Heaven’s Kingdom Extended

I’ve been trying to think of a movie to cover for this week and I think I have one. It’s one of my favorite films. Well it actually takes up two different places on my list of favorites. I’m talking about Kingdom of Heaven and the subsequent director’s cut. The one that’s higher up on my list is the director’s cut because of the fuller story. There were things explained better in the director’s cut than in the theatre released version.

Either version that you watch is set in the time around the Second Crusade. This is the story as told by IMDB.

It is the time of the Crusades during the Middle Ages – the world shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East. A blacksmith named Balian has lost his family and nearly his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama. Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend the city against staggering odds. Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin, a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as Balian’s father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. In Jerusalem at that moment–between the Second and Third Crusades–a fragile peace prevails, through the efforts of its enlightened Christian king, Baldwin IV, aided by his advisor Tiberias, and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin. But Baldwin’s days are numbered, and strains of fanaticism, greed, and jealousy among the Crusaders threaten to shatter the truce. King Baldwin’s vision of peace–a kingdom of heaven–is shared by a handful of knights, including Godfrey of Ibelin, who swear to uphold it with their lives and honor. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son, he also passes on that sacred oath: to protect the helpless, safeguard the peace, and work toward harmony between religions and cultures, so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. Balian takes the sword and steps into history.

Of course with a film that covers one of the Crusades, Religion does play a large part of the movie but I think that it’s done very well. It tries to cover aspects of religion from multiple sides and doesn’t try to show one above the other. Of course some of the actual discussions would probably not been done at that period of history but of course this is a modern film about a historical event. But any kind of discussion should be happening and I think that this film is a great start to it. Since we do not truly know any of the characters (yes even Saladin) we see them in a different light. And surprisingly many of them can be found in an actual historical picture. It is interesting when you find out who is real in this movie.

I don’t mean it was interesting to learn that Baldwin IV was a real person. I was surprised to find that Balian was an actual historical figure. He was also considered the saviour of the people of Jerusalem in much a similar way as the film. What was changed for this film was his history. There is too much to cover here so I will just say that after watching the film you can have so many different things to research, if that kind of thing fascinates you. History is much more interesting than fiction and it is up to those who want to know to find the differences in this movie.

So I guess what I am saying about this movie is that it is not just for watching it is also a stepping stone for more discussions than I think I remember a film having in a while. I thank you for reading this and I hope you enjoy the movie. Until Monday. Have a good weekend.

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