This is another recommendation. The movie is based on Jan Guillou’s trilogy called Crusades, which I promised to myself to read once in the future. I felt that the movie version, while very good, left too much of the subplots unexplained or feeling rushed. No wonder since there were three long books squeezed into one movie. I feel the novels deserved better, and I’m very much curious about what else I missed of this fascinating tale.
The story is centred on a Swedish boy called Arn who is brought up in a monastery, away from the warring factions battling for the Swedish crown. He’s taught by a former Knight Templar in the arts of war, though nobody expects that to do him any good. Yet, the boy is a good student and he enjoys learning from the French brother Guilbert, so they let him perfect his knowledge of archery and swordmanship. One important factor is his ambidexterity – which comes in handy a couple of times, no pun intended.
While Cecilia’s harsh fate seemed to be well covered in the movie, I found myself fascinated with Arn’s adventures in the Holy Land. I wanted to see more of him and of his unique relationship with Saladin. I think that may be because I saw the shorter version of the movie – the international one – and not the one from Sweden where the books were split into two longer movies.
What I loved about the movie besides the costumes and locations was the interplay of different languages – Swedish, English, Arabic, and some French. I love it when characters speak their own tongues; I can’t stomach movies where everyone speaks perfect English even though we know it can’t be possible. An example would be Valkyrie – it was painful for me to watch a movie about Germany where everyone was speaking English all the time. Imagine the Chinese shooting a movie about America and everyone on the streets suddenly spoke perfect Mandarin. It would look ridiculous, and loose all authenticity. Therefore – kudos to the authors of this movie for not making that mistake. We are all perfectly capable of reading subtitles.