Crusade in Jeans , also know as Crusade – A March Through Time (Dutch: Kruistocht in spijkerbroek) is a 2006 Dutch film, an adaptation of the book Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman. The film was directed by Ben Sombogaart.
Dolf, a 15-year-old boy living in Rotterdam, plays a football match in the stadium of Speyer, Germany. Due to Dolf’s fault his team loses.
Dolf’s mother works in a research center where a time machine has been developed. It allows an object, animal or person to be moved to a specified time in the past and a specified location. It is also possible to move to the present, and to the research center, whatever is on a specified time in the past in a specified exact location of ca. one square meter. Thus a person moving to the past can only return to the present by being at the right time on exactly the right location. The machine is being tested on animals. A special medicine is needed daily to stay alive in the past.
Dolf decides to go back in time one day, and go to Germany, to replay the match. Since he regularly visits his mother at the lab and assists with the work, guards know him, the iris scan authorization check lets him pass, and he knows his mother’s password of the computer system. This enables him to use the time machine without authorization. However, this activation of the system alarms the guards. Dolf manages to apply the system just in time before the guards can stop him, but in his haste he accidentally enters the password in the field for the destination date, and consequently travels to the year 1212. His destination location is as planned: the location of the present-day stadium, not far from the in 1212 already existing city of Speyer.
Soon after arriving in 1212 he is attacked. The girl Jenne saves his life.
He joins the Children’s Crusade, a journey on foot, motivated by the Christian faith, of 8,000 children from Germany to Jerusalem to non-violently conquer the city from the Muslim Ayyubid dynasty, with God’s help. The leaders are the teenage boy Nicolas and father Anselmus. They first go across the Alps to Genoa, where Nicolas expects the sea to part, so that they can walk through the sea to Palestine. However, Anselmus has the secret plan to sell the children as slaves. We see him releasing pigeons to send a message to the traders, and we see him secretly meeting representatives of them.
Each time they pass a city they urge the local authorities to assist them with food and supplies, emphasizing that it would be against God’s will to refuse. At Speyer assistance is refused, after which the church of the city is destroyed by fire, caused by a lightning strike. This is interpreted as God’s revenge; the responsible person who refused to assist the children is hanged, and the children are now welcome.
Dolf applies his modern-day knowledge to save the lives of many children. He even saves the life of one of the leaders, prince Carolus, who almost drowns, by bringing him on shore and applying cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Dolf also helps to stop an infectious disease from spreading. He also carries modern equipment, such as his watch, his iPod, and his mobile phone (albeit without signal), and also his clothes and his Mars Bar are special for the people living in 1212. All this helps him gain respect.
At Rottweil the crusaders get flour to bake as much bread as they can in one night. Dolf pays the baker with his iPod for use of his bakery, and together the children bake enough bread for everyone.
Dolf has doubts about the people’s Christian beliefs, e.g. that the sea will part. However, the people are very aggressive against people with different beliefs; Dolf is almost executed for blasphemy.
Dolf has some of the medicine with him that one needs when sent to another time, but runs out of it. Dolf’s mother succeeds in sending him a new supply and a message about the time and place where he has to be to be brought back to 2006. She knows about his whereabouts from an old book describing this stranger that appeared in 1212. The book was written and illustrated by Thaddeus, a learned monk with whom Dolf gets befriended. Dolf successfully returns to 2006.
However, Dolf has fallen in love with Jenne and they had the intention to go together, but in the consternation Jenne failed to join Dolf. Therefore Dolf wants to go to 1212 again; his mother understands, and gives him a new supply of the medicine. After Dolf leaves 2006 for the second time, the film ends. Dolf is seen playing football where the Dutch team wins. A newspaper article showing his picture after scoring the goal shows his mother and Jenne cheering for him in the stadium.