Arn: The Knight Templar and multiply-perspective history

Last week I got around to watching something that had looked interesting and had been hanging around my Netflix to watch list for awhile. What I’m talking about is Arn: The Knight Templar. This is a miniseries based on a trilogy of novels by Jan Guillou, the first of which, I purchased after watching the series on Netflix, and will report on when I’ve finished it/them, but look good so far.

Initially it appears these novels were made into a pair of movies, then edited into one movie for English release. What I think is that single movie is on Netflix under the same title as the miniseries, and from what I saw when I started to watch it, it was the same footage as the miniseries, condensed. The movie received terrible reviews, but I would definitely recommend the miniseries, which is just over four hours.
What I find interesting about the series, and hope to find interesting in the novels, is that the series is about a Swedish man, and the filmed version is mostly in Swedish, with parts in Latin, French and English. I look at it as a text if medieval historical fiction, yet from a non-Anglo-Saxon context, something I’ve not encountered before. It embodies, for me, a continental addition to the majority of historical medieval fiction which I’ve encountered from Anglo-American authors, and another perspective in such fiction. And I’ve got to say, I enjoyed the miniseries, and am enjoying the first novel so far. For me it has parallels to some of Stephen Lawhead and Robin Hobb’s medieval fiction. Hobb more in the characters and plot, and Lawhead that also in addition to his Crusades’ series’ setting.

 What’s also interesting about Guillou is that he has written in several genres to popular acclaim. He;s been a journalist, and written a successful detective series, as well as the Arn novels.
I plan to let you know how I’m go with The Road to Jerusalem, the first book in Guillou’s Crusades Triology, featuring Arn, but what I’m sure I’ll also be talking about in future posts is multiple perspectivism, in both history and elsewhere. I find it fascinating to look at perspectives other than the ‘Western hegemony’ that we read in classrooms and the more popular history books. Sometimes this means actually paying attention to the context of texts and the perspective of the original writers and readers, such as in my favoured reading of the book of Genesis (as compared to the recent Ham vs Nye debate – there will probably be a post on that topic at some point), but also in general history and story. That’s part of what I love about Stephen Ambrose’s books – they tell a story through quotes from the participants in the history they are telling, which is somewhat of a refreshingly different perspective.

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