Monday, June 12, 2006

Movie: Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut

When I watched Kindgom of Heaven the first time, I thought the movie was a great concept but poorly edited and missing great chunks of the film. Apparently I was right, since Ridley Scott released a "Director's Cut" that's almost a full hour longer than the original. Most director's cuts add some violence in, or a deleted scene or two. This is a whole different movie, and dear God it is great. This is my favorite Ridley Scott movie, and this is probably one of the best films I've seen in the last two years.

The movie follows Balien, a blacksmith who journeys to Kingdom of Jerusalem between the first and second crusade. There he befriends the king and eventually is put in charge of defense of the city against Saladin's army.

The movie fills in the gaps from the previous version: Balien's skill at engineering and knowledge of warfare, the dispute between himself and the priest, his father's dispute with the local lord, the princess' relationships (she has a son, and goes from minor supporting character to one of the most important characters in the film), and more.

The movie is intended as a metaphor for current middle eastern conflicts, but manages to avoid the "well, these people have been fighting for forever, so fuck 'em" attitude you hear. It clearly highlights that religious fanaticism on all sides is in no small part responsible for conflict, and Balien's attitude - it is a kingdom of conscience, or nothing - echoes this, but in a "golden mean" sort of way.

Aside from the historical inaccuracies in character (and the fact that people wear chainmail all the time, even on boats!), the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven really is amazing. Much better than Gladiator in my opinion. Worth checking out.

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