August 31, 2015

burning the past

Set in France, 1184, Kingdom of Heaven tells the story, at the time of the crusades, of a blacksmith Balian, played by Orlando Bloom, in mourning of his wife's suicide and unborn child. He seizes the opportunity to travel with his long lost father, Baron Godfrey of Ibelin, played by Liam Neeson, to Jerusalem in search of peace and redemption for killing his corrupt brother. After his fathers death he gets handed down the obligation as the protector of Jerusalem and its people. A task accompanied by greedy rivals and a bitter sultan with a large army. Will the poor blacksmith, Balian, rise to the occasion ..and regain his fatih?

Directed by Ridley Scott, 2005. If you're planning to watch Kingdom of Heaven, don't even bother watching the theatrical version, it's not worth your time. It's basically the same movie, obviously-- but the director's cut is more of, everything. The density of the storyline and character development-- in which the justification of their actions makes more sense. Parts of or complete plot-lines were cut from the original version (a decision made by the studio)-- to the extent where the movie feel quite scattered. People who have seen both versions talks about an entirely different movie experience, so, as before mentioned, if you're planning to watch Kingdom of Heaven, put in the time (three+ hours), trust me, you won't regret it.

The casting is quite impressive, with excellent acting performances. They all fit their fit their roles well, all but one, the lead role and the center of the storyline, Balian, played by Orlando Bloom. I don't have a problem with him in other productions, such as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but as a lead role? Eh no, I'm not convinced. The role seems a bit too much for him, he doesn't bring much dept and density to the character. To me, the other actors and actresses carries the storyline and the movie-- they just convey a greater impact on the viewer. Notable actors and actresses in this movie are Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Jeremy Irons, Marton Csokas, Eva Green, Brendan Gleeson and Ghassan Massoud.

Eva Green as Sibylla (photo/ google)

The production is epic, in every sense of the word. Kingdom of Heaven consists of three distinctive acts, and they all have a somewhat different look and feel to them. The most distinctive is the difference between the cold and gritty-- rural town in France, where we first meet Balian, and the hot and lavish city of Jerusalem. Scott uses colors in a quite subtle yet effective way-- France is covered in blue, green and gray, while Jerusalem bathes in yellow, brown and red. Attention to details is another strong feature in this film. Although the story is loosely based on actual events, the attention to details in buildings (both exterior and interior), clothing, symbols, siege weapons and such are quite impressive. Yes there are inaccuracies, but you won't care while you're watching the movie-- it's an all immersing experience.

As one of the many positive directorial decisions made by Ridley Scott, are the attention to dialog. Yes, there are battle scenes, lots, but the center of the story are the dialogs between characters. The ones with King Baldwin IV are especially good, in my opinion. Yes to battle scenes, but, with politics and intrigue makes this movie a lot more watchable, and re-watchable. Another thing that makes this movie great, is the film score-- composed by Harry Gregson-Williams. What makes it great is the choir bits, and the orchestra of course-- but the choir makes an excellent impact on the feel of the movie.

Recommendable? Yes. But please put in the time, three+ hours isn't all that long for an epic-historical-drama-movie. Again, trust me, you won't regret it.