Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d like this movie. I thought I was going to be ticked off because it was a romance. I was surprised and pleased to find out that the advertising for the movie was just plain wrong.

Kingdom of Heaven, starring Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neesson, and a host of character actors along the lines of “I know him,” is the story of Balian, who turns out to be the son of a knight crusading in Jerusalem. This knight (Liam N.) comes to claim him and basically make restitution by offering him a place in Jerusalem, should he want it. Balian initially refuses, but then follows him. He goes to Jeruselem to save his soul, becoming part of the second crusade.

Now, things happen, crusades happen, knighthood happens, and there is a girl invovled, but the core of the story is internal. It embodies what the crusades were supposed to be about – returning peace to the area and seeking redemption in the holy land. The spirit of knighthood is embodied in Balian – protect the helpless, keep to right action, and act for justice.

Balian is a perfect knight, but he’s very human and you empathize with him greatly. Orlando Bloom owns this movie, no matter what critics might say. He is not too young. He is just the right age for you to believe that he could do the things and build the life he builds during his crusade. The story is based on actual event, but this is a movie and not an historical reenactment, so don’t be looking for perfect accuracy in events.

However, keeping that in mind, Kingdom in Heaven catches the spirit of the time. It handles the fact that much of fighting was for riches and power and land, not ideals. And that there still were good people there and innocents caught up in events that were beyond them. This is a moral story. I was also pleasantly suprised to find that the Muslims were not villianized in this movie. You root for Balian, that is clear, but there are just as many Christian bad guys and Muslim. The whole situation was deftly handled and despite initial worries I don’t think it will strain the relations between the religions any more than they’ve already been strained.

I think this will be a quiet film that does well over the long-term, not a weekend block-buster. Word of mouth will get this one running the way no ad campaign could. I’m buying the DVD when it comes out and I’ll watch it more than once happily. It’s well-worth the money, the time, and the effort to see it. I highly reccomend this one.

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