Film & DVD Review: Kingdom of Heaven

Country: USA / Spain / UK
Language: English / Arabic / German
Certification: Australia:MA / Canada:13+ (Quebec) / Canada:14A (Alberta) / Canada:18A (British Columbia) / Finland:K-15 / France:U / Germany:12 / Hong Kong:IIB / Ireland:15A / Italy:T / Japan:PG-12 / Norway:15 / Singapore:NC-16 / South Korea:15 / Spain:13 / UK:15 / USA:R
Duration: 145 min

Reviewed by Jacqueline Sharp

First of all I’d like to say well done to Ridley Scott! He has directed a very beautiful movie. It held my attention all the way through. Ridley won five Oscars with Gladiator. His other successes include Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and Black Hawk Down.

Ridley’s Kingdom of Heaven is a beautiful movie, it is full of passion. The passion of one mans journey searching for peace, and in the process coming up against obstacles and power plays.

The movie has dimension, colour and balance; the balance being that the battle scenes do not overshadow the script, character development and personal scenes.

The battle scenes are not boring or long-winded. They are well scripted and have an intelligent view of strategy and tactics. They draw you in, involving you emotionally in the highs and lows of a battle with a purpose.

Scott, as director has painted a picture – and what a terrific masterpiece it is! Kingdom of Heaven is energetic, colourful and vibrant!!!

Ridley Scott certainly had a clear vision of how he wanted this movie to be. His drive and determination will hopefully gain him some credit in the form of film awards, which is any director’s icing on the cake.

Overall the acting is great! There is a rich mixture of well-known actors, such as; Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Iain Glen, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis and Edward Norton. One relative newcomer to watch out for in the future would be Eva Green, who played Sibylla – she was amazing in her part.

Orlando Bloom, (Balian), is terrific in his role, in part as Balian he plays a sensitive man, not an aggressive man, but just a man searching for peace with god. As it says in the Old Testament: “You will find Me, if only you seek Me wholeheartedly” Jeremiah 29:13.

Balian on his journey tries to come to terms with his past and the death of his wife committing suicide. Along the way he meets up with his long lost father, Godfrey, (Liam Neeson). His father was a well-respected Knight who served King Baldwin, (Edward Norton).

Balian takes over his father’s hereditary title as Knight after his death.

He has also inherited the role of serving the King, and helping the people. In the process he becomes a Warrior and saviour to the realm. He fights to save Christian Jerusalem from falling prey to the Muslims (as he sees it). He also falls in love with a married woman, who just happens to be Queen to his rival enemy Guy de Lusignan, (Marton Csokas).

The castle scenes are impressive. The production team used Loarre Castle in Northern Spain for these. Spain proved to be a popular choice with the producers with filming taking place in Segovia, Sevilla and Avila. The Moroccan desert was their ideal choice to replicate Jerusalem itself in Quarzazate. Amazing! It’s hard to believe that Jerusalem could be recreated in such seemingly authentic detail.

Kingdom of Heaven cost 75 million to make! I say it was money well spent. The armour, medieval costumes and settings are a joy and they will captivate you. One of the aspects that make this movie so good is its sheer splendour.

I loved the fact that there was a mixture of Muslim and English actors: the mix of accents and dialects give credibility.

I have to say that King Richard Lionheart, had a very minor role at the end of the movie. Perhaps he should have had a slightly bigger role in the main part of the story.

Academics and Scholars will of course debate the movie for its historical accuracy. It has caused some controversy. If you want my opinion go with an open mind. I have not taken a biased view about the historical facts and give you the choice to gather information. Whether you choose to check it out before, after or not at all is up to you. All I’ll say, as a reviewer is to give this movie credibility for the acting, directing, costumes, music, photography and settings.

I highly recommend this movie!!!

PRODUCTION COMPANIES

  • 20th Century Fox, (USA)
  • Scott Free Productions, (GB)
  • Kanzaman S.A, (ES) DIRECTOR Ridley Scott

    SCREENWRITER

    William Monahan

    CAST

  • Martin Hancock, (Gravedigger)
  • Michael Sheen, (Priest)
  • Nathalie Cox, (Balian’s Wife)
  • Eriq Ebouaney, (Firuz)
  • Jouko Ahola, (Odo)
  • David Thewlis, (Hospitaler)
  • Liam Neeson, (Godfrey)
  • Philip Glenister, (Squire)
  • Orlando Bloom, (Balian)
  • Bronson Webb, (Apprentice)
  • Kevin McKidd, (English Sergeant)
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, (Village Sheriff)
  • Steven Robertson, (Angelic Priest)
  • Marton Csokas, (Guy de Lusignan)
  • Alexander Siddig, (Nasir)
  • Michael Shaeffer, (Young Sergeant)
  • Eva Green, (Sibylla)
  • Brendan Gleeson, (Reynald)
  • Nasser Memarzia, (Muslim Grandee)
  • Jeremy Irons, (Tiberias)
  • Jon Finch, (Jerusalem)
  • Edward Norton, (King Baldwin)
  • Lotfi Yahya Jedidi, (Old Ibelin Housekeeper) , (as Lofti Yahya Jedidi)
  • Samira Draa, (Sibylla’s Maid)
  • Ulrich Thomsen, (Templar Master)
  • Matthew Rutherford, (Rider)
  • Michael Fitzgerald, (Humphrey)
  • Ghassan Massoud, (Saladin)
  • Khaled El Nabaoui, (Mullah (as Khaled Nabawy)
  • Karim Salah, (Saracen Messenger (as Karim Saleh)
  • Shane Attwooll, (Reynald’s Templar Knight)
  • Giannina Facio, (Saladin’s Sister)
  • Emilio Doorgasingh, (Saracen Engineer)
  • Peter Cant, (Peasant Boy)
  • Angus Wright, (Richard’s Knight)
  • Iain Glen, (Richard Coeur de Lion) FURTHER READING Go to Jan Hosten 2004 article, Movie Distorts Crusader and Templar History. This article is a must read!

    Contributer’s to Jan’s article are; Dr Jonathan Phillips, Lecturer in History at London University and author of The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople. Amin Maalouf, French historian and author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Professor Riley-Smith, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, and author of The Oxford History of the Crusades Separately to Jan’s article, you may wish to check out an interview with Paolo Morisi and Professor Riley-Smith.

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