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Crusade: A March Through Time

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Crusade: A March Through Time Movie Poster Image
Time-travel tale has lots of violence against kids.
  • PG
  • 2006
  • 78 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The religious fervor of the Middle Ages is depicted as both superstitious and inspirational. Dolf steps into a leadership role and cares for other children. Leaders can be thoughtful and open to feedback, or corrupt and dishonest.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kids are the heroes of this film. Rolf cares only about soccer until he's sent back to a time before modern conveniences and life-saving drugs. When he joins the Children's Crusade, he becomes a leader, helps organize the kids to function "like a team," and saves many lives with 21st century techniques like quarantines and CPR. Adults are seen killing, kidnapping, and scheming to sell kids off as slaves. The kids in the crusade, especially Jenne, are driven by serving a purpose higher than themselves and caring for each other along the way.

Violence

Kids and teenagers in the 13th century face daily dangers like starvation and fevers, as well as a series of life-threatening incidents including a child nearly drowning, another killed by wolves, several children killed in an attack by adults, and others kidnapped as slaves. Dolf gets punched, kicked, pierced, and nearly stabbed in fight scenes, and he hits a man over the head with a large rock. Jenne kills men with a slingshot.

Sex

Dolf and Jenne share one kiss.

Language

"Crap." "Bugger off." "Hell." "Demon." "Devil."

Consumerism

Mars bar, cell phone, iPod, Nike sweatshirt, European national youth soccer teams.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crusade: A March Through Time features kids of all ages being threatened, maimed, killed, and enslaved. While the central message involves teamwork and selfless service, the context is thousands of children following a self-proclaimed religious leader, a child himself, into harm's way on a likely futile mission in the Middle Ages. The brutality of life in these times, the maliciousness of many adults, and the very real dangers the kids face could frighten younger viewers. Language includes "crap" and "hell."

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What's the story?

In CRUSADE: A MARCH THROUGH TIME, teenager Dolf (Johnny Flynn) has just botched the final play that disqualifies his country's national youth team from a European tournament. Inspired by his scientist mother's (Emily Watson) experiments with time travel, he sneaks into her lab to try to go back in time and replay the match. When he punches the wrong numbers into the computer, he winds up instead in the year 1212 and deep in the heart of a mass crusade of kids making their way by foot from Europe to Jerusalem. There he befriends Jenne (Stephanie Leonidas) and takes on a leadership role in the crusade, convincing the young spiritual leader Nicholas (Robert Timmins) to let him assist the disorganized, starving, and perpetually-threatened group of kids, often with the help of his modern-day knowledge.

Is it any good?

This movie reminds you why sometimes a series makes a better format for an ambitious story than a feature film does. There's simply too much potential material in Crusade: A March Through Time to do it justice in under two hours, which says great things about the original idea, but means the final product is light on details and character development. More time would have allowed a better set-up to explain why Dolf makes such a drastic and potentially life-threatening decision to go back in time, not to mention how the science behind the time traveling (and DNA pills Dolf has to take) supposedly work. The film also gives short shrift to Dolf's emotional reckoning with the possibility of being stuck for the rest of his life in the Middle Ages as well as to Jenne's decision to abandon her world and jump ahead several centuries.

The vast differences between a child's life in 1212 versus today and the profound religious convictions of the 13th century characters offer meaty topics for deeper exploration, but also the possibility for more historical inaccuracies. And maybe such detail is unnecessary in a film aimed at a tween audience anyway: Crusade certainly succeeds in conveying its age-appropriate messages about teamwork, friendship and selfless service, thanks in no small part to the convincing and likable performances of its young cast, especially Flynn. The outcome is that Crusade is just enticing enough to leave discerning viewers wanting, if not annoyed by the absence of, more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the historical events portrayed in Crusade: A March Through Time. What were the Children's Crusades and how did they end, according to historians? Why did Christians embark on crusades at all?

  • If you went back in time, where would you like to go and why? What do you think you would miss the most from your life today?

  • Do you think it was right of Dolf to bring Jenne back to the modern day with him? Why or why not?

  • What other films about time travel have you watched? How did they compare to this one?

Movie details

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