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Cutting and Running from the (Medieval) Middle East: The Mises-hors-scène of Kingdom of Heaven’s Double DVDs

Keywords: Kingdom of Heaven , film epic , Iraq , paratext , imperialism , narrative loop , DVD extras , Scott (Ridley) , Bush (George W.)

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Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005) certainly invites a reading along the lines of historicist cultural criticism. The final intertitle (and final shot of the film) refers to an “uneasy truce,” which implicitly extended to the film and its more critical reviewers. Despite statements to the contrary, Bush has been widely viewed as advancing U.S. imperialism in more naked form. A number of reviewers and Scott himself have connected the dots between Bush’s reference to a “crusade” against terrorism just after 9/11 and Scott’s film. But understanding the film and its paratexts as relayed between two uncannily double DVDs means that historicism and film and media theory in its cultural studies version cannot escape the trauma which the film and the historicist film critic want to make symbolic and narratable. The film’s uncanny epitexts and delayed delivery, potentially accelerating the speed of reviewing, and collapsing old and new, mechanical and human, oscillate without a telos between cinematic (re)inscriptions and their framing ex-scriptions.


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