Written and Directed by: James Wignall
Narrated by: Art Malik
Released by: BFS Entertainment
Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent It if you like history.
The Knights of the Temple of Solomon or the Knights Templar are a famous part of the history of the Crusades, but they can be perplexing. They took a vow of poverty, but controlled a multinational financial network. Their battle tactics were the seed for modern military discipline, but they still lost the Holy Land to the forces of Islam. And although their order was based on killing and dying for God, they were nevertheless burned as Devil worshippers. The documentary series The Knights Templar gives us a glimpse into the history and myths associated with these warrior monks.
[ad#longpost]The four episodes give a chronological history of the Templars, starting with their formation in Jerusalem protecting Christian pilgrims. Their red cross emblems and black and white standard distinguished them from the usual Crusader. Their main tactic, the cavalry charge, could be devastating (when it worked). Their martial spirit and dedication to battle propelled them to the vanguard of the Christian forces in the Middle East. To support their efforts, they acquired lands from donations to their order and worked them for every bit of cash they could get. With these men of God securing trade routes and with offices in London, Paris, and Malta, merchants placed their trust and their monies with the Knights.
But with their success, there came jealously from the Crowned Heads of Europe who were strapped for cash. The Knights could bring prosperity to a region, but they could also financially dominate that region as well. Even with their resources and dedication to God, the Knights lost the Holy Land to political intrigue and inept military strategy. When the Muslims finally kicked out the Europeans in 1291, the Templars’ main mission was gone. And this made them vulnerable. The Knights were arrested and charged with everything from homosexual acts to Satanism. Their assets confiscated, their leaders burned, the Knights passed into history and legend. The founding of Switzerland, the Shroud of Turin, and the Freemasons has all been connected to the Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar are an interesting historical subject. I only wish the documentary was as interesting. The documentary is very informative, but it doesn’t do much to grab your attention. They constantly reuse the same marching Knights at different angles, for example. This documentary was obviously shot on a very tight budget. The backgrounds of Jerusalem are very well shot. It’s nice to be reminded of the beauty of the city when all we’ve had recently is the violence of our era. The narrator proceeds then to drone on and the professors featured needed some caffeine or something to liven them up a bit. When somebody is talking about their area of expertise, I expect a little bit more more passion. I pity the students who have to take classes with them. The special features aren’t much, simply a chronology of the Crusades, what a Knight’s inventory was, and notes on some of the legends associated with the Knights.
If you are interested in the subject, rent The Knights Templar, but do take a couple shots of espresso first.