Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
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Either enjoy fiction or never go to see a movir again... Please dont go...
But Salah Din was a hero who took Jerusalem back from the Christians who originally took it by killing and slaughtering Muslims. He was humble, honorable and a smart leader.
Norton is just brilliant, Saladin excellent and Guye....
What's wrong with it is easy... the cut version like Prince of Thieves is just ridiculous to explain everything...
Uncut its perfect
The movie is a violent and gritty portrayal of the Crusades era in medieval times, but wrestles artfully with complex issues of faith, morality, justice and diversity and what it means to live a godly life. Apparently, the studio decided such thematic depth was a drawback and that audiences are mostly superficial morons, so they insisted on an edit that presented it as an action movie, leaving in just enough character development to feebly sew the action scenes together. In the process, not only character motivation was lost, but important plot developments in the story.
After watching the shorter edit first--which seemed disjointed and filled with holes in the way of crappy edits--I had to read go look up the movie's synopsis online to understand what the hell I had watched. In the director's cut, it was much clearer. But the biggest difference is the thought-provoking character development and dialogue scenes throughout that bring an intelligence to the primitive times being depicted.
At the end of the studio edit, I felt uninspired and filled with a sense that the movie had many missed opportunities.
Then I learned there was a second version--a director's cut. At the end of that version, I felt I had seen a real movie with real ideas. And I was left thinking about it.
Ridley Scott has had some bad luck with studio interference in his edits, most memorably with the two versions of "Blade Runner." You would think they'd trust his instincts after all this time.
Admittedly, Kingdom of Heaven is still beautifully photographed, and features superb cinematography ( With the exception of a couple of easy to notice greenscreens, and a lot of badly saturated sequences during the catapult attack in the battle of Hattin ). The production design is also very good, and at least it seems as though visually Scott's quality has not diminished in this film.
So, technically Kingdom of Heaven is not a bad film, but in terms of substance, the audience is left wanting. Orlando Bloom's Balian is a Mary Sue, a seemingly perfect moral character with no obvious flaws. Of course, he does kill a priest at the start ( Who apparently was his own brother aswell ) in an absolutely laughable sequence, giving him the obligatory 'absolve my sins' character arc that has become such a cliché. Apart from this sequence, he is a complete Mary Sue, resulting in a completely uninteresting, superficial character. ( The priest didn't matter anyway... since Christian priests are EVIL! )We do not care about Balian's plight, because he is a cartoonish nonsense character as to what Scott considers to be 'a good Christian'. Of course, Orlando Bloom also plays him with absolutely zero emotional intensity. He is a wooden plank, and should stick to smaller supporting roles such as in The Lord of the Rings, because this man cannot lead a movie. His supposedly poignant scenes with King Baldwin are a joke because of him, and his 'romance' ( If you can even call it that ) with Eva Green's character has absolutely no charisma whatsoever.
Of course, the only real bad guys in this picture are Templars high in fanaticism or ignorant Christian xenophobic priests. The only 'good Christians' are the ones that are struggling with their religion, putting the 'people' before everything else, even their religion. The Muslims are depicted as victims, and their siege near the end is being justified by Scott by showing us these atrocities the Templars have committed, such as destroying a convoy of unarmed civilians. As everyone with half a brain knows, this is pure fantasy. Historical accuracy is being sacrificed for a ham-fisted social message that is not only naive, but extremely dangerous. ( At the end of the real battle of Hattin, many Christians were sold into slavery by Muslim leader Saladdin, but this little detail is of course left out ) It is obvious that this is all influenced by modern day events where the left villainizes patriots concerned about their own country, and i think ( Because of the title card near the end stating that Jerusalem still has this dispute 1000 years later ) that the film is not just an assault on Christianity, but also on Jews to be more 'open-minded'. The Templars are also complete morons, as there is a scene in which a small Templar force attack an entire Muslim army. Of course, on the contrary, the Muslims are depicted as intelligent & sophisticated. It really becomes an utter joke of cultural relativism ( The principle that all cultures are equal, and compatible with eachother, which history has already deemed to be false at every turn ).
