Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut)
Pros: Plot pacing and character development is improved ten-fold
Cons: Anyone who has seen the theatrical release and found themselves undecided whether to like or dislike this film; owe it to themselves to fully be able to make that choice.
Kingdom Of Heaven (2005) is an epic action film directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator) and stars Orlando Bloom (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy) as Balian, Eva Green (Casino Royale) as Princess Sibylla, Jeremy Irons (The Man In The Iron Mask ) as Tiberias the Marshal of Jerusalem, Edward Norton (American History X) as King Baldwin IV, and Liam Neeson (Excalibur, Clash Of The Titans 2010) as Baron Godfrey of Ibalin, just to name a few of the most memorable.
Brief Plot Summary:
In the year of 1184, an illegitimate son of a Crusader Knight, named Balian, has just received a personal invitation, from his otherwise unknown father, to leave his hometown of France and return to Jerusalem with him and his Crusader Knights. Reluctantly Balian agrees and begins to learn of his role as the new Baron of Ibalin. Seeking to receive forgiveness for his wife who had committed suicide and to redeem his faith in God, Balian arrives in Jerusalem to find it in a religious upheaval.
A group of mercenary knights known as Crusaders defend Jerusalem known as “The Holy Land” from an Islamic people known as the Saracens and Saladin (Ghassan Massoud), leader of the Muslim forces, who claim to have been stripped of their right to the Holy Land over 100 years ago.. Now, with the majority of the Crusader Knights led by Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas) and Raynald of Châtillon (Brendan Gleeson), they raid and pillage under the guise of Christendom and provoke a war that could bring the peace treaty, kept in place by King Baldwin IV, to it’s very knees.
It will ultimately fall upon Balian to restore peace for not only the Christians and Jews but also for Muslims. If Balian is to accomplish this feat; he must turn against fanaticism caused by religion and resort to understanding the importance of free will and by making the right choices and preserving moral consciousness.
Acting and Cinematography:
The acting was very convincing by the entire cast and from the supporting actors involved. Most notable to me were Orlando Bloom who did not seem to remind me of his character from The Lord of the Rings and from Edward Norton who displayed much emotion despite being restricted of facial expressions by a steel mask that hid his entire face. The set locations were visually awing and become the focal point of making this film a three hour journey of pure “eye-candy”. There are gorgeous landscapes and impressive costume designs that appear to be true/accurate to the time period.
My Opinion Of The Film:
I had seen the butchered version of this film when it first was released and was quite disappointed. This abridged version of the film left much to be desired. Epic battle sequences would consist of a large amount of build-up and then end just as quickly as they began. As an example; cuts were made in the middle of fight scenes and would end with a showing of the aftermath. Huge gaps in character development made following the complicated story-lines difficult and combined with missing sections of the battle scenes only left much to be desired and not much to be remembered.
When I first heard about a re-issue of this film in its entirety and as intended by director Ridley Scott, I became very excited and pessimistic of any real improvements. So often there are “Directors Cuts” that accomplish nothing more than adding deleted scenes and providing little depth to the plot or pacing of the film. I was very uncertain that this film would do any better. Proudly I can assure my readers that in the case of this film…that could be no further from the end result of Kingdom Of Heaven now shown in its entirety. Plot pacing and character development is improved ten-fold. Scenes that did not seem to make much sense can now easily be understood with great clarity.
Let’s face it; a movie that consists of so much plot detail and historical depth cannot be rushed through and be able to remain “epic”. This film and its story are truly epic in scale and vision. I was immediately glued to my seat the entire time and was on more than several occasions uttering the word “wow”. I wanted to see more of the battle scenes that were previously cut out and boy does this version deliver!
Characters that I did not really care about before suddenly become important and provided me the emotional attachment that I longed for. Anyone who has seen the theatrical release and found themselves undecided whether to like or dislike this film… owe it to themselves to fully be able to make that choice. In the words of Ridley Scott during the introduction of this version cannot be stated any better and further expands my POV here:
“When you’re flying into the third act; there are some elements in here that some people might argue as being, too long or take too long to get there, but I think you should see what it is and judge for yourself..” – Ridley Scott