Lack of the Clash of Faiths in The Kingdom of Heaven

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In Ridley Scott’s directors cut of The Kingdom of Heaven, he brought the 21st century worldview to this story of a heroic knights and chivalry. However, for a movie that is supposed to be about a religious war, I did not see or sense much faith during the film. I thought that the Crusades were seen by Christians as a Holy War to gain control of Jerusalem from the Muslims.

I thought maybe that Scotts goal was trying to avoid the issue, but I do not think this was the issue. He showed that the characters in the film were more concerned with advancement and personal power rather than theological issues. I also felt as if that part of the story was almost ignored, and the gruesome and violence was glorified.

There are many battle scenes in the film that involves the attack of Saladin’s forces on Christian-controlled Jerusalem. However, one that stuck out to me was one of those in which had giant balls of fire and flames that hurtle and flow through the air, landing close, but not directly near the main characters. Scenes like this sort of made me sit back and laugh because although the war scenes seemed realistic, at the same time they weren’t. I felt like it was just another Hollywood film that was predictable in what was going to happen and the main characters can never be hurt or killed. At the same time though I get that it was following a story line of the history and the director was trying to keep it as real as he could without getting too crazy.

From what I took away from the film although I got a little bit lost and confused was that Balian, a village blacksmith in France, discovers that he is the illegitimate son of Sir Godfrey. Godfrey is a knight who is returning from the Middle East. In my opinion, he didn’t paint Jerusalem in terms of a holy war but in relation to its opportunities for an ambitious man. When he says, “there are the end of the world you are not what you were born but what you have it in yourself to be,” he sort of makes Jerusalem sound like a medieval Atlanta. It as almost if it is a city too busy to hate.

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After doing some more research on the film and looking back at parts, I realized the film was released in 2005, which was a brave time to release it on the director’s part. With the film being about the wars between Christians and Muslims for control of Jerusalem, I am sure it did not make too may people happy, especially since he managed to make both sides angry.

Leading up to the action in the film, Christians and Muslims were both content to see one another worship in the Holy City. Things started to go wrong when Christian Zealots determined to control the Holy Land more rigidly. As the city is being ruled by a young King Baldwin, who has leprosy and hides his blight face with a silver mask. Taking place in circa 1184, he takes control after the death of the cities’ young king. To conclude this part of the film, the Knights Templar conducts war on the Muslims. There is a lot of avoided battle and blood shed when Saladin leads the Muslim army against them, but Balian surrenders the city to him instead of fighting. I was sort of surprised by this because throughout the whole film, it was very gory and violent, but this was one part that was sort of made with peace and nonviolence.

After taking a step back and thinking about it all, I think the directors purpose was for us to think that most Christians and Muslims might be able to coexist peacefully if it were not for the extremists on both sides of the spectrum. I think that most people watching the film do not care about the reasonable politics, and will be interested by the principal of all the battles, violence, epics, history, and romance. However, there are some people that I think could take a different look on the film and be displeased with kind of Christians and Muslims who take moderation as an insult.

As for the romance side of the film, the thing gong on between Balian and Sibylla, the sister of King Baldwin was interesting and sort of surprised me. How did a blacksmith impress a princess? I soon discovered that Sir Godfrey was correct and that there are many opportunities for young men in Jerusalem if they first of all have enough ambition, and second of all if their newly discovered father makes them a knight. This made him look good along with Tiberius enlisting him as an aide to Baldwin. It kind of reminded me of some of the rules we read and showed me that even in movies men manage to make their other men look good.

Although I have not seen many other movies like this, comparing The Kingdom of Heaven to films I have seen, it is definitely unique. Ridley Scott did a great job producing the film. Because I do not know history that well nor am I completely interested in it, the dialogue and plot had me lost at times, but there was a lot of action put into it that I felt as if got the viewers attention. I feel like it is very common for films to have vast desert cities, thousands of charging horses, men fighting hand and hand in combat, being violent, brutal, gruesome.

With that being said, even though the film was set in circa 1184, there is still use of the 12th-century tools that are equivalent to that of a GPS. For example, when Balian is making his way to Jerusalem and says, “go to where they speak Italian, and then keep going.” It proved to me that even though the movie was set so far back in history, that there wills till always be bits and pieces of the present in films and movies, which made it a bit less realistic and understandable of how times really were to me.

The Kingdom of Heaven is all about both Christian and Muslim personal codes of heroes. The men in the film were honorable, I feel sort of like real life. They experience bloodshed, pain, and loss all battling for what? It showed me sort of how real war would be like, fighting for land, religion, money, or just straight up power and losing so many men in the process. It was an interesting film, and something unique compared to others I have watched before.

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