The crusades from an Arab perspective, played by puppets

Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala

Wael Shawky

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The crusades come to life in Egyptian artist Wael Shawky’s beautiful Cabaret Crusades. Inspired by the writings of Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, Shawky’s film trilogy explores the horrors of the medieval holy wars in the Middle-East – from an Arab perspective. With a cast made up entirely of puppets, the third part, The Secrets of Karbala (2014), centres on the period between the 7th and 12th centuries, covering the crusades as well as a dispute between two Islamic sects. Beautifully made of handblown Murano glass, the puppets have amazing expressive power, making the scenes full of violence, repression and torture all the more awe-inspiring.

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