Apart from the obvious moral self exaltation, we are also subjected to a final hour which seems like a literal ripoff from The Lord of the Rings, as some shots are nearly indistinguishable from Jackson's masterpiece. However, since we have a main character not worthy of relatability since he is horribly acted and written as a modern day Mary Sue, there is no emotional connection to this sequence at all, leaving it dead and lifeless. Of course, visually and technically there is nothing wrong with it, but Kingdom of Heaven is indeed one of those pictures to which you can apply the term 'Style without substance'. Scott has also admitted himself that the whole point of this movie was to show that 'Not everyone in the West is good, and not every Muslim is bad', showing us his total lack of focus on cinematic quality, while instead focusing more on creating a heavy handed social message. There is even a scene in which Saladdin picks up a crucifix, and puts it on the table as a sign of respect for their religion ( Subtle, Scott.... real subtle... ). Again it's kind of a young boy's fantasy in how Scott sees this world.
Kingdom of Heaven is a visually and technically excellent film, but does not have any substance whatsoever. The entire plot is driven by leftist subjective social messages that will not impress nor fool the intelligent viewer, while creating such a naive muddled morality in the character of Balian that it really only becomes a laughing stock piece of propaganda.
A complete surprise - not what I expected. One of those movies that builds you into a slow capture. But once they have you hooked, you are definitely hooked.
Finding a reason to hold on after the suicide death of his wife, Balian (Orlando Bloom) , a village blacksmith, is visited one day by a traveler named Godfrey (Liam Neeson), a man claiming to be his father. At first, he spurns him and turns him away. But after Balian kills the village priest for having his wife beheaded in death (because she was a suicide), he rides out to meet Godfrey who is headed to the holy land. It is the story of a blacksmith who became the savior of the people of Jerusalem despite and against impossible odds. It is a love story as well, between Balian and the Sibylla, the Queen of Jerusalem.
This is a very good movie with sweeping landscapes, incredible cinematography and strong characters. Orlando Bloom's acting was spot on here - going from a content and quiet life as a blacksmith to a leader of war. But, he was never over-the-top or unrealistic in his portrayal - nothing "grand" or "majestic". He was a good man with good morals - and even as the leader who would defy great odds, he was still quiet in his ways, yet effective. The battle scenes, in particular the siege of Jerusalem, were jaw dropping and that is where the strength of this movie is - along with the underlying musical score, which was very well done.
I would recommend this movie highly. It starts slow and builds - but the scenes are all very well crafted and filmed. I loved "Kingdom of Heaven" - it is a film of majesty. It's a part of my own personal collection and I will watch it again down the road.
When i first saw "Kingdom of Heaven" back in 2005, i saw of course theatrical version, which run at around 2 h 10 min. It was just an OK movie, but quickly forgettable and a bit messy. I was disappointed as i was expected this big great epic. Now some years later i stumble upon the "Director's Cut" of this movie, which was more then 45-50 min longer then its theatrical version and desired to see it. What i can safely say - the "Director's Cut" of "Kingdom of Heaven" is one of the few if not the best example of how a new cut (true vision) can turn the whole movie around in the best possible way. I simply loved Director's Cut of "Kingdom of Heaven". It had so many great story lines, which enriched this movie - so many character which in the "original" sounded and looked like out of place now had a true meaning with their actions and true consequences.
Overall, please see "Director's Cut" of "Kingdom of Heaven" if you haven't seen it. It is definitely one of the very best examples of how true director's vision can change the movie into a truly great cinema.
The first hour promises a superbly crafted and written epic historical movie with dense, intelligent dialog and characters. This hour involves the set-up: An idealistic-minded blacksmith in mourning for his wife and child, finds himself en route to Jerusalem along with a newly discovered father. It's only after this hour that things fall apart.
His traitorous fanatically Christian brother provides the religious catapult for the rest of the movie that involves Holy Land politics, crusades and battles.
The sets and costumes look great (to this historically untrained eye at least). And the couple of battle scenes are epic in scale as only Ridley Scott can create.
For starters, Orlando Bloom is passable, but pretty flat as the protagonist. Eva Green is an intense superb actress, but her character is way too modern and liberated for this movie.
As soon as we get to Jerusalem, all of a sudden it becomes a preachy liberal movie with modern idealistic sensibilities, bias, re-interpretation of history and anachronisms galore. There are no really devout Christians, only hypocritical fanatics, Jews are practically nowhere to be seen, and the Arabs are noble, honorable and tolerant people.
