Kingdom of Heaven

Curtsy to newly-discovered (to her) Galley Slaves for pointing out Mark Steyn's review of Kingdom of Heaven (use this link and scroll down to it). RC2 particularly likes this line, about which more in a moment:
"Thus does Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven proceed, from one birdbrained ahistorical cliché to another, until at last Balian of Ibelin (the impeccably dishevelled Orlando Bloom) comes face to face with Saladin and threatens to destroy Jerusalem’s holy sites, all of them, mosque and sepulchre alike — ‘Your holy places, ours, everything that drives men mad.’ Hold that thought, because certainly nobody held it in 1187 — and in the false tinkle of that line you hear everything that’s wrong with this movie."

Doesn't that capture the problem w/ Hollywood period movies exactly? (See RC2's ironclad rule of acting when the director cares about spectacle.) Directors will spend millions of dollars researching and re-creating historical conditions down to the lint in the pockets, but invest nothing whatsoever in researching the manners and behavior of people in those times. Hollywood period pieces usually seem more like science fiction to RC2 --in that it always seems that an utterly contemporary hero and heroine are simply beamed somehow into another place and time. At least Ridley Scott is trying to make a point, however tiresome it is to be lectured by such people. Often enough, however, these cultural anachronisms make serious movies unintentionally funny.

Two examples.
1. Remember Sex in a Boat, --I mean, Titanic? Loved the scientifically done iceberg and sinking scenes. But the whole easy sex out of wedlock plot was ridiculous and untrue to the time period. Particularly improbable was one scene when fleeing lovers Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio are making their escape from the evil fiance, and lovely well-bred Kate turns to give fiance the finger. Lovely. No, James, that's a post-1968 gesture, my friend.
2. A bad movie that haunts RC2's adolescence was Tarzan:The Legend of Greystoke. I remember it being lush and beautiful during the discover-the-wild-man in Africa scenes. Then they bring this man who has been socialized as an ape into a fine Victorian household to be both studied and civilized. At a pivotal moment, Tarzan, in full monkey mode, hops --swinging his arms and barking-- onto the heroine's bed as her maid dresses her hair, and begins grooming her, monkey -style (no, this is not a euphemism. I mean he was searching for lice).

What would a true Victorian maiden have done under the circumstances? Fainted or shrieked or both --and brought the men of the household to her rescue against this indignity, right? She would have thought the behavior vulgar and the proposed match disgusting, right? Wrong, just as any Victorian virgin would, she ordered the maid out of the room (with a breathless, "Leave us please now, Marguerite") and allowed herself to be debauched. RC2 supposes that's what happened, because at that point her father stood up and said aloud, "This movie is a piece of ______!" and marched the whole family out of the theater, to the amusement and applause of other patrons.