• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Trial Of The Knights Templar

    Having reviewed the three other entries in Channel Five's religious documentary series Secrets of the Cross, I thought that, for the sake of completeness, I would offer a few comments on tonight's programme Trial Of The Knights Templar.

    I don't have a great deal of knowledge about the Templars. In fact, I'm ashamed to say that most of what I have been told about them came from "The Da Vinci Code" and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So as something of novice I'm hoping tonight's episode was at least as accurate as the earlier entries were.

    Having said all that, had I sat down and made a list of all the topics I thought this programme would cover I would have got a good deal of it correct. So talk of their trade in relics, the Holy Grail and the Turin Shroud occupy the programme's early stages. This then leads back into a more detailed look at the Crusades. But, for a modern documentary, the approach the filmmakers took was most unusual. Instead of telling the usual tales of crusader violence towards Muslims, Jews, and even other Christians, the Templars were treated far more deferentially. Whilst this approach may have been in vogue 50 years ago, its rare that anyone praises the crusaders for anything these days. Whilst it certainly wasn't a whitewash, it did feel a little odd.The film then turns its attentions to the fall of the Templars at the hands of Philip IV. Here we are told about the power hungry king and a weak and vacillating pope. Philip was in debt to the Templars and so charged them with heresy to get them out of the way. Pope Clement absolved the Templars (even despite a damning, and recently re-discovered, report into their initiation ceremonies) but was ultimately unable to save them from Philip's schemes.

    It's to the film's credit that during its final section, which examines what became of the Templars and their still undiscovered wealth, it never once mentions Opus Dei, or "The Da Vinci Code". All of which leaves me with the impression that it may, actually, be reasonably trustworthy, and Wikipedia, at least (!), broadly agrees with the programme's presentation.

    Once more, the visuals are fairly impressive, and whilst the score for this series was starting to become a little tiresome overall, it was no less effective here than in any of the other episodes.

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