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The movie Kingdom of Heaven was an excellent depiction of the crusades in the Middle Ages, however my mental image of the Middle Ages was of the average people in the average town, and what their daily lives might look like. I think we saw this when Orlando Bloom’s character started living in the town he watched over—before the fighting of the crusades really became involved. I think that Kingdom of Heaven had a very accurate depiction of the crusades in the Middle Ages.
I imagined the town to be dusty and the people and buildings dirty with blood, mud, and sand amongst other things. I imagined that I was in the town and experiencing it in the moment of a regular day. The people wouldn’t have shoes—especially if they were poor, so the paths felt well-worn and smooth. Then as you continued into the village and your eyes would tear from the dust and sand blowing about in the wind, or your fingers feel very delicate compared to the wooden wagon you just touched. Then the smell hits you as you near the closest people. The smell so bombarding that your nostrils flare as you gag at the smell of people’s waste sitting around and rotting. Older people too, they smell of rotting flesh and their own excrement. Even the small children smell, probably from their encounters with the sand or mud while doing chores for their family. The smell is overwhelming.
And then you see the people you just described by your sense of smell—two young boys carrying wooden buckets of water back to their small enclosure of a house. A woman inside—maybe their mother, trying to do to many things at once so that none of her tasks were lasting. The baby beneath her crying, the meal she was preparing getting dirty as it lay on the ground, the grandmother looking horribly old, although she was probably only in her first half-century, and coughing and wheezing as the mother attended to her and the baby with the same care and devotion.
A little ways down a family doing slightly better—they had water, an older son who had not yet left for the crusades to help out, bringing back water, a mother with food ready, and a young boy helping his mother with the food. But then the next shelter down was the worst off. All I saw in my brief glance was a young woman crying over a small child and a woman who looked to be her same age—both lifeless on the floor, covered in flies and a sickly yellow color which matched the sand around them—that is, the sand that wasn’t covered in blood.
The Kingdom of Heaven reflected most of these aspects, although of course it was a movie and set in the style meant to please an audience—filled with action and romance and drama that might not have regularly happened. So besides the dramatics and exaggerations, I think that Kingdom of Heaven had a very accurate depiction of the crusades in the Middle Ages.
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