But that is not really what prompted today's post. The trigger was, instead, the film Kingdom of Heaven, which I saw on TV on Wednesday. The film takes place during the Crusades and centres on a young, noble (in the moral sense of the word) knight who goes to the Holy Land to help the Crusade and ends up discovering that the Christian rulers there are worse than the Muslims they are fighting. I was vaguely aware of the film when it came out (I was already on my trip) but it didn't interest me then, but now, having travelled through the Holy Land where the film is set, and knowing more of the history, I was curious to see how it would be portrayed and whether it would live up to my pedantic standards. The general historical events and background are true enough - the Crusades, Saladin, the battles and so on. I don't even mind that the hero is very different from the real life personage (I accept artistic licence) as the real history is very complicated and full of double-crossings, intrigues, marriages, divorces and shady deals (far too much for your average American moviegoer to comprehend in a single sitting). Anyway, none of the historical accounts can be 100% relied upon. No, what really annoyed me was the blatant disregard of geography. The film shows Orlando Bloom's noble toiling in the desert on his lands at Ibelin, completely oblivious to the fact that Ibelin is situated in rather green, lush countryside less than 10km from the Mediterranean. Similarly the castle of Kerak is shown as rising up on a low mound surrounded by flat desert on all sides, when in fact its on a spur with canyons on three sides and a dense little town below it. And Jerusalem? what a joke. In the film the hero goes to Golgotha to be alone with god, and proceeds to climb a small, secluded hill off in the countryside. In fact Golgotha would have been within Jerusalem's city walls at that time and there had been a giant cathedral on the site since the 4th century. I could go on, but you get the picture. I find it exasperating that they would put so much effort into recreating the clothes, weapons and other paraphernalia of the time and yet they couldn't be bothered to actually go out to the places they were supposedly filming to get a feel for the landscape and topography (maybe special effects computers can't deal with hills?). It just killed the film for me (not that it was any good to begin with).
If there are any aspiring film-makers out there I hope you read this and take note and do some proper research when you shoot your films.
P.S. Just to show you what an anal pedant I am I've trawled the net to find pictures of Kerak castle from the film and the real life castle. See if you can tell the difference.