Skip to comments.'Kingdom of Heaven' – Truth in Limbo - (tour de force review!)
Posted on 05/09/2005 4:47:54 PM PDT by CHARLITE
These days it seems that whenever Hollywood meets history, history gets the squeeze.
Last year "King Arthur," "Troy" and "Alexander" were put through the revisionist wringer. Today it's the factually challenged movie "Kingdom of Heaven" whose historical content appears to have been schmushed.
"Kingdom of Heaven"'s director Ridley Scott recently took a cue from Cecil B. DeMille and chose the Crusades as the subject of his latest epic. This is the same fellow who brought us "Gladiator" and "Blade Runner," which makes me wonder: How did a talented filmmaker like Scott get stuck with an incoherent script like this? It's understandable that a film dealing with the ancient battles that took place between European Christians and followers of Islam might seek to make some modern-day comparisons. But is it really necessary to stuff the screen with the kind of pseudo-humanistic claptrap that could make a knight dump his armor on eBay?
As is typical of today's Tinseltown chronicling, fiction is fused with fact, much to the chagrin of the more informed filmgoer.
The movie takes place in 1184, sometime between the Second and Third Crusade. At the top of the film the audience is introduced to a young blacksmith named Balian (played by Orlando Bloom). Balian receives a visit from Godfrey of Ibelin (played by Liam Neeson), who claims to have fathered him and is seeking forgiveness for having done so illegitimately.
After a few conversations with Godfrey, Balian switches out of his horse-shoeing duds and opts for Crusader couture instead. In a Middle Age minute, the guy transforms himself into the most formidable knight in town. He also starts stealing a page from MoveOn.org and some guidance counseling tips from Dr. Phil.
While on his deathbed, Godfrey knights Balian and instructs him to pursue the vision of a "kingdom of heaven," where Christians, Muslims and Jews can peacefully party together. Balian eventually finds himself as a stand-in for the king of Jerusalem and in a position to surrender the city to the Muslim army. But this doesn't happen until he's killed a creepy priest, given up on organized religion, tossed his faith out the door and joined the ranks of the "can't we all just get along" crowd.
The film has a certain cinematic allure for some. If you like lots of head-splitting, side-piercing, gut-wrenching, limb-flying battling between foes, then this flick is for you. If you like a hefty dose of accuracy with your historically based entertainment, then it's not. In part, here's why.
The film depicts Muslim leader Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem, with his forces breaking through the wall of the city during the final battle. But the actual battle was outside the city in a place known as Hattin. That's why it's called the Battle of Hattin.
On another note, in order to provoke Saladin, the knights knock off his sister. The truth is she was held up but never snuffed out.
But to me, the real problem with the movie's authenticity is the way it interjects sappy messages into the story line. Exceedingly clear is who the heroes are, and likewise who the villains are. Saladin (who, in one scene, respectfully cradles a fallen cross) is portrayed as a wise, seasoned and noble leader.
In contrast, Guy de Lusignan, crony Sir Reynald, and the Knights Templar are shown as bloodthirsty, empty-headed warmongers. And as you might have predicted, the Christian clergy are cast as cowardly hypocrites who want to kill "infidels."
Many who see the "Kingdom of Heaven" may not realize that the Crusades were actually defensive in nature. Christians didn't act until the Muslims had conquered two-thirds of the Western World, and the Crusaders believed that they were restoring formerly Christian territories to their rightful status.
In the film the only Christian good guys are Balian, leper-King of Jerusalem Baldwin IV and his minister Tiberius. But unlike other Christians in the flick, these folks aren't motivated by religious faith. Instead they spout a form of modernist egalitarian drivel that sounds like it was written by Dennis Kucinich.
Balian makes a dramatic speech before the final battle where he tells the assembled throng that the Muslim army, which is about to attack and kill all of them, has just as much right to rule as its Christian counterpart does. Rather than a call to arms, Balian gives his troops a call to multiculturalism. If a real medieval commander had given such a speech, he'd have been chopped into tiny little pieces.
Which is probably what should have happened to that section of the footage, along with all the other PC portions.
