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The Crusades


Adventure / Drama / History / War

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Ann Sheridan Photo
Ann Sheridan as Christian Slave Girl
John Carradine Photo
John Carradine as Leopold - Duke of Austria / A French King / A Wise Man
C. Aubrey Smith Photo
C. Aubrey Smith as The Hermit
Loretta Young Photo
Loretta Young as Berengaria - Princess of Navarre
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.13 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 5 min
P/S 13 / 47
2.09 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 5 min
P/S 17 / 78

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Steffi_P8 / 10

"I've come through blood to your holy city"

Having witnessed the flop of his last few contemporary dramatic pictures, Cecil B. DeMille made a pledge to the public that from now on he would only make epics. True to his word, he strove to make each successive picture more stupendous than the last. He had made some very effective shoestring epics in the poverty-stricken early 30s, but by 1935 the worst of the depression was over and DeMille could at last be reunited with the big budget.

While DeMille had proved on Sign of the Cross (1932) and Cleopatra (1934) that he could make a big picture without masses of extras or impressive sets, he certainly knows how to make the most of those assets when he does have them. It is in The Crusades that we see the development of the style of presentation that he employed for all his subsequent epics. Rather than bombard us with the colossal, he likes to gradually reveal the vastness of a place by slowly and smoothly pulling the camera back. During these moves he usually has an extra or two move horizontally across the frame at a similar pace to the camera, giving the manoeuvre extra grace and momentum. Then there are the battle scenes, tense and frenzied creations of Anne Bauchen's superb editing. These are similar to the ones in Cleopatra, but far more effective, not because of the higher production values, but because the shots are held for longer and their sequencing is better timed.

And while DeMille clearly loves the massive crowd shot, he has enough sense to shrink the space and simplify the setting when it comes to key dialogue scenes. Compared to the busy outdoor locations many of the interiors are quite plain, which helps to focus us entirely on the actors, their expressions and their words. The transitions to these dramatic moments are often very smooth, with the drop of a tent flap or simply a change of angle to frame the actors against a bare wall. DeMille was an expert in turning the spectacle on and off, as it were, according to the demands of the narrative.

Given the above, it's a pity that, like most DeMille pictures of this era, The Crusades is dramatically rather weak. The dialogue is bland, and most of the characters are lazily-written stereotypes. In the early scenes, there seems to have been this attempt to cram in as many "Olde Englande" accessories as possible, with a cheeky minstrel, a burly blacksmith, the king and his court all hanging out together. Mind you, there is at least a fairly decent character arc in that King Richard is portrayed as a kind of medieval cad who joins the crusade for ulterior motives, but is eventually humbled by his experiences. It's also a refreshingly mature approach to make Saladin an honourable foe, although there is of course still the obligatory moustachioed villain in the form of some anachronistic minor king (played by Joseph Schildkraut, naturally).

After having suffered Henry Wilcoxon's wooden turn as Mark Anthony in Cleopatra, it's a major disappointment to see him again in a leading role. You might wonder why DeMille so persistently cast amateurs like Wilcoxon, until you realise he selected players primarily for their physicality, their talent being of secondary concern. In this light it makes sense for Wilcoxon, with his prominent brow and broad shoulders, to play a king. And although Joseph Schildkraut was, as it happens, a very good actor, DeMille repeatedly cast him as these Judas figures because of his thin face and piercing eyes.

But this is DeMille. Script and cast will always play second fiddle to the director's showmanship. Despite all the baloney and anachronism, his visual style is on top form here. The Crusades is like a stained-glass window in a church. It will not reach us on an emotional, human level, but it is full of grace and majesty. Yes, DeMille is often called a Victorian moralist, but in his presentation and imagery he was practically medieval. And we should forgive him, because he did it so well.

Reviewed by Ron Oliver10 / 10

Historical Spectacle - DeMille Style

A playboy king & a beautiful princess. A holy hermit & a sacred mission. Intrigue & romance & sin & spectacle. In fact, another Cecil B. DeMille history lesson.

This time, DeMille takes on THE CRUSADES, a highly complex military & political enterprise that actually played out over 200 years. He focuses on one episode: The Third Crusade & England's King Richard the Lionheart's thrust to claim Jerusalem & the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks in 1188-1192. Interestingly enough, DeMille gets a lot of his historical facts correct, but he does spend quite a bit of time detailing Richard's lustful, wanton ways.

Literature & film have tended to wildly romanticize Richard. In historical fact, he was a bad king interested primarily in his own glory. He spent only 6 months of his reign in Britain, he bankrupted the Treasury with his Crusading schemes and he abandoned his young wife. But such is the power of Romance that he is generally seen as the beau ideal of kingliness.

