It is the time of the Crusades during the Middle Ages - the world shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East. A blacksmith named Balian has lost his family and nearly his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama. Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend the city against staggering odds. Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin, a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as Balian's father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. In Jerusalem at that moment--between the Second and Third Crusades--a fragile peace prevails, through the efforts of its enlightened Christian king, Baldwin IV, aided by his advisor Tiberias, and the military ... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
As he had done in Huesca, production designer Arthur Max used a real kasbah when constructing Ibelin, and simply built an 'extension' onto the existing structure. The set was built primarily by local craftsmen using traditional building techniques (eg mud bricks were made on-site from local earth and straw, doors and window frames were hand-carved from local palm trees, roofing tiles were hand-thrown and hand-fired). See more »
The castle of Raynald of Chatillon, called simply "Karak" in the movie and known as "Crac des Moabites" at the time, is shown on a modest rise above a plain. It actually sits atop a ridge surrounded by fairly steep valleys. See more »
I can start by admitting that i'm a fan of "Gladiator". And why do i mention this? Because there are more similarities between "Gladiator" and this movie besides having the same director.
What struck me first about this movie was the visual style. Ridley Scott is just one of the best directors right now when it comes to this. Every shot feels thought-through, every color balanced. Most of the time though he still manages to avoid the clinical style of many other directors focused on visuals. "Gladiator" felt somewhat artificial to me when i watched it the first time around, and even more so when watching it on DVD. Many of the special effects-shots are simply not that well-made. "Kingdom of Heaven" though takes full opportunity of the advancements made in technology. The movie looks awesome to say the least.
The script is no revolution of coherence or cohesion, yet it works rather well for this type of movie. Because this is more pure entertainment than anything else. In the press material Ridley Scott stated himself that this should be seen more as entertainment than historical facts. Which is absolutely fine by me i might add, at least as long as he states this beforehand. Perhaps the most disturbing things is for instance the way that Orlando Bloom goes from clueless blacksmith to full-fledged sword-wielding knight in 15 minutes movie-time.
And the actors? Orlando Bloom is in my opinion one of the most over-rated actors around today. Here though he's better than i've seen him before. I think the main thing is that he manages to act and look more like an adult this time, while in most previous movies he has felt almost childish. The rest of the cast consist mostly of quite well-known names and they all do a fine job, making this movie quite well-acted although it's not exactly Shakespeare...
All things said and done i found this movie to be very entertaining. It's visually stunning, reasonably well acted with a decent script and some nice characters. What it lacks in coherence and story it makes up for with a strong and quick pace (for the genre) and some truly impressive action scenes. Wolfgang Petersson and Oliver Stone should watch this before they even think of making another historic epic. Because Ridley Scott has learned the important lesson so well put in "Gladiator": the people want to be entertained! I rate this 7/10.
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