This movie is based on the novel written by the only Arab Noble laureate in Literature, Neguib Mahfouz, and Yusuf Sibai. The film is about the Kurd Salah ud Din Ayyub, ruler of Egypt, known in the West as Saladin the Victor of The Crusade Wars. He was born in 1138 and died in 1193. He ruled Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz and Yemen and liberated Palestine from Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The movie begins with the Arab generals narrating to Saladin, the plight, suffering and misery of the people of the occupied land of Palestinians at the hands of the Christians. The generals tell Saladin that the Palestinians believe that, “you are their last hope”. They were facing the enemy unarmed. The Palestinians were driven out of their homeland and were starving refugees, although, “the young and old have lost their smile,” stressed the officer, yet faith, belief and conviction kept their spirits strong. Saladin was considered to be their liberator and the people firmly believed that “Allah will come to our help”.
Saladin then asks his best and bravest generals to teach his son Ismael, the art of war and to learn “to face danger with a smile”. Saladin reveals his inner feelings to his officers, concerning the liberation of Palestine, saying that:
“I cannot ignore their call. The Arabs must unite to achieve it. My dream is to see Arabs under one flag, only then we can liberate Jerusalem.”
The unity of Arabs is a driving force for him and he is candid about his joy and happiness and in excitement he says, “how wonderful to see Arabs united and without hate.”
Christian ruler of Palestine, Prince Renaud, discusses with his officers, the expected attack of Saladin on Jerusalem. His general asks him to give him the command of the forces to face and defeat Saladin and emphasis that since the treasury is empty, he will need money to finance the war. To get the money, his plan is to “attack the pilgrims.” Prince Renaud does not endorse his plan of attacking the pilgrims because “we have a treaty with them. They will protect our pilgrims and we shall protect theirs.” The General defends his plans in the name of Ceaser and tells his junior to “attack the Muslims when they are offering prayers because they are unarmed”.
The scenes of slaughter, killing and looting of unarmed Muslims are very gripping and the general in his vanity declares, “Nothing will quench my thirst except Saladin’s blood.” The Christians knew that Saladin will attack them for violation of the treaty and killing of the unarmed pilgrims, so they camp their forces on top of Hill Hateem, with one hundred and forty thousand strong fighting forces to face Saladin, who had just forty thousand soldiers.
To be continued…