There are also some insulting plot developments that try to convince us that Balian the liberal is an idealistic leader. The village he moves into is dry for hundreds of years, and as soon as he arrives they dig and find a well. Evidently, Arabs living in this land had no idea how to dig a well until a European came along. Same goes for his basic and obvious advice to seasoned war veterans about soldiers needing water.
Regarding the people: Even if you were to argue that there was a period where the religions lived together in Jerusalem, it would hardly be the tolerant utopia this movie would have you believe. There would be outbreaks of attacks and intolerance, second-class citizens and treatments, and so on. We know this from thousands of years of history in many countries.
A quick look at the actual historical events in this movie reveals a completely different story than this liberal fantasy movie: Balian initially promised to Saladin never to fight him. Christians had to absolve him of his oath to protect Jerusalem because they decided Christianity is more important than an oath to a non-Christian. Before Saladin took Jerusalem he offered peaceful terms of surrender and they refused. It's only after the siege started that he refused terms. Balian then threatened to kill all Muslims in the city and destroy Muslim holy sites if he didn't offer them quarter. And then they had to pay ransom as part of their surrender, and many of the people were enslaved.
So not only does history blatantly contradict the events in this movie, it depicts very different people, leaders and motivations and the liberalism this movie fantasizes about is nowhere to be seen.
But even as a non-historical fantasy, this movie simply makes no sense. The real fatal problem of this movie is that this movie has agnostics, liberals, atheists and religious people that only pay lip-service to religion, all fighting religious wars with no apparent motivation. Why would a tolerant leader defend a city in a hopeless war against another tolerant leader, if he explicitly states that all he cares about is the people? If that's the case, give up the city and negotiate a peace! In this movie, we have two completely religiously unmotivated but noble and honorable leaders waging battle over a meaningless city without even trying to negotiate before it starts. And then only after they are done dying by the thousands, they simply surrender with the most honorable terms possible when they could have simply done this to begin with. The actual historical version of this story makes a lot more sense in terms of motivations, whereas this fantasy doesn't even begin to make sense.
In summary, the liberal agenda in this movie is so desperate to re-interpret history with its bias, it fails to see that the people and story make no sense as soon as this is done. Therefore it fails both as a history lesson and as a fantasy movie.
Even though I'm somewhat familiar with this history, I make no claims of even remotely being a scholar in this context, so I did not enter into this film experience with that particular orientation.
Of course there is going to be drama, romantic interests, various intrigues which may not match the real history, but that's not really the focal point here. What is the focal point, and what is well conveyed is an immersion into a unique time and cultural era, with its various complexities, conflicts, and intrigues which very much shaped the history that has led to our current world.
As for the production itself, the scenes and camera work are absolutely first rate.
" Ridley Scott received many letters of thanks and congratulations from Muslim groups for his even-handed depiction of the religion. " I can believe that, as I was keenly aware of the delicate nature of portraying this history in such a production, but came away with the feeling that this was a genuinely even-handed effort to deliver this theatrical vision of the time.
As for the cast, where to even start?
Well, the short version is, A+ crew throughout, don't think this could have been cast any better.
But for my personal favorites here, hands down top of the list are Liam Neeson, and Eva Green.
Of course, I freely admit I could watch either of these two in just about anything, and not be lacking for joy in the experience.
Having said that, the performance of everyone here was absolutely spot on. This is a film I've watched more than once, and will watch again.
Without hesitation, 10 stars . . . well done!
Among the movie, what I found that stands out most is the depiction of battle. After watching movies your whole life you are nearly numb to it but this movie has done it refreshingly well. Some battle scenes of the movie left my mouth hanging open, a feat only achieved by LOTR previously.
So many of the cast are names and faces you will recognise, it is a shame they did not have more screen time! Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendon Gleeson and Michael Sheen, all were such a pleasure to watch, I wish they had more screen time.
Another thing that stood out, was the acting of some of the lesser characters! Negative characters played so dastardly well, it was a pleasure watching them on the screen.
You tend to forget what an amazing visionary Ridley Scott is, but this film has firmly reminded me he is one of the greatest directors of our time. A good film, a serious topic, a fantastic director and a stellar cast.