WriterJerzy Andrzejewski, Donald Howarth Release date1968 Initial releaseJune 1968 (United Kingdom) ScreenplayJerzy Andrzejewski, Donald Kravanth CastLionel Stander (The Monk), Ferdy Mayne (Count Ludovic de Vendôme), Pauline Challoner (Blanche), Mathieu Carrière (Alexis Melissen), Jenny Agutter (Maud de Cloyes), John Fordyce (Jacques de Cloyes) Similar moviesRelated Andrzej Wajda movies
Gates to Paradise is a 1968 film by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. The film is set in medieval France and is based on a story by Polish writer Jerzy Andrzejewski (1960) that seeks to expose the motives behind youthful religious zeal. It was entered into the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.
Directed by Polish auteur Andrzej Wajda, the obscure gem unfolds as a sort of 13th century Road Trip, with youthful hormones and selfish impatience trumping nearly all of the (supposedly) pious preoccupations of their handsome leader Jacques (blonde heartthrob John Fordyce, constantly and comically running his fingers through his Beatlesque moptop).
In 1212, a Childrens Crusade is launched after Jakob (John Fordyce) claims to have had a vision in which it is said that the innocence of children would be able to liberate Jerusalem. A monk (Lionel Stander), returning from Jerusalem, joins the crusade and hears the childrens confessions, gradually realizing that most of them are taking part not for religious, but for more worldly reasons, like rejected love.
Both Alexander (Mathieu Carriere) and Bianca (Pauline Challoner) are in love with Jakob. Alexander, who has learned that his adoptive father (and his lover), Count Ludwig (Ferdy Mayne), also a crusader, had killed Alexanders Greek parents, is gleeful that Jakob himself is in love with the Count, whom he had met after the Count and Alexander had split after an argument. This allows Alexander to take revenge for the Counts infidelity by telling his beloved Jakob about the Counts recent demise by drowning in a river, watched by an unmoved Alexander.
Finally, it is revealed in Jakobs confession that Jakob received the inspiration for the crusade not from God but from the Count, which means that the crusade must fail, since it is not by the will of God. However, the monk is unable to stop the childrens progression and is left behind.