Now now...from just this review I can guess this is a film about tolerance and the validity of all ideas, not just those extreme western principals.
Orlando Bloom practices some kind of trendy Buddhism, which kind of tells you all you need to know.
Well hells bells, if Tom Cruise can become an extraordinary Samurai, then Orlando Bloom can become an extraordinary Knight. God wills it!
"Nichiren Shoshu" Buddhism
We agreed the actual history of any era one wants to discuss is so much more interesting than any Hollywoodized crap, why do they continue to do those things.
Can anyone who saw this movie tell me if this is an accuate portrayal? Would be much appreciated, since I don't "go to the movies"...I buy them for home entertainment.
||Anyone who thought this movie was going to be even remotely representative of history needs a massage.|
In the meantime, I'm going to load up my DVD of "Lawrence of Arabia"...
I was looking forward to this film.
Im glad I got a review before I wasted my money on it.
hollywood claptrap indeed :(
I told him he should try his hand at it.
He said "I don't have a history degree."
"All the better," I said.
LOA is a classic maybe I rewatch my DVD as well L0L
Have to agree, this Scott film didn't even get close to being another "Gladiator". Everything that was real to being human, which a viewer could relate to in Gladiator, (the evil emperor,the burning desire for just revenge, the passions of the man with his losses and his triumphs, his role as adopted son,friend and leader, etc.)was lost in "Kingdom".
Pondering on it, I first thought the cause was a bad screenplay. At times it was so formula. And the words coming out of the actors' mouths, how lofty and sometimes highbrow..."A king does not kill another king." It was as if everyone wanted to believed what they were espousing, but there was no tension, no sense of fear, no rousing inner spirit to gives way to moving speeches, those whichh touch the human emotions of the other characters, there wasn't even any fanatical passion (on either warring side, Christian or Muslim) before, during or after their bloody battles.
Wish it had been a better film, I went to see it wanting to be inspired as I was at Scott and Crowe's collaboration of Gladiator.
Is this a new take-out dish? Does it come with fortune cookies?
Well I saw the movie this past saturday and I did like it. But then I do not go to movies to have them verify my world view.
The heros in the movie were courageous, the villians vile. The last stand by Baelin and his handful of knights at Jeruselem was inspiring.
As a historic document, the movie left a lot to be desired. As a sword and sandal flick, it was quite good. I was entertained, and that is what I spent my money for.
I sure hope it was better than Troy
Soka Gakkai, which literally means Establishing Value Education Society, was founded in Japan in 1930 as a fraternal auxiliary to Nichiren Shoshu, the largest sect of Nichiren Buddhism. One of the results of this outreach is that Soka Gakkai has been much more effective than any other group at attracting non-Asian minority converts, chiefly black and Latino, to Buddhism. It has also been successful in attracting the support of celebrities, such as Tina Turner, Herbie Hancock, and Orlando Bloom.
Then you wouldn't mind FDR depicted as a homosexual? (Why was he always smiling with that cigarette holder in his mouth?)
"Make the world a better place" Yep that's a line that appear in all history books about that time period.
Monotone plot, monotone characters, monotone love story.
And a really bad line "How do you get to Jerusalem? Go until you hear Italian spoken, then keep going until you hear something else spoken," was spoken not once, but TWICE!
I concur. I did enjoy the film and ignored the preaching. As far as the Christian bashing goes it seems to me that in the end it's God and man one on one and in this none of us can hide.
Religion is intended to foster community, fellowship, and help us to control our baser natures. Religion also teaches us more about scripture and how it applies to our everyday lives. After this I guess it is about power and ego. After all, religions are made up of men.
One of the great joys of writing reviews apparently is writing clever reviews trashing a big blockbustter. But I think a lot of what this reviewer has to say is unfair. For instance, Balian does say in his "big speech" that the Muslims has just as much right to the city as the Christians ... but what he ultimately goes on to say to his followers is that they are not fighting for the stones of the city, however holy, but for the lives of their families who are living within the city, and that if the defenders fall, their families will die. Dunno about you, tovarisch, but that would motivate me!