Henry Wilcoxon is a good, sturdy, if unspectacular, Richard. Loretta Young is beautiful, as always, as the Princess he marries. Sir C. Aubrey Smith is magnificent as the Holy Hermit who is the spiritual leader of the Crusade. Others in the fine cast are Alan Hale, Joseph Schildkraut, Mischa Auer & John Carradine (pay close attention to find him).

As a master of spectacle, DeMille really comes through towards the end of the film with the siege & capture of Acre (north of present day Haifa in Israel).All the stops are pulled out to show the full panoply & horror of mediaeval battle.

Reviewed by marcin_kukuczka7 / 10

No history lesson but interesting look at different aspect of DeMille's genius

After the release of Ridley Scott's KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and 70 years after the premiere of DeMille's CRUSADES, I found it interesting to see the film. Cecil B DeMille is usually associated with ancient or biblical epics like TEN COMMANDMENTS, CLEOPATRA, KING OF KINGS or THE SIGN OF THE CROSS. However, after the two great epics of the early 1930s, he made a movie about a different historical period, the infamous crusades that aimed at protecting the Holy Land from the Muslim "infidels". The problem with this film, however, is that it looks historical but contains serious historical inaccuracies. Therefore, it cannot be treated as a serious historical epic and it is not a history lesson whatsoever. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting movie being an authentic look at DeMille's talents and a real 1930s movie. Consequently, it can still touch some of the 21 century viewers, particularly classic movie fans.

CHARACTERS: Most of the names that we hear in THE CRUSADES are historical. They are, however, showed in a different perspective and addressed to the audiences of that time. DeMille calls our attention foremost to Richard the Lionheart (Henry Wilcoxon) and his lovely wife princess Berengaria (Loretta Young). Richard is a man of courage, a king who, unlike other kings, is close to his people. But, he joins the crusade due to entirely different reasons than other kings. He does not have any faith in the cross he is to wear but wants to escape marriage with Alice (Katherine DeMille),the sister of Philip, king of France. On the way to the Holy Land, he meets the love of his life, Berengaria, a very noble and pure lady who, in the long run, changes Richard into a peacemaker and believer. These two characters are very well developed and their plot has much to say to today's viewer: the love between a man and a woman does not have to be based on sex only. Their love is mostly a spiritual love rather than sexual one (so appreciated by Medieval people). It is showed a bit humorously in the moment when Richard dares jump into his wife's bed, dedicated to John, Matthew, Luke and Mark... Another character that needs mentioning is the Hermit (C.Aubrey Smith). This is a man of great courage and faith whose sole aim in life is the cross. "Take the Cross to your hearts," as he says to the people in England gathered to join the crusade is a particularly powerful moment.

CAST: Even though Henry Wilcoxon plays the main role, he is not that good in this movie. As a matter of fact, I far more liked his performance in CLEOPATRA (1934). His acting, behavior of a proud man suits Antony very well but does not suit Richard that well. Stars who deserve highest attention in this movie are C.Aubrey Smith as the Hermit, Ian Keith as Saladin, and Joseph Schildkraut as Conrad, Marquis of Montferrat. Smith memorably presents a stereotypical hermit (this face and this voice!),Keith stresses Saladin's wisdom and an indefatigable desire to defend his religion. He shines in the scene when visiting the royal assembly. Finally Schildkraut undeniably deserves careful attention in his magnificent portrayal of conspiring Conrad. It is true that his role is distorted historically, but he does, in this performance alone, a terrific job. Loretta Young's performance, however, is far from masterpiece. Sometimes, she is sweeter than chocolate with sugar.

DIFFERENT DeMILLE: It is noticeable that THE CRUSADES, though an epic, concentrates more on message rather than lavish sets and costumes. As a result, DeMille is less noticeable than in lavish CLEOPATRA or THE SIGN OF THE CROSS. What we get here is the story, vivid characters, message of peace. That is very important to state since a lot of people associate DeMille ONLY with sets, visual effects, costumes and bathes. Here, he gives something more. It is true that there are monumental moments, like the siege of Acre or a touching scene of crusaders leaving their families for the Holy Land, but they are not in the main focus.

This film is filled with one more thing that I consider significant to mention, SYMBOLISM. It is in other DeMille's movies too, but never that much as in THE CRUSADES. The most memorable moment is a scene of salvation. Simple crusaders die and just before their last breath, they desire to touch the Cross. They climb high steps enlightened by the light coming from above. It is similar to Christians going to arena in THE SIGH OF THE CROSS, but here, it really seems that DeMille wanted to show a vision of heaven.

In the end, the film shows the victory of peace. It is a historical fairy tale but partly refers to the period of peace between Christians and Muslims termed by Saladin. This led another director to make a movie, 70 years later... THE CRUSADES, however, is still entertaining in some way. It is not for historians, but a must see for all DeMille's fans and all people interested in early talkies. 7/10!

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