If you made a world-changing discovery that could prove that all of history was wrong, how would you present it to the world? Would you hold a news conference to outline the evidence? Publish a journal article for peer review with all of the data needed to understand the claim? Or would you create a nine-minute CGI video that you then ambiguously market to a “global Templar audience” as a strange hybrid of fact and fiction “based on a true story”? Obviously, you’d do the last of these because if you believe that you have completely rewritten history, chances are pretty good that you don’t know enough about evidence and logic and reason to know why you are wrong.
Our entry in the gallery of regrettable films is a brief animated feature entitled Knights Templar Secrets Found, from director and executive producer Martin Brighty, a London-based branding expert. The short film is currently for sale on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Video for $2.99, which is $3 more than I would pay for a nine-minute video. However, Brighty has contracted with a British PR firm to distribute press materials to promote the documentary, which is confusingly described as a “inspired by real events” and a “documentary drama.” It is also narrated not by Brighty, the supposed investigator, but by Merlin… Why? Who knows? “Merlin Antiquities Research” is the name Brighty has given his organization, though it seemingly has no footprint beyond this film.
The story, such as it is, concerns a small, crudely-fashioned gold and diamond brooch in the form of a splayed cross. According to Brighty, the piece belonged the collection of the French crown jewels, which the Republican government auctioned off in 1887, many to be destroyed, in an effort to tamp down monarchist sentiment. Before the sale, however, the government ordered the jewels photographed and documented. The electrical genius Gustave Trouvé was hired to provide special lighting for the Louvre basement to accomplish this task.
Brighty believes that the brooch in question is composed of pieces of the French crown jewels and that it contains a secret map documenting the Knights Templar’s excavations beneath Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. “Magnifying the cross at precise angles and using the end gold spheres as range finders the tunnels with its cave system and the smallest engravings come to life, some even in 3 dimension[s], amazing given the micro size of the cross itself.” He believes that the cross was once part of a Templar super-secret decoder ring, like all the cool kids were wearing: “Merlin consider the cross was once hidden within a hollow ring along with its magnifying optic out of sight under a main central jewel (today an inverted Tau symbol) both protecting it and allowing only its Templar guardian the secret.” According to Brighty/Merlin, using sophisticated computer technology reveals that the jewels are engraved with a 3-D image of the Second Temple and the spectral face of a woman in a tomb.
Here the film passes into outlandish fiction, Brighty alleges it is factual. Supposedly Trouvé, who crafted electric light-up jewelry, discovered the secrets of the jewels by applying electricity to them. Brighty claims that Trouvé worried that the demon Baphomet was stalking the Louvre to take vengeance on the jewels because of the French crown’s role in destroying the Knights Templar. He is supposed to have recorded this in a series of engravings depicting a man turning into the goatish Baphomet—a neat trick since Baphomet’s image was a severed head or a cat prior to Eliphas Levi remaking him into a goat in 1856. However, let us pretend. Therefore, Trouvé took the jewels and fashioned them into the brooch and passed it off as a souvenir of Queen Victoria’s 1887 Golden Jubilee.
As such, the cross became a lapel pin and bounced around England for a century or so until it landed in an antique shop, where Brighty found it.
Brighty alleges that Trouvé did not make any of this public in 1887 due to fear of unspecified enemies, and that only Brighty could uncover the truth, having stumbled upon this artifact in an antique shop, where its value had somehow been entirely forgotten.
The entire story rests on a series of assumptions predicated on Brighty’s belief that the Knights Templar (a) excavated secrets beneath the Temple Mount (a claim originating in the 1990s) and (b) possessed advanced technology to create optical holograms within gemstones. It’s something that would need evidence to believe it true, and I don’t think that a computer animation will cut it. It reminds me a bit of the people who look at Google Earth and see artificial constructions in any random digital blip on the sea-floor.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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