

The film tells me that the Islamic people will use hostages, will do all they can to win, but they can be opposed —and if they are opposed by dedicated men, they can be defeated. Unlike Hollywood History, the real Third Crusade was a defeat for the Christians who failed to take Jerusalem. But, it gave me a good idea about the Islamic people and their motivations. Though, flawed, in many ways the film is accurate. The actions today with ISIS in Syria and Iraq seem to show the very worst side of this new Jihad Culture and their motivations. If only we had a Cecil B. DeMille to depict today’s confrontation between the Middle East and the West. If only we had a King Richard to take the field and opposes their barbarism?


Ian Keith as Saladin – Sultan of Islam Henry Wilcoxon as Richard the Lionhearted

Richard’s entertaining Ghost Hunter Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-Senate-Ghost-Hunter/122903611086691

Richard Senate is a Citizens Journalist living in Ojai.


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