Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, 2005)

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THX1378
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#1 Post by THX1378 » Mon May 09, 2005 6:43 pm

Saw it Sunday night. I agree with what was said over at The Digital Bits about the fact that the film feels rushed. It feels like in no time flat he went from being a blacksmith to being the head knight to falling in love again when he was not even over the death of his wife. I've heard that Fox made Scott cut the film by almost 40 to 50 minutes. All in all this is a good film that is really worth seeing on a big screen. The Visuals are great as is with any of Scott's films. I felt it was odd that it only made $20 million over the weekend, but then again I think people are holding out for Star Wars.

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#2 Post by Jem » Mon May 09, 2005 11:22 pm

Yes agree, the story seemed too compressed, blacksmith to "Defender of Jerusalem" in the blink of an eye. Beautiful to look at though (in that blue filtered Ridely Scott way). I thought some of the characters were great too, particular the masked King, just would have liked to get to know them better. I guess we will have to wait for the Directors cut to see what might (should) have been.

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Andre Jurieu
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#3 Post by Andre Jurieu » Tue May 10, 2005 1:02 am

I haven't seen the film yet, but as far as pacing and exposition problems due to Fox requesting that Scott trim down his story, it appears that a 220 minute version of the film is in the works for a 4 disc (?) special edition DVD.

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#4 Post by rossbrew » Tue May 10, 2005 2:55 pm

Saw it on the weekend- pure crap.

Anonymous

#5 Post by Anonymous » Thu May 12, 2005 10:00 am

I saw it on the weekend, and I have got to say I enjoyed it very much. I did feel like it was rushed, but I know the DVD will be uncut (I hope). I have much faith in Sir Ridley Scott, and I would say that KOH is one of his most visually beautiful films. One of the few great directors around.

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#6 Post by rossbrew » Thu May 12, 2005 10:58 am

Oh, god...don't tell me I have to refer to this guy as "Sir" Ridley...the horror...the horror....

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#7 Post by dvdane » Thu May 12, 2005 11:59 am

One of the few great directors around.
Ridley Scott is not a great director, but a great 2nd unit director, and "Kingdom of Heaven" is his worst film since "Legend".

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#8 Post by Jem » Thu May 12, 2005 10:49 pm

Ridley Scott is not a great director, but a great 2nd unit director, and "Kingdom of Heaven" is his worst film since "Legend".
Says you.

Sure KOH is no masterpiece and Sir Scott is no Tarkovsky, but to write him off like that seems a little extreme to me. He definitely has his place, I wouldn't take KOH too seriously, to me it was just a fun matinee film, with some beautiful visuals.

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#9 Post by rossbrew » Fri May 13, 2005 1:05 am

Here's the latest review of KOH from Village Voice:
http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0518,a ... 35,20.html
This pretty well sums it up for me....I apologize if my criticism of the film above is not very analytical - I really don't think this film is intended for critical mass...and I'm still not gonna call this wanker "Sir"....

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#10 Post by dvdane » Fri May 13, 2005 7:10 am

To critic "Kingdom of Heaven" as a piece of crap and Scott as nothing more than a 2nd unit director, is not being elitist at all.

Balian
The first problem with Kingdom of Heaven is the character of Balian, who is completely unrealistic and unconvincing.

In reality, Balian was part of the nobles around Baldwin IV, was married and even as he opposed Guy de Lusignan, supported him during his failed campaign against Saladin, and only stayed to defend Jerusalem, because the citizens persuaded him to do so. He defended Jerusalem for four days, finally negotiating the free passage of all Christians and eventually returned with Richard Lionheart as a diplomat during the 3rd Crusade.

He had no relations with Sibylla, who was a scheming bitch, completely loyal to her husbond, giving up her own throne to him and even after Saladin imprissoned him, stayed by his side, finally talked Saladin into setting him free and then together with Richard Lionheart joined the 3rd Crusade.

Not only was Balian in reality a trained knight, he was a scholar. In Kingdom of Heaven he is a adolescent peasant blacksmith in 1184, and as such, only had the education of such a person, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of someone in kindergarden of todays standards.

Testing our willingness to accept his knowledge, he is to begin with a natural at swordsmanship, who while below the skills of trained crusaders, still is able to show his sword. However, this being an actionfilm, lets accept this.

But within a few months, he suddenly knows about irrigation and helps device the irrigation system at Ibelin. That is not really realistic. Then we see him doing budgets (although with some headache), even more unrealistic. Then a few weeks later he suddenly displays better tactical judgements than knights, and during the seige of Jerusalem, he displays advanced understandment of siege strategy and geometrics.

