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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 11, 2005 /2 Iyar, 5765

Giving Hollywood hell over ‘Heaven’

By James P. Pinkerton


Was it the influential right-tilting media that crucified Ridley Scott's Crusades movie — or has America finally had it with PC #%@?



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | So the new Crusader movie, "Kingdom of Heaven," is a critical and commercial disappointment. What does that tell us about movie audiences? And about the relationship between Hollywood and history? A lot.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Kingdom" led a "lethargic charge" to the top of the box office over the weekend. But as E! noted, the big movie premiere of the same weekend last year, the unremarkable "Van Helsing," generated more than 2 1/2 times as much revenue. The poor performance by "Kingdom" is all the more remarkable because it was directed by Ridley Scott, who helmed such hits as "Alien" and "Gladiator."


So what happened? As usual, one can blame the media - the changing, more right-tilting media. More than a year ago, Cambridge University historian Jonathan Riley-Smith predicted to London's Daily Telegraph (nicknamed the "Torygraph") that the film would set forth "Osama bin Laden's version of history." That quote has rocketed around the blogosphere ever since, fueling deep suspicions about the film that were confirmed when it debuted.


The conservative Washington Times headlined that the film unspooled a "flawed history." And even more mainstream critics agreed that it leaned toward the Muslim side of the historical argument. Jack Mathews, writing in the Daily News, focused on one particular character, the Christian King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan. As Mathews put it, "The audacious choice of portraying the Muslims as righteous and chivalrous while depicting Guy's Christian knights as mad-dog warmongers should light up the phones over at the 700 Club." Scott can make any kind of movie he wants, of course, but in the middle of a war in the Middle East, he might have been wise to make his tale more fair and balanced.


But Tom Neven, a critic for Pluggedinonline, a Christian movie guide, dug deeper into the film's weakness. Describing Scott as a "self-professed agnostic," Neven lamented that "distinctly 21st century views on religion" had been imposed on the film. Thus much of the historical-religious context of the film was leached away. As Neven explained of the Christian and Muslim combatants, "as for the distinctiveness of their respective faiths, you'd never know what they were fighting about."


That was a big mistake, commercially as well as historically. By contrast, the three "Lord of the Rings" movies were huge successes, because they presented a sharp moral worldview, of good pitted against evil. Gandalf and the Hobbits vs. Sauron and the Orcs: You knew which side you were on. Yes, the "Rings" villains sometimes possessed a dangerous dark-side appeal, but the trilogy kept a distinct moral voice that audiences appreciated-indeed, yearned for.


It's easy to preserve the good-evil dichotomy in a work of complete fantasy such as "Rings." The task gets tougher when real historical events are being envisioned, and revisioned. Once upon a time, Hollywood could blithely make cowboys-and-Indians movies in which white people massacred red people, as audiences — white ones, at least — cheered.


But then came a revised history, and the general sense that Native Americans were the victims, not the enemy. That historical wheel had turned completely by 1970, when Hollywood released "Little Big Man," in which the red men were saintly, while the whites were either comical, or, in the case of Gen. George Custer, genocidal.


A similar process has been at work in regard to U.S.-Mexican history. The 1960 version of "The Alamo" starred John Wayne as an unabashedly heroic Davy Crockett. The 2004 "Alamo," on the other hand, so muddled the historical-political backdrop that there was nobody to root for — and so nobody bought a ticket.


Nowadays, historical revisionism and political correctness — and also, maybe, fear of Muslim reprisals — might make it impossible to film an epic in which "good" Christians vanquish "bad" Muslims. In which case, moviemakers will probably have to drop the whole genre, at least for American audiences. So it will be interesting to see how Hollywood handles flicks about the Iraq war.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



JWR contributor James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday. Comment by clicking here.


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