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
Production Designer Arthur Max used a real kasbah when constructing Ibelin, and simply built an "extension" onto the existing structure, as he had done in Huesca, Spain, near which he built the small French village seen at the beginning and end of the film. The set was built primarily by local craftsmen using traditional building techniques (i.e., 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 »
During the 12th century the Knights Templar used the Maltese cross on their habit. It wasn't until a century or so later they were forced to change to the Roman cross. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that Hollywood has always made. See more »
RANNANU (SING WITH JOY)
Arranged by Christopher Moroney
Performed by San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble
Courtesy of World Library Productions, the music and liturgy division of J.S. Paluch Company Inc. See more »
Kingdom of Heaven in 2005 will be what Gladiator was in 2000. Ridley Scott has delivered a worthy follow up to his Oscar winner, which is also based on medieval times, with a central heroic character, and supporting casts of characters based on history.
The sets are as spectacular, instead of just Rome and the Collesuem, we have the Middle East and Jerusalem. The costumes are beautiful, from intricately remade Knights armour, to the desert garb of the Muslim warriors. The soundtrack is a mixture of sounds with middle eastern influences, but somehow pales in comparison with Gladiator and lacks a central theme.
Much is said about how the film portrays religion, given the sensitive subject of the Crusades, but I feel that Ridley has achieved a wonderful balance between how Christianity and Islam are portrayed. Both are given fair airtime on their ideologies, and the film tries to preach (pardon the pun) about tolerance, yet highlights the dangers of fanatical followers of both religions, of misguidance from men in search of worldly power.
Which Christianity took a beating - where senseless battles are waged in the name of Christ, where insensitivity breed contempt. Preists are cast in negative light and given lines like "convert to Islam, repent later" when all around seems lost. It is emphasized in the show that what matters is in your head and in your heart - that noble actions speak louder than mere empty and repetitive "praise the Lord" chants, as if that will protect you during Judgement Day.
Orlando Bloom plays Balian, a blacksmith who became a fugitive, but inherited land and army from his father, Godfrey, played by Liam Neeson. The film can be broadly categorized into 3 acts - the first in which Balian searches for his identity and new life in Jerusalem, the second in which the focus is on religion and politics of the time, and the last, the spectacular siege and war.
Bloom puts up a commendable performance, so to his detractors out there, you're in for a big surprise. Edward Norton had the difficult task of acting through a mask as leper King Baldwin, and I applaud Ridley's decision of casting real Muslim actors to learn from them.
Fans of Eva Green might be disappointed that the relationship between Balian and Queen Sibylla was played down to focus on the battles, but I feel it's a fair trade off.
Firstly, some of you might not like the quick-cut-MTV style editing in Gladiator's fight scenes, especially the close ups. This is repeated here though, in a blood splattering manner. The pan-out and general landscape sweeps are mindblowing, and will leave you wanting more. Think about the battles that you see Lord of The Rings Two Towers and Return of the King - the siege on Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith - Kingdom of Heaven delivers the equivalent, probably even better (without the fantasy elements). This is one medieval war movie whose battles will stick in your mind for some time.
The audience were the only disappointing experience for me - they were laughing at a dialogue near the end, where a "knight" asked who Balian was, and he answered "I'm the blacksmith", in which the "knight" answered "I'm the King". Laughter was abound in the theatre. I was like, HELL-O people! See that lion motif on his armour? That's Richard the Lionheart! D'uh! The Crusades didn't end there, it waged on...
What is Jerusalem worth? Nothing, everything. Watch this, and in my opinion, it has Oscar written all over it. Now to hit the library and research more on the subject!
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