Kingdom of Heaven 2005 Movie Scene Orlando Bloom as Balian de Ibelin in full armor riding his horse outside Jerusalem

Kingdom of Heaven [2005]

Each night I go over all the movies I have on standby and each night I skip over this one. The three-hour runtime was just too daunting. And yet I did not delete this movie as I knew that its time would come. I suggest you do the same, just have it on standby and wait for that perfect time. Since the holidays are fast approaching, I think you might see it sooner than you think. Kingdom of Heaven is an epic historical drama following a French crusader defending the Kingdom of Jerusalem from both internal and external threats. Directed by Ridley Scott and featuring an all-star cast, this is a huge movie.

While some of the characters and events are real, some are completely fictional. The hero of our story Balian of Ibelin, did actually exist and he was the leader of the defense of Jerusalem. The story itself can be divided into three parts. We will spend the first getting to know our hero better as well as how life was treating him back in France. The second part explores the rule of King Baldwin IV and how frail the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem actually was. The third and the juiciest part is a huge battle. So, you should know that Kingdom of Heaven is not an action-packed historical epic like Gladiator. And yet it’s much grander in scale than Scott’s most recent period movie The Last Duel.

Scott and William Monahan wanted to make a movie about religious conflict while the studios wanted something else. A more aloof action-adventure movie they can sell to the audiences. This is why Scott disowned the theatrical cut of the movie proudly standing behind his Director’s Cut. And that’s the version I watched last night. Clocking in at three hours and thirteen minutes, it’s a perfectly paced, exquisitely edited, and highly immersive epic. However, I do have to say that his somewhat heavy-handed messaging regarding life, religion, justice, and honor was a bit much.

There’s nothing wrong with this decision, it just feels a bit out of place in this, otherwise, beautifully poetic movie. A movie that does justice to the Muslims, painting them in a realistic, neutral light. And it does this just a couple of years after the madness surrounding the horrific 9/11 attacks. While I’m writing these lines, the city of Jerusalem along with this entire region just enters a new phase of turmoil. It would appear that history is repeating itself again led by a tribal system of values and its extension, religion. The roles keep changing but the human misery remains the same.

Moving on, it’s kind of hard to describe the utter beauty of Kingdom of Heaven. Right from the opening scene, this movie smacks you in the head with its cinematic splendor. It doesn’t matter if the scene is small in scale or it features the entire city of Jerusalem, its visual impact remains the same. Ridley Scott has a knack for fleshing out the world, both natural and artificial. I mean, we’re talking about the director of both Alien and Blade Runner. However, we shouldn’t forget about his historic epics 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Exodus: Gods and Kings.

More importantly, Scott keeps insisting on practical effects, using CGI only when it’s absolutely necessary. For example, the huge siege towers you see in the movie are real, built from scratch, and weighing over 25 tons. There are 1200 different flags in this freaking movie and the budget for this section alone was $250.000. Add to this more than 15.000 costumes and you see what a huge project this is. To top things off we have a giant replica of the city of Jerusalem encompassing more than 28,000 square meters (301,389 square feet). And yet the budget for the entire movie Kingdom of Heaven was just $130 million.

I’m guessing everyone wanted to work on such an ambitious project knowing that Scott will most likely pull it off. This is the main reason why Orlando Bloom joined the cast fresh off the set of another historic epic, Troy. And just a couple of years earlier he was working on Lord of the Rings. I would also like to single out ravishing Eva Green and mystical David Thewlis. Their performances here were absolutely amazing. And you can say the same thing about almost the entire ensemble cast. I mean, Edward Norton plays motherfucking king and we see his face in just one scene. 

Although that’s for the best as Baldwin IV of Jerusalem is also known as The Leper King. And yes, he actually did rule Jerusalem as you can read for yourself here. This is perhaps an unintended consequence of these epics, an increased interest in history. For example, if you caught the bug watching this movie, I highly suggest you check out Rise of Empires: Ottoman. The first season focuses on the Battle of Constantinople while the second one on the war with Vlad the Impaler. And I think you already know who he is.

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: William Monahan

Cast: Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Eva Green, David Thewlis, Marton Csokas, Alexander Siddig

Fun Facts: Dody Dorn, the editor of both the theatrical and director’s cut versions of the movie, worked for almost a year and half on them.


IMDb Link:

YouTube player