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
William Monahan was brought to the attention of Ridley Scott by Scott's associate, Lisa Ellzey during filming of Scott's previous film Matchstick Men (2003) with a script titled Tripoli, intended to be a Russell Crowe vehicle. Ridley Scott would work on Tripoli in the evening after shooting Matchstick Men (2003) during the day. He and his team would then have story meetings all weekend. Indeed, Tripoli had effectively gone into preproduction. All the department heads had been appointed, Branko Lustig was working on a production schedule and budget, the major roles were being cast, design and artwork was bring done, models were being built, locations had been chosen. Indeed, some of the set was actually being built. The film was even greenlit twice, but on both occasions, things fell apart. It was around the time of the second collapse that William Monahan delivered his Kingdom of Heaven script. Scott had always wanted to make a Crusades movie, and much of the ideas and metaphors from Tripoli were incorporated into Kingdom. See more »
In some scenes involving horses, modern orange cones can be seen on the ground directing the riders on the path past the camera to follow. This has been corrected for the Director's Cut DVD. See more »
Kingdom of Heaven is an entertaining and spectacular film, to say the least. However, being an enthusiast of the history of the crusader states, I would like to mention some historical facts and accuracies that generated the film.
For a start, all the main characters of the film are historical figures, from Balian to the unfortunate Baldwin IV (oftenly referred as "Baldwin the Leper"). However, the only connection of Balian and Sybilla was that he indeed helped her defend Jerusalem and negotiated its subsequent surrender to Saladin. However, he was not only a political opponent of her husband (Guy de Lusignan), but also of HERS.
You see, Sibylla actually loved Guy enough as to fight to make him a king, even if the barons of the kingdom were against him. She actually tricked them: She agree to divorced him before her coronation, with the only term to choose herself her new husband. When the barons accepted, she just chose to remarry Guy and established him in the throne of Jerusalem. Balian was married with her stepmother, mother of her half sister Isabella (completely ignored in the film). He conspired with Maria to have another noble, Conrad of Montferrat, marry Isabella, giving Conrad a stronger claim to the kingdom.
Sibylla actually succeeded her son from a previous marriage (Baldwin V), not her brother, as the film suggests. He was a child-king that succeeded his leper uncle but lived only for one year. Indeed Guy was captured in the Battle of Hattin. When Saladin was besieging the Holy City (and Sybilla personally led the defense) and she was permitted to escape to Tripoli with her daughters. However she died of an epidemic 3 years later in Tyre, the only city in the kingdom that did not fall. Her daughters also died of the same epidemic, and Guy (by now released) lost the kingdom of Jerusalem and was compensated with the Lordship of Cyprus by Richard the Lionheart.
Balian died 3 years later. He NEVER retired from the politics of the kingdom as the film suggests.
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