Who taught him? One thing is for a blacksmith to be good with a sword and have a natural instinct for swordsmanship, but knights, who did study it, actually spend a year or more with the study of siege mechanics and geometrics, not to say learning the advanced sciences of simple calculus.

The transition of a simple peasant to a very skilled knight within a few weeks is simply not realistic, nor believable. In terms of character writing, this is exceptionally poor work.

Additionally, Balian, since he is the hero, is a person of nothing but goodness. Hell, he can even make a boyscout look good. What does he do, after Guy tries to kill him? He goes on and actually tries to give Guy good advices for the upcoming campaign. Where in reality, Balian stood side by side with Guy, because he was loyal to the king, this loyalty is not part of this story, and as such his actions are guided by the writers intentions of making a good guy hero.

And it doesn't become any better to have the biggest hamb in recent history to play the lead, even though Bloom has matured as an actor and does his best. But even if this is the best he has done as an actor so far, he still comes off as some male model wearing the wrong clothes.

The "ups" eventualities
Also exceptionally poor writing is the description of Balians journey to Jerusalem.

Again we begin with the within limits acceptable, as he leaves the village after killing the priest. But the killing of the priest is whats called the pay off of the set-up showed in the beginning of the film, where the priest beheads Balians dead wife and steals her crucifix. That it is of gold, and probably would be iron, is negletable.

Now he joins his father and his band of crusaders, and is surprised by the Marshall, who wants Balian. And here all die, except those of importance to the next scene. And that becomes the pattern of the many following scenes.

Coming to Mesina, his father dies. Going on a ship to Palestine, the ship wrecks and only Balian dies. Going thru the desert, only Balian and Saladin (in disguise) survives. Its like ups's, where everyone who don't have any importance for the next scene in terms of advancing Balian, just dies, even if they are played by prominent actors.

A PC political film
Touching upon the conflicts between christians and muslims, this becomes a political film. And Scott does his best to make it politically correct. The enemy is christian fundamentalists (Guy), who argue any cause by "Its Gods Will" and oppose any arguement with "Blasphemy".

But he never really depicts other than the muslims as believers. In three scenes we see Muslims pray, in no scenes do we see the non-muslims pray, not even during the siege of Jerusalem. Instead, the depictions of the christians are that of rationalists. Baldwin IV opposes the decree from the Pope to destroy non believers, Balian, as his father, constantly talk about God isn't with them (as they are sinners). There is absolutely no depictions of christian faith in this film, which I read as a very PC statement in light of the strongly political context of the film, as the very actions of Guy can be read as siding with Bush.

And for Scott this is a political film. In the press material, he states, as he does at the end of the film, that the conflicts of the crusades are the cause for the problems in the middle east today, and continues, that its madness for power that is the cause, not religion.

But this means the films has two stories, two seperate agendas. One is to show the becoming of man of Balian, his rise from peasants to knight to defender of the people. The other is to make a PC political allegory upon the situation in the middle east, upon the war between US and Iraq and to make another warfilm.

A Gladiator Clone
Finally, Kingdom of Heaven is a clone of Gladiator. It is more or less the same story.

As Maximus thru armed conflict became a defender of the people, so does Balian. As Marcus Aurelius was a leader of the people, so is Baldwin IV. As Commodus was a tyran, so is Guy. As Lucilla loved Maximus, but was bound by Commodus, so does Sibylla love Balian, but is bound by Guy.

The internal character narrative is simply a copy of the one in Gladiator, which again points towards poor and lazy scriptwriting.

As a film, Kingdom of Heaven, however doesn't even come close to Gladiator (and I don't even like Gladiator, I even think its also crap, and before someone says Oscar, I say split vote between Traffic and Erin Brockoich). It is a lackluster before its a blockbuster and it tries to cash in on the fame of Gladiator (all promotional work made sure to note that this film was by the director of Gladiator), and the recent "epics" Troy and Alexander.

And even though its currently #1 at the US Box Office, it only played in $19,6 millions during its opening weekend at 3216 screens ($6000 per screen), and is as such a flop, barely beating the two major flops of this spring Elektra ($4620 per screen) and XXX2 ($3650 per screen), and joining Alexander ($5603 per screen). Rule of thumb here being, that a blockbuster must have above $10,000 per screen during its opening weekend to be considered a succes. Gladiator having $11851.

So its not only a bad film, badly written with an extremely unconvincing protagonist, its also a flop.

I do hope that this wasn't too elitist.

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#11 Post by King of Kong » Fri May 13, 2005 7:40 am

Quite a good run-down there, dane. I might go see the film out of interest this weekend, but I won't let my guard down (pun intended).

