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Constantine's Sword 

Wednesday, Jul 2 2008

Oren Jacoby's documentary is three movies in one, at least two of which would benefit from more development than is possible in a 96-minute feature. Film A, the most successful, is producer and on-camera protagonist James Carroll's devastating exposé of the history of Roman Catholic anti-Semitism. Carroll, a former priest, looks back in anger at his church's crimes, from the 1096 massacre of German Jews perpetrated by the Crusaders down to Pope Pius XII's silence during the Holocaust. Film B is Carroll's own story, from his childhood as the son of a U.S. Air Force general through his youth as an antiwar priest. This interesting personal journey unfortunately gets short shrift as Carroll only uses the parts of his life that relate to Film C, an examination of the overlap of church and state in George Bush's America, as evidenced by the infiltration of the USAF Academy in Colorado by evangelical Protestants. Unfortunately Jacoby and Carroll never successfully link the sins of European Catholics with the outreach efforts of now-disgraced pastor Ted Haggard's New Life Church (although it must be said that Haggard is at once very funny and very scary). Nor does the film succeed in equating persecuted European Jews with Muslims fearful of Bush's post-9/11 "crusade." Catholics aren't Protestants, Jews aren't Muslims, Iraq isn't Vietnam, and this movie needs another hour.

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Gregg Rickman


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