This is an excellent introduction to the Crusades presented clearly and creatively. Many original period documents are used as the basis of the narrative, and the visuals in many cases are stunning. The filmmakers hit the high points of the 200-year struggle, re-enacting many of the main battles (some shot in Morocco rather than at the original sites). Not as whimsical as the Terry Jones series of the previous decade, but probably easier to follow and great to watch. The companion DVD in the History Channel set is a mixed bag. There's an hour-long program about the Templars which relies too much on speculation and tabloid-style rumors (including many presented by the author of the justly-maligned book which was the basis of the DA VINCI CODE). It was obviously filmed on a shoestring compared to the main feature. There's also an interesting behind-the-scenes intro to the series, interviewing several of the producers and actors...but strangely padded by interviews with contemporary men and women who are involved in various charitable ventures. The insights into how they used CGI for the crowd scenes are worth watching.
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