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A Script Review of CRUSADE

Hey there. Well this bit is written by someone that is a devout fan of the legendary cool script CRUSADE. Everything he writes about it, I am in sincere agreement with. I dearly love this script, and I do feel the world is lessor for it not moving down the development pipeline faster. The concept that CUTTHROAT ISLAND was made instead of this is... unthinkable. The differences in the scripts, the directors, and the talent was staggering. And ultimately it was a decision that doomed a production company to DEATH. Well read on, there are spoilers, but if this film gets made, it will be so visually driven, so much will be there on the score, so much will be done that knowing what happens can't distract in the least. At least that is my opinion. Here we go...

Damien Thorn reporting,

"All new rumors aside, CRUSADE is at the very least the greatest unproduced script of the decade. Walon Green is a master of hardcore screenwriting, and this is in every way worthy of his most famous work THE WILD BUNCH (co-written with Peckinpah). A brutal action epic laced with literate political dialog and evil humor (what you'd expect for a slicing cavalier Paul Verhoeven flic), this is foremost a smashingly entertaining story that hurtles foreward like all those severed limbs in STARSHIP TROOPERS. Green is known for his ruthless sense of structure and here every scene is loaded with fascinating details that set up the following events with enormous payoff. The Arnold character Hagen is the ultimate part for him, iconic and shrouded in charismatic mystery that reveals a keen intelligence and the sort of presence you can believe would be at the center of an epic shite storm in the medieval Christian world.

Hagen is a serf-turned thief caught raiding the goods of a corrupt abbot, then sentenced to hang when an emmissary of the Pope arrives to set up a pre-MSNBC propaganda speech by the Pope. Hagen is spared and jailed meeting a mediterranean shyster Ari who becomes his sidekick. Hagen's nemesis turns up, a vile count named Emmich who is Hagen's half-brother, setting up the cause for Hagen's pronounced distemper whenever confronting this guy. The Pope arrives with a bishop Adhemer le Puy and stirs up the rabble to go on a crusade to defend the holy land from Muslims (who are incorrectly maligned as usual). Every one gets emotional and Hagen seizes the opportunity to con his way into the crusade by faking a miracle, causing commoners to look up to him and the church officials to recognize a PR genius who could be useful. A giant panorama of the crusade led by nobles and hundreds of knights ensues. Then the complications start happening, Hagen fights Emmich, has an episode with sl! avers, is sold to saracens, watches a guy get eunuched, gets kissed by Ari, is taken to Jerusalem where he meets civilized men trying to maintain the holy land in the face of a crusader attack, falls for a Saracen princess, Leila, gets caught up in the local politics of moderates vs fanatics who just want to kill! kill! kill!

Then Hagen tries to fix everything and save Leila from a bad fate and fails to avert the war which is delivered in totally spectacular terms , although in this draft is related in a more close up manner describing hundreds of combatants rather than the thousands. At any rate it does have the scene where Hagen comes out of the mist wielding a scythe which he uses to surgically remove men from their ankles. The climactic third also includes a decisive fight with Emmich, and Hagen surveying the corrupt scale of the destruction wreaked by petty girlie men for profit, saying to a decorated knight, "Take a look around. Take a deep breath and with the stench of death in your nose, go tell God you've restored his kingdom!"

The draft I have seen is the one dated 1-93 with revisions by Gary Goldman. Problems with this draft include a few sections of ordinary action like those in NAVY S.E.A.L.S, also written by Gary Goldman. The third act is sometimes more perfunctory than it should be with a conventional wrap-up at the end. However all is made up for with tons of incredibly cool scenes, including an escape from a dead donkey in the face of an hyena attack (don't ask). I could see this with a few more political scenes (think SPARTACUS, BEN HUR), a punchier ending, and an advanced budget for Verhoeven's unparalleled way with expansive battle scenes on a great scale. This is the project to get a sense of entire civilizations out to exterminate each other. With the play on church politics and mass schizophrenia, this would be a worthy and timely event film. Mikhail Gorbachev was a fan of this project. It is Verhoeven's answer to ALEXANDER NEVSKY, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Who should be in it? An upgraded !

Cast with people like Charlton Heston as the Pope, Gary Sinise as Emmich, Jennifer Lopez as Leila, Robert Duvall still as Adhemer, you couldn't go wrong. I don't know what a raw film like this would make back 200 mil, but the violence would work if handled in the offhand blood n guts realism-heightened-for-effect manner that won't bother PRIVATE RYAN at oscar time. It is a prestige item. No doubt it would piss off every known special interest group on the planet, but film, the art form of this century, can do that. CRUSADE is the film Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven, Poledouris (or Goldsmith, it matches both of their strengths) were born to make. It's the kind of film Universal was fated to produce the moment cameras rolled on SPARTACUS."

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