As for Scott, well, I'm not a big fan - he is a Hollywood director, after all, and not up to the standard of the European/Asian "auteurs", but then again, Blade Runner is one of my 10 favourite films.

I guess it depends which people and what materials (not being a scriptwriter) he works with.

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#12 Post by rossbrew » Fri May 13, 2005 11:07 am

Come on, Kongy- I thought my posts were "lightened up". It's kind of fun to call down shoddy, cynical Hollywood whitewashing "epics" replete with boring boilerplate CGI effects and bloated $150 million budgets...just imagining what vital, energetic (ie- non lazy, fat, rich, etc.) filmmakers could do with that $$$ really bums me out.....at least my wife enjoyed the "Bloom"ing eye candy...

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#13 Post by Andre Jurieu » Fri May 13, 2005 11:20 am

I still haven't seen the film, and I don't really know when I'll get the chance to catch it, but...
dvdane wrote:To critic "Kingdom of Heaven" as a piece of crap and Scott as nothing more than a 2nd unit director, is not being elitist at all....

I do hope that this wasn't too elitist.
Henrik, while I respect your opinion that Kingdom of Heaven is a "piece of crap", from the post above it doesn't appear that your reasons for not enjoying the film directly relate to Ridley Scott's direction, but mostly to do with casting, acting, and script structure. Now I know, as director, Scott is responsible for the ultimate product and the creative choices made, but like many studio directors, he is still bound by scripts, agents, and length requirements. The aspects you choose to critique don't really seem directly related to Scott's skills as a director.

Also, while I haven't seen the film, by the description you've given about the depiction of the Christian and Muslim religions that drive the main conflict, I'm not really sure why Scott's creative decisions cannot be considered as somewhat meaningful.

Your main point of concern seems to be that Scott has respectfully displayed the Muslims as completely devoted to their religion, but that Scott does not allow their Christian counterparts the same respect, as no Christians, or non-Muslims, are shown to pray. In my mind that seems like an important and meaningful creative decision. It seems to run completely contrary to what general movie-going audiences have seen in depictions of the Muslim faith. The regular action-movie/war epic would probably ignore the fact that the Muslim side is devout to their spirituality or that their actions are governed by a higher calling from a God. There is a respect granted here, because the Muslim side genuinely believes they are conducting the actions in relation to a higher duty (though that might be completely misguided). The regular epic film would probably show the Christian side as servants of God's will, but that their counterparts are evil heathen demons, or at the very least completely ignore their opponents’ religious beliefs. It seems always assumed in a predominantly North-American audience that Christianity = Good Guys, while their opponents dress in black, look creepy, and are obviously not hanging with Jesus in the afterlife. As well, the politics of Christian religions are often ignored. From what you've written about Kingdom of Heaven (and again< ia apologize for not having watched the film before engaging in this thread), it appears Scott chooses to address the politics of the Christian faith (since you mention various things, such as Christian Fundamentalists, the Pope's decree, and the actions of royalty), and instead display the Muslims as genuinely spiritual. While definitely not evenhanded or balanced, these depictions seem to run counter to the regular Hollywood film, and in effect, become some sort of political statement that changes the regularly accepted perception of who "has God on their side". Usually, it's the heathen opponents that are shown as extremists, bent on the accumulation of power, but, based on what you've written, that doesn't sound like that is the case in Kingdom of Heaven. While it might not be the most convincing argument, or the most radical revision, it's still a change from the common Hollywood depiction of "us=good=God's will" vs "them=bad=eternal damnation".

Or perhaps, you believe that not showing Christians praying, while showing Muslims, is somehow attempting to neutralize any supposed Christian influence upon the actions of war, while directly tying the Muslim faith to actions of war, thus cleansing the hands of the Christian faith while further soiling the hands of the Muslims? If that's the idea, while I'm not really sure what was intended in the film (again, since I haven't seen it), I'm fairly sure whichever side is allowed the ability to have their actions tied to their God's will is actually allowed more respect than the side that doesn't even seek some form of approval from God for their actions. Also, using Christian Fundamentalists and the Pope's decree to destroy non-believers, are two pretty strong - albeit negative - depictions of the Christian faith.

Of course, a more balanced view of these religions would be favored, but sometimes simply reversing the "normal" depiction is somewhat meaningful.

I should really watch the film though.
dvdane wrote:Additionally, Balian, since he is the hero, is a person of nothing but goodness. Hell, he can even make a boyscout look good.
OK, am I the only one that didn't understand that line? Aren’t boyscouts supposed to be good?

