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Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven

Movie Info

RATING:

R for strong violence and epic warfare.

RELEASE:

May 6, 2005

GENRE:

Action/Adventure, Drama

STARRING:

Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER:

Ridley Scott

SCREENWRITER:

William Monahan

DISTRIBUTOR:

20th Century Fox

 

Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.

MOVIE REVIEW

Kingdom of Heaven

By Elliott Ryan
Guest Reviewer

CBN.com For many Christians in the church today, the period of church history known as the Crusades is not a very familiar subject. After watching Kingdom of Heaven, a new movie directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) set during the Crusades, the Crusades won’t be much more familiar. The movie focuses very little on the events leading up to and following one battle in that period of war. It also doesn’t talk a whole lot about the motives (religious and otherwise) for the nations involved in the Crusade battles.

But the film does an excellent job of telling the story of Muslim warrior Saladin leading his troops to capture Jerusalem from the Christian Europeans that controlled it at the time. The Holy Land is, of course, revered by the followers of all three of the world’s major religions. But this story is focused on a man finding honor after entering an environment where war seemed inevitable.

Orlando Bloom stars as a blacksmith named Balian whose wife and child had both recently died. Balian is united with a father he never knew who leads him to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Balian is made a knight by his father (a baron played by Liam Neeson). After arriving in Jerusalem, he earns the favor of the King who is dying of leprosy. The King has managed to keep the peace between the Christian inhabitants of Israel and the Muslims who also wished to worship in the Promised Land. But some barons were attempting to destroy that and cause a war with the Muslims, led by Saladin.

The King’s successor ends up being one of these war-mongerers who was married to Sibylla, princess of Jerusalem (Eva Green). The new king (Guy de Lusignan played by Marton Csokas) disliked Balian’s peaceful ways. What Guy may or may not have known (the story makes this unclear) is that Balian was having an affair with Sybilla. Discord grows among the Christian barons over whether or not to pick a fight with the Muslims. Balian attempted to prevent war from breaking out. But once it had started, Balian sought to keep the residents of Jerusalem safe during the onslaught on the city.

The battle scenes are very well done, as is a tradition in Ridley Scott movies. The fights are very realistic looking. The acting is all high quality as well. Bloom (who is best known for his role as an elf sidekick in The Lord of the Rings movies or as a pirate sidekick in Pirates of the Caribbean) comes into his own as a lead actor.

As is the case with most Hollywood productions based on reality, this movie takes some liberties with the historical facts. The main characters of this film were all people who actually existed in history. But fictional details were added to the story for creative purposes. For example, Balian’s wife and children were all living at the time of the Crusades.

Another fictional storyline added in to the movie is the romance between Balian and Sybilla. Their adulterous relationship never took place in their real lives. Of course, it only barely takes place in the movie. The story of their romance is not fleshed out very well. Only a few brief clips of the movie refer to their relationship. Obviously, a romance would only be a side story in a movie about battle. But why create a fictional romance in a historical epic and then do very little to make viewers care anything about that story?

Scott has developed a reputation for bloody war movies. This movie lives up to that reputation. The violence, while painting a realistic portrait of what battle would have looked like at the time, may be disturbing for younger viewers. This movie earns its R rating.

The Passion has shown that Christian audiences may not mind sitting through a violent, bloody movie if there is a spiritual message of inspiration. But this movie says very little about the religions on either side of the battle. In fact, religious leaders on both sides are made out to be fools. Organized religion is not painted in a very positive light. The movie does however contain a moral lesson that people of different nations and religions should strive for peace. That is as close as this movie comes to inspiration.

More from CBN.com's In-depth look at the Crusades

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