I nearly did not go to see KOH after reading the wretched reviews, but finally did drag my husband to see it with me -- and both of us, picky viewers that we are, enjoyed it very much. We agreed it was miles better than "Alexander" but not as good as the final movie of LOTR. The cinematography was outstanding, as were the sets and the set dressing (though as for costumes, I was amused to note that Orlando looks very "seventies" in some of his dashiki shirts, or whatever they are -- very trendy fashionwise!). The opening sequence was particularly evocative, with lovely use of weather to set a mood.
We did not go to this movie to learn the history of the Crusades. I assumed it was only loosely based on history (if that), so finding out that it is not accurate is not a big problem for me. People who go to the movies to learn history probably thought "JFK" was factual too.
I did think that the Muslims were let off lightly, though I did not think that the Christians were unduly censored. A distinction was drawn between the Crusaders and the Knights Templar, with the KT vilified (rightly or wrongly, I don't know). And to say that the character of Balian is irreligious is just wrong, IMHO. He is drawn instead as someone who wants to believe, but has run up against some big stumbling blocks. (No one who is an arrogant atheist sits around all night on Golgotha freezing his butt for the sake of enlightenment!)
My biggest quibble was twofold: they showed Balian, the blacksmith, as being both literate and an excellent swordsman, without explaining either property. In that time period, the *village blacksmith* would have probably been a pretty burly guy, but not much of a swordsman (though he might have been handy with a pike or an axe). And it is improbable in the extreme that he would have been literate.
But ... Orlando Bloom is a fine young actor, and definite eye candy. I give KOH a thumbs-up.
What is the point in telling a story about an historical event if you don't try to get it right? Is it okay to lie about something as long as you do it on film?
Really. It sounds like this movie is political has hell.
When you make a movie about Muslims vs Christians you can choose to tell the truth or you can choose to give Islam a big wet sloppy kiss.
The coward. Mr Scott chose to do the latter because if he told the truth, he risked getting his head cut off
Mornin' to you, too. I love history. And, I love movies that can add knowledge while entertaining us.
I learned a lot about truth and respect from the old B westerns, as a kid. You know, the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys wear black hats. Maybe, they weren't totally accurate, but they promoted ethics, to me. I still love westerns without bloodshed.
I will not go see a movie that promotes hate, visual bloodshed or what I feel is evil. That's my choice. I also won't go to movies that support Hollywood 'Rats.
I guess, going in, I felt that this movie would probably be critical of Christianity. So, I was interested in the review.
I'm rambling. Thanks for the reply.
LOL! Boy I knew that would be the first question that would come out.
But I know exactly what this movie is about because I've read enough reviews from the brave critics who suffered through it so we wouldn't have to. And I've wasted so much money on other politically correct crap just like it.
the defense of Jerusalem part of the film is stirring. It's not historically accurate and much of it's not even plausible but it's still a great scene
Why is it okay to lie about something as long as you do it on film?
I suppose if you are 14 years old, great action trumps everything else but I'm getting tired of politically correct propaganda masquerading as "entertainment". HollowWood has become just like TV, so boring.
