The Crusades: Crescent and the Cross (3-Disc) [DVD]
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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 counter-attack 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 skilful 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
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Top Customer Reviews
The inclusion of a good number of famous crusade historians, from both sides of the religious divide, gives the series an authority sadly lacking in so many other documentaries. This should have been a winner then, but the narration entirely lets it down. Firstly, it's done by an American who insists on pronouncing everything incorrectly. Secondly, the content of the narration is often at odds with the crusade experts and, indeed, with itself. It also seems to have been written by someone following their own agenda rather than simply sticking with the history, which is very unhelpful. Unnecessary superlatives are the order of the day and many statements are made without context.
Having said all that, anyone watching this who has no or little knowledge of the crusades will definitely come away much better informed, if with the occassional odd idea.Read more ›
One major negative, a perpetual dirge of Gregorian chant/church music throughout the DVD which was too loud, tedious and distracting.
What an educational Journey this was.
With the acting intertwined with the documentary side of things it gave a different dimension and made it more realistic and believable.
Well worth getting and adding it into your library.
Series like this make you want to type in 'The history channel dvds' into Amazon and start collecting...
Also, putting the four part series on three discs is fraudulent - each episode was 45 minutes or so long, so one, maximum two, would have been enough. Selling it as a three-disc series implies you're getting much more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The contend is OK and interesting. The fighting scenes are quiet ridiculous bad acting. The image quality however is on the level of VHS or something the like.Published 6 months ago by Kees de Wit
Really great documentary and excellent service from the seller.Published 8 months ago by Derek wilson
While this is entertaining and educational at once, I bought it to watch with my son. The degree of violence, however, makes it inappropriate for children. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Andy N