Rating: 4.5 of 5
The only review I really have of the theatrical cut is a quote from Entertainment Weekly’s review of Kingdom of Heaven – May 13, 2005. There were a lot of things I liked about it and a lot of things I was disappointed in. I wanted it to be brilliant and breathtaking. I wanted it to resonate with power and significance. I wanted Sibylla to be a woman who was ruthless and beautiful, having learned to be fiercely practical from her mother, cunning from being around politics for so long and powerful because she used everything she had and everything she knew so well – an incredible counterpoint to her brother.
“…what should have been a tasty soap opera of power never quite comes to life. [King Baldwin IV] is the soul of the movie, all right: a gentleman trying to halt a turf war. What’s missing from Kingdom of Heaven is the unholy madness of the Crusades – the violence of men who, in their zealous desire to smite sin, were only too willing to turn themselves into apostles of blood.”
I agree with that in my own way. The movie lacked the reverberation of power. Sibylla was just a shadow of the interesting and complex character she could have been. They completely ignored the opportunity they had to explore true faith and the barren face of hollow religion.
But the action was good and the character’s strong enough and there was enough I kind of loved to give me hope that the director’s cut would be better.
ETA: Review of the Director’s Cut I love Kingdom of Heaven. In case you’re curious, the Director’s Cut is so much better than the theatrical version.
There’s something about this movie and what it calls me too. I like Liam Neeson’s speech about serving the king of Jerusalem. Because when I hear that, I think not of a mortal king, but of the true king behind the mortal on a throne; Jesus, not as the iconic image we have, of the shepherd or carpenter or any of the other things that were true about him. I think of him as the Most High God in flesh. Of true nobility, strength, grace and light. Of a king worth serving, worth honoring.
If God has purpose for you there he will keep you safe in the palm of his hand. And if not, then God bless you.
It seems to be challenging us that who we are matters. What we do, the choices that we make, are significant. And that, if we choose, they can have real power not only to change our lives but to change the world. That the world we live in is a reflection of who we choose to be.
What man is a man who does not make the world a better place?
One of the things I was disappointed with in the theatrical cut was the picture it drew of faith. Some of the things it said were really good, but I always got the sense that it could be so much more. That it was people without faith talking about it, saying good words. But how much more amazing would it be if it had the depth of a story told from the point of view of people who actually had faith, who lived the words that were being said. How amazing would our world be if more people understood and lived the words being said? Still, there were some good things said.
About people doing things in the name of Christ that are not reflections of Him or what He would ask of his people.
About the difference between faith and religion. I do like the warrior/monk’s speech to Balian about religion and faith.
And the picture drawn by the priest who is a polar opposite from that.
One thing I did like was how often all the characters, on both sides, speak of the sovereignty of God. I think that’s something that I don’t remember enough in my life, and maybe most of us don’t. There’s a lot of, “if God wills it” and acceptance of events as falling under “the will of God”. Sometimes those words are used to foster complacency or apathy. But I think, and this is just what I think, that if you are truly submitting yourself to the will of God, then you are submitting yourself to Him and your actions begin to be a reflection of Him. This is where the character of God comes in, where understanding who He is matters. It’s how one discerns people who say they act in His name from those who actually do.
I do not believe that He is a God of complacency or apathy. I think there is a difference between accepting the world around you and doing nothing and accepting God’s sovereignty of the world around us and doing what you can in the midst of that. The characters in this film weren’t complacent.
… and if God does not love you, how could you have done the things you have done?
I desperately like the picture of nobility it draws, of how you see Balian grow into his knighthood. There’s this great scene toward the end of the director’s cut where Guy confronts Balian and instead of killing him Balian says, When you rise again, if you rise, rise a knight. and it echoed his speech earlier to the men of Jerusalem where he knighted them all. Even his enemy he’s calling to be a better man, and offering the mercy to give him the chance to try. I loved it.
Although, I do have a fondness for nobility in general so when I see it, I generally like it a lot.
You are not what you were born, but what you have it in yourself to be.
The dimension that was added to Sibylla in the director’s cut was really good. She still wasn’t exactly who I wanted her to be, or who I imagined she could be. But she made sense and was more fully developed so it worked for me.
I don’t know if any of all of that makes sense. Or if it accurately really captures what I respond to in this film. But I really do love it.