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HOLY GRAIL IN AMERICA

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars: James Lurie (narrator)
Director: Andy Awes
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Color full screen
Studio: A&E Home Video
Features: None
Length: 94 Minutes
Release Date: March 23, 2010

“Eight Goths from Sweden and twenty-two Norwegians on a journey of discovery from Vinland west – we camped.  One days journey from this stone – we fished one day – after we came home, we found men red with blood and dead save from evil.  Have men at the ocean to look after our ships.    Fourteen Days journey from this island.  Year 1362.”   

One translation of the “Kensington Stone,” discovered in Minnesota, 1898.

Film ***1/2

When I saw this program on my program guide, I recorded it but assumed I would not enjoy it, or that it was just another conspiracy theory program containing interviews with fanatics posing as scholars.  How could the Templars possibly have come to America?  But after watching this well-researched program, in which many different theories are discussed and the fragments of history tied together, I am happy to say that I was wrong.  While some of the theories are complex and difficult to prove, it cannot be ignored or dismissed easily. 

Almost the first half of the program is devoted to a stone found in Minnesota, and the second half with the Templars and the Holy Grail, which in my first viewing seemed completely unrelated.   In 1960, Viking settlements were authenticated in Newfoundland, which proved that the Vikings actually came to North America in about 1000 AD, long before Columbus.  We also know that the Templars were both clerics and soldiers, sort of the Christian version of Samurai.  They were dedicated to holiness but knew how to ride horses and use weapons to safeguard Christian pilgrims against Muslims and Christian bandits throughout the Mediterranean.  They became very rich and powerful, possibly through using knowledge obtained from the Near East, but then they were excommunicated and exterminated in 1307, on Friday the 13th. How are these two points connected? 

After they were banned and purged from Europe, today there are few if any traces of the Knights Templar’s wealth and their ships, let alone the men themselves.   But a stone tablet found in Kensington, Minnesota in 1898 containing mysterious runes has been translated and dated to many centuries before known settlers in North America.  The rune itself proclaims to be from 1362.  While the tablet was originally dismissed as a hoax perpetrated by a farmer who found it under an uprooted tree, geologists have determined that it is much older than the nineteenth century and that it is probably authentic.  Several different translations have been attempted, but they seem to indicate that in 1362, a group of Scandinavians came to North America from Vinland (Greenland), to find many of their friends dead in modern day Nova Scotia, and that they continued inland, claiming much of the Midwestern USA for themselves.

The problem with many of the interviewees in this program, as with so many similar “experts” is that they tend to cite other “experts” and use too many generalities such as “everyone agrees” or “most agree” or “the evidence is obvious.”  In some ways there are too many theories or possibilities, and speakers on both sides of the issue tend to just dismiss the other.  For example, in an area called “Little Egypt” in southern Illinois, an unnamed artifact hunter claims to have unearthed several thousand Egyptian artifacts, and there are those who believe it is a Templar treasure.  One archeologist here states that anyone who thinks they are authentic “will be disappointed.”  No one says why. What does that mean?  What are they, then?  Others dismiss conspiracy style theories that rely on encoded messages because who else but the encoder would understand the message?  While codes might be speculative, and those “artifacts” look  fake even to me, I suspect that like most academics these folks tend to ignore something they did not learn about in their lifetime of study, which is remarkably narrow minded for those who claim to be pioneers of discovery.  Another problem is that archeologists and geologists and historians do not always agree. 

Much like in Dan Brown’s famous DaVinci Code, the scientists traced many runes back to churches in Europe that are known to have been built by Templars, often with architectural knowledge and math taken from Egypt (one of the many heretical actions they took, in Rome’s eyes).

But the narration flows well from several possibilities whose probative value sways like old wooden ships between fantasy and reality onto more solid ground.  For instance, there is plentiful evidence that the Holy Grail, whatever it is, can be found under an island in Nova Scotia.  Several expeditions to recover it have failed because of water tunnel traps that would confound Aquaman, let alone Indiana Jones.  Famous figures such as FDR contributed money to try to find it, and we have good video of the site in modern times, but it very well may have been man-made, preventing anyone from finding what is there.  So there is a very real possibility that the Templar Treasure, whatever it is, could be buried right here in North America .

The hooked-X rune, the Rosslyn Chapel (discussed extensively in The DaVinci Code), and most interestingly a building on the East Coast that is in line with the Kensington are all tied together in a fast-moving historical narrative. 

Video ***1/2

Many different video sources and styles, indoor and outdoor, reenactments and new interviews are all woven together very smoothly and sharply with few if any artifacts or problems.  Now and then the picture is a little shaky probably due to interview footage but otherwise the video presentation is excellent.

Audio ****

Only stereo, but well-narrated, with a few good sound effects and music, all mixed very well.

Features (zero stars)

None.  But there is so much information packed into almost 100 minutes that special features would probably be overkill.

Summary:

Did the Templars bring their treasure to the New World to hide it from the Catholic Church?  As with many conspiracy theories, it sounds too incredible to be true, but the evidence cannot be dismissed so easily.  This special makes history come alive, and will be of special interest to fans of Grail legends and will arouse interest in anyone with even a passing interest in North American lore.

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