Here are a few more opinions on Kingdom of Heaven:
"A historical epic totally destroyed by the infusion of contemporary political correctness and left-wing revisionist history." -- Chuck O'Leary, FANTASTICA DAILY
"The religious sentiment accumulates into a tower of politically correct Jell-O." -- Andrew Sarris, NEW YORK OBSERVER
"An epic about Christian crusaders who happen to be liberal humanists willing to die for the sake of religious tolerance. That's just ... weird." -- David Edelstein, SLATE
"This is the first time a been there, done that mood has permeated a Ridley Scott film." -- Brian Orndorf, FILMJERK.COM
"Bloom comes across as a vapid California surfer boy trying to be a serious "artist." This is an over-long, pretentious bore that I felt like I've seen and didn't like before." -- Michelle Alexandria, ECLIPSE MAGAZINE
"The movie does what any self-respecting politician would do: sidestep the issues, soft-pedal mortal costs, talk a fat game, and divert your attention away from history with exercises in spectacle and power." -- Michael Atkinson, VILLAGE VOICE
"A confused and confusing compromise at best and a dull obfuscation of history at worst." -- Peter Canavese, GROUCHO REVIEWS
"It's clear that Ridley Scott set out here to make as uncontroversial a film about the Crusades as it's possible to do. " -- Jill Cozzi, MIXED REVIEWS
"Yawn. Are the Crusades over yet? Wake me when it's time to leave." -- Boo Allen, DENTON RECORD CHRONICLE (TX)
"A staggeringly lazy, leg-twitchingly dull, unholy mess." -- Phoebe Flowers, SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL
"Could largely be synopsized as the failure of moderate Christians to restrain fanatical Christians from oppressing innocent Muslims, provoking justifiable Muslim retaliation." -- Steven D. Greydanus, DECENT FILMS GUIDE
"Kingdom of Heaven seems ready to anger everyone but the atheists and the action crowd." -- Daniel M. Kimmel, WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
"From watching the film, it s a bit hard to care who conquers." -- Dan Lybarger, EFILMCRITIC.COM
"Bloom s one dimensional effort and a laughably hackneyed script, waste Irons and Neeson in a tale of a religious war with a secular, anti-Christian bias." -- Tony Medley, TONYMEDLEY.COM
"The Crusades lasted just over 200 years, which is longer than Kingdom of Heaven, although not by as much as you might hope." -- Bruce Newman, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
"The climax features a dandy battle, but getting to it requires sitting through nearly two hours of posturing and pontificating." -- Jeff Strickler, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
"...an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, offering up a level of sheer dullness that's shocking..." -- David Nusair, REEL FILM REVIEWS
I might have actually went to the movie if that happened.
And there's a lot more where that came from: Rotten Tomatoes
59% of the critics who saw Kingdom of Heaven gave it a thumbs down.
That's right. Critics are generally to the left of the rest of the population and Red Dawn was not. So if the critics think something is too politically correct you know it must be pretty bad. Also, the more movies you see, the more you tend to become aware of the political agenda of the writers and directors.
And yeah, critics can't make movies but so what? It doesn't take a lot of brains to see a movie and tell us what it was about.
Or to not see it and tell us what it is about. You'll just have to take my word about that.
Bingo! Thank you.
The organizations and cabals that promote the defamations of Christians and Western Christian culture should be held accountable and exposed for their deranged agenda. This knee-jerk anti-Christian jihad of theirs has become rather ridiculous.
This time, they have managed to pollute "formerly Christian territories" throughout western Europe. Who are the "new Crusaders" going to be? Uncle Sam-ites? Who ELSE is going to save Europe (and western civilization) from these Muslim hordes? - Mexico?
The cabals promoting anti-Christian silliness, moral relativism, secular humanism, liberalism, and cultural relativism, have brough this on. Along with the idiotic Malthusian population control freaks and modern social engineering gurus. They have gutted Western culture. And they let the barbarians through the gates. It's a sad, stupid, silly, old story. Now liberals and secular humanists will need to ask conservative Christians to bail them out once again from another social disaster. God knows, it won't be the socialist pansies or liberal disarmanent freaks that will defend Europe and America from Islamo-fascist terror.
....and it won't be Vicente Fox, either.
Thanks so much for a great, well reasoned comment. It is exactly correct in all respects. How can so many millions of people, here and in western Europe, follow so blindly after such liberal socialist fools?
Using this ploy to pursue pleasure with abandon, socialism is then imposed by the oligarchical cultural elite who harbor resentment and hatred towards Christianity for a variety of bizarre, petty, and semi-psychotic reasons. enough, apparently, to make them romanticize Muslims. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew.
"If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig." --Woodrow Wilson
"No man or woman of any faith or of no faith can truly love, truly serve, truly persevere, truly dare mighty deeds, truly hope for the future or truly honor the past, without a humble heart. So it is for humility, then, that, on behalf of the legislative branch -- both houses, both parties -- I ask for your prayers today. Because the only way we can serve well is to serve humbly, as servants both to God and our nation." --House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
I don't remember learning that in gov't school. I remember learning that the Christians were bad though.