Into the Dark Ages

Quora: Why do all movies set in Medieval times never have the sun shining?

Slavik Chukhlebov, studied Computer Science at California State University, Chico

It’s because there is a stupid notion in popular culture that the Medieval Period was a time when everyone lived in absolute poverty, wore clothes that looked like they were sewn together by a 6 year old, and bathed 0 times during their entire lives. The dark filtered movies and shows apply to the Medieval period are supposed to symbolically reflect how bleak everyone’s life supposedly was.

Some people take the term “Dark Ages” a little too literally.

Making Medieval (particularly in Europe) seem terrible is a favorite pastime of Hollywood, especially when a political bias is involved.

Take for instance the filter used in the European portion of The Kingdom of Heaven, which holds a heavily negative view of Medieval Europe, going so far as to change historical facts to make the crusaders seem worse. Raggedy grey clothing and a dark filter (and swords from the wrong centuries, but I digress)

Vs what Medieval Europeans of that time period actually wore:

Edit: Since multiple people have posted in the comments about it and nobody wants to do some research of their own before accusing me of ignoring the peasants, here:

A few of the reds in the above picture are a little too deep (they should perhaps be a little more muted, Europe didn’t have access to cheap red dye for a while), but aside from that, it’s fine.

Nobles wore embroidered dyed clothing. Peasants wore simpler versions, but they still weren’t crap-covered rags.

Yes, the Medieval Period could be hard on people. But, it wasn’t gloomy and it wasn’t necessarily a whole lot better or worse for the average person than Antiquity or the Early Modern Period.

If you still want to portray suffering, find a more creative and meaningful way than to coat the video in a grey filter.

Edit: Medieval architecture was also often decorated or colorful, especially churches.

This is how Hollywood often depicts churches (of any era). Cold, grey, and lifeless:

Rusians who traveled to Greece in the late 10th century described the churches they saw as follows:

“Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.”

Russian churches built afterwards incorporated the Greek elements into their exterior and especially interior design. This is what Russian Orthodox churches look like from the outside.

This is what most Orthodox churches look like on the inside. It’s an art style which hasn’t changed much in over a thousand years, and even remains fairly constant across most of Eastern Europe.

Let’s go through some more churches Medieval people worshiped at in the Middle Ages.

This is the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, finished in the early 4th century. Technically, it was built before the Middle Ages, but people in Italy worshipped in the splendor of many churches in the same style throughout the whole of the Middle Ages.

This is the Hagia Sophia, finished in 537, the Middle of the Dark Ages. Unfortunately Muslims destroyed the Christian Orthodox murals (see Russian Orthodox church above) which would have once graced its walls and ceilings after Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Islam doesn’t allow the painting of sentient beings, so the Christian artwork was considered sacrilegious. Aniconism in Islam – Wikipedia

This is Basilica of Saint Servatius, finished in 550 AD, the Middle of the Dark Ages.

This is the Aachen Cathedral, finished in 805, the end of the Dark Ages.

The next two images are the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and Cathedral of Pisa, both dating to the 11th century. This is what was being built in Europe around when the Crusades first began.

This is the Scrovegni Cathedral, finished in 1305 A.D. and demonstrating some of the art style which would evolve into the Renaissance murals found on later churches like the Sistine Chapel.

Many of the Medieval churches still around today have had their Medieval artwork destroyed or allowed to decay without restoration. Barnaby Page shared a link in the comments to a BBC article showing how some now plain churches might have looked in the Medieval times.

Projections recreate ‘destroyed’ cathedral art

Odds are if you visit a Medieval cathedral today and it has plain walls, there was once artwork underneath the paint.


At the end of the day, The Narrative is The Narrative.

Certainly the antichrists wither with their sterile culture. But the real question is, will Christians be literate and faithful enough to rebuild, reconstruct their civilization?

I say yes… but those Christians of the future may not be closely related to the Christians of today. A.K.A. The New Christian Dark Age—Just What The World Didn’t Need!

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