“The Vikings”: Response Paper

Date: Jan 14, 2019

The Vikings vs. Kingdom of Heaven

Both films are epic and their characters are, therefore, heroic. This response paper analysis explores the similarities between them as well as differences. They both have religious impacts and some variations in the view of Christianity as a religion in comparison to Islam. The heroes in the two films are engaged in wars which are meant to battle out religious believes.

Similarities and Differences

The director of “Kingdom of Heaven” uses a blacksmith turned knight called Balian in his bid to ask for God’s forgiveness for the sins of his dead wife in the holly city of Jerusalem. His journey is war-some. The battle is between Christian and Muslim armies largely to bring out the rivalry between the two religions. The knights of templar are depicted as a band of religious fanatics who provoked war with Muslims by attacking the Muslim caravans. Balian is depicted as illegitimate and raised as a commoner and romantically related to Sybilla who committed suicide while they were married. This is a contrast of Christian doctrines which the film depicts. In this film, Balian questions and doubts the existence of God which is another compromise of Christian faith. The real hero of the movie is a Muslim general, Saladin. He tries to justify Islam as a superior religion against Christianity; he fights and defeats Christians in the desert. He is magnanimous victor and most gracious in allowing the defendants of Jerusalem into the safe passage.

This film depicts Christianity as a weaker religion compared to Islam. The Christians in the movie mainly represented by the character of Balian are seen to be ruthless and worthless. This is evident at some point when the monk asserts, “To kill an infidel is not murder it is the path to heaven!” This is clearly contrary to the biblical teachings of the Christian doctrine. However, the Quran supports this as being the Islamic doctrine of Jihad teachings. We also meet Muslims bowing in prayer in which case Balian retorts, “You allow them to pray?” One of the Knights contemptuously says, “As long as they pay their taxes!” Based on the film, it is imperative to note that no crusaders needed extra taxes from Muslims, so as to pray. That is the Islamic doctrine and practice of Jizya. Before the crusaders leave for the devastating battle of Hattin, the movie has one soldier asserting, “The army of Jesus Christ cannot be beaten.” This sentiment has no Christian basis. It is inclined on the Islamic belief that it is impossible for a Muslim army to be overpowered by an infidel army. This is according to Muhammad when he referred to the power of Allah.

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The film “The Vikings” is also epic and the director uses war to bring out the heroic aspects of the characters. In the wars, two half-brothers, Erik (Tony Curtis) and Einar (Kirk Douglas) are bitter rivals. The rivalry is because of a romantic relationship. At this point, the film looks similar to the “Kingdom of Heaven” because warring events are spurred by a romantic relationship. The women in two films are both princesses. Balian, as mentioned earlier on, went to Jerusalem to seek the forgiveness of the sins of his wife Sybilla who had committed suicide before he encounters a lot of opposition from Muslims in Jerusalem. The two half-brothers in “The Vikings” conflict because they are in love with one woman, Princess Morgana (Janet Leigh) On the contrary, these two brothers engage in war because of love unlike Balian who was seeking for forgiveness of sins of his wife. These two films have war as a common tool of conflict resolution. The wars are fought using swords coupled by religious powers which intervene to help the heroes. “The Vikings” have pagan religious beliefs in their god Odin who is depicted as a very powerful in a scene where he saves Erik from drowning. This is, however, contrary to the “Kingdom of Heaven” where the two religions, Christianity and Islam, battle out. There is similarity about the brutality of the characters in the films. They are out with a lot of vengeance against each other and only a few have some aspects of humanitarianism. They kill at the slightest provocation. This is perhaps due to religious beliefs of the Nordic religion of the Vikings and the belief in mass killing as depicted “Kingdom of Heaven”. Christianity as a religion has no bearing on the lives of the heroes in the latter movie opposed to “Kingdom of Heaven” where Christians are depicted as ruthless. Based on the analysis, the two films are similar because both are epic with the heroes protected by supernatural powers of religion. War is common in the two movies as a mode of solving conflicts. Another common theme is the rise of Romantic Movement that cherished the medieval history, epic individuality, and the notion of liberty from laws and control as well as the dominance of sensations. The two films, however, conflict on the religious aspects with Christianity versus Islam majoring in “Kingdom of Heaven” and an unabashed celebration of paganism in “The Vikings”.

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