Whirr2005-05-20
Kingdom of Heaven
There is a common stereotype that Communists have no sense of humor, and I often know how they feel. I seems a little sad, sometimes, that I get so bothered by the treatment of women in a Vin Diesel movie that it casts a shadow over the whole film. I mean, there were basically no women in Triple-X (the first one), and they were only present (and objectified) for a couple of scenes, but that's what I think of when I think of that movie. Well, that and the fact that Vin wore a sheep on his back the whole time.

Anyway, my point is just that is was really nice to go out and see a Dumb Action Movie Where Shit 'Splodes and not to have my visceral enjoyment of violence rained on by bad politics. Ridley Scott's politics in Kingdom of Heaven were completely (as near as I could tell) unobjectionable, even for me. They were not very complicated, and largely uncontroversial, but that's ok. Maybe there should be more movies in which the director vehemently campaigns for people to respect each other and be nice.

Scott had a big advantage (as far as I'm concerned) with this movie, because there were hardly any women in it. As soon as you have multiple genders in a movie, gender politics inevitably creep in, and it is really hard to have a movie that isn't about gender but still has good gender politics. But set the movie in the crusades, stick entirely to the military aspects thereof, and Poof! A movie with all men is essentially a movie without gender. In that respect, I think that Sibylla, Eva Green's character, was a mistake. Ridley Scott clearly didn't want to have a weak, powerless female character on screen, but there wasn't any way to actually make Sibylla powerful, so she just... cheated on her husband and looked angsty. And cut her hair. Katya was hoping (of course) that she would join a nunnery or, at the least, pull an Eowyn and kill her some Muslims, but it was not to be. She was just there for a few brief sex scenes, apparently. And a really confusing bit with a mirror? Anyway. Master & Commander resisted the urge to put in Random Women, and so was free from Gender Politics. I liked that movie, too.

Anyway, there was a lot of cool fighting, and stuff blew up, and there were lots of exaggerated "Muslims are perfectly normal people like us" moments. Saladin and King Leper-boy (who was apparently an historical figure. IRL he died within a year of the time the movie has him dying, which is really pretty good for Hollywood) were both completely committed to peace at all costs, and the evil bad guy who started all was entirely unsympathetic. Like I said, it wasn't a very controversial movie. It did come out rather strongly in favor of respect for disparate cultures and religions, which I suppose might be an objectionable stance among the members of Moledet.

I have some thoughts about the incessant repetition of male-on-male violence, but my solution is gender-blind casting, and I don't think anyone else will like it. When I'm all rich and all I'll make gender-blind movies, and we'll see how it works. If I have time, I might write more about this idea in another blog entry.
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