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#14 Post by dvdane » Fri May 13, 2005 4:23 pm

Or perhaps, you believe that not showing Christians praying, while showing Muslims, is somehow attempting to neutralize any supposed Christian influence upon the actions of war, while directly tying the Muslim faith to actions of war, thus cleansing the hands of the Christian faith while further soiling the hands of the Muslims?
Not directly.

Jerusalem was the heart of Christanity during the Crusades, as it was the deathplace of Jesus. According to the Church, anyone participating in the crusade, would recieve complete absolution from God. Thus "all" crusaders went to Jerusalem, mainly to protect the most holy place on earth from the muslims, then to get absolution from all their sins.

At the same time, Jerusalem was also the heart for Islam, as it was there Muhammed rose to heaven, it was there the Koran was written and from there Islam spread.

So the city was of vast importance to both religions.

During Baldwin IV, the king governing at the beginning of Kingdom of Heaven, peace exists between muslims, jews and christians, as Jerusalem is an open city. Baldwin opposed to the degree of the Pope to slaughter all muslims, and instead created a temporary peace between them.

This peace was disturbed by Guy de Lusignan, who after the death of Baldwin IV (and Baldwin V), became King of Jerusalem, thanks to his wife Sibylla, and then began open war on Saladin. He was defeated, send to prison and subsequently Jerusalem fell after a four day siege.

The war and the fall of Jerusalem was an act of fundamentalism (Christianity). I believe Scott doesn't show ordinary daily christianity, because he wants to show the Christians as bad guys. On the other side, he portraits the muslims as diplomatic as Balian and Baldwin.

Another interesting aspect is, that Scott dismisses the value of Jerusalem. Balian has no interest in Jerusalem at all, except in the safety of its people. And after the battle he asks Saladin, "What is Jerusalem worth?", to which he answers, "Nothing and Everything."
It (Islam) seems to run completely contrary to what general movie-going audiences have seen in depictions of the Muslim faith.
Yes it does, and that is what I mean, when I say its very PC and very political at the same time. Islam is a very peaceful religion, and there are no fundamentalist muslims in the picture at all. Opposite to that we see a Bush like figure, in Guy, as the Christian fundamentalist, where as the peaceloving Christians are basically non believers, as they constantly say, that God isn't with them, because they are portraited as sinners, and so forth.

Furthermore, Scott suggests that the conflicts between Christianity and Islam during the crusades, is the same conflict in the middle east today, which is utter bullshit. Its geopolitics and oil, based on the powerstruggle between the US and the former USSR, to simplify it. And by saying so directly in the films credits, Scott suggests, that the war between Bush and Saddam, or for that matter by extension Al-Quida vs. the US, is a matter of religion. Thus he has created a revision of history to fit his own political agenda. Imagine someone creating a revision of WW2, suggesting, that the conflicts between US and the European Commom Marked was a continuum of the stuggles between the Allies and the Third Reich.
The aspects you choose to critique don't really seem directly related to Scott's skills as a director.
Well, Scott doesn't bother with character director, nor with providing a clear narrative. He is more concerned about staging the battles, and that is why I say he is a 2nd unit director.

He had control over the script. He participated in its construction, it came out of a conversation between the writer and Scott. For a director as Scott, the script simply is too bad and any intelligent person would instantly read the lapses of logic and leaps of "faith" (sorry for the pun). This is a very badly written script, and I strongly doubt, that additional 20 minutes will explain several of the problems within the script. But obviously, Scott wasn't interested in a good script.
Aren’t boyscouts supposed to be good?
It was a hyperbole. But yes, boyscouts are supposed to be good, but not saintly naively good, without any bad thought, who resist any temptation and who never holds a grudge, not even after someone has tried to kill you.

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#15 Post by Andre Jurieu » Fri May 13, 2005 5:25 pm

dvdane wrote: The war and the fall of Jerusalem was an act of fundamentalism (Christianity). I believe Scott doesn't show ordinary daily christianity, because he wants to show the Christians as bad guys. On the other side, he portraits the muslims as diplomatic as Balian and Baldwin.
I haven't seen the film, so I must ask then, are Balian and Baldwin not tied to Christianity at all within the film?
dvdane wrote:Another interesting aspect is, that Scott dismisses the value of Jerusalem. Balian has no interest in Jerusalem at all, except in the safety of its people. And after the battle he asks Saladin, "What is Jerusalem worth?", to which he answers, "Nothing and Everything."
I don't know how it's delivered in the film itself, but that doesn't sound like a bad line on paper. Not knowing the context of the scene, the line itself might diminish the importance of Jerusalem, but it doesn't dismiss its value. I think the use of the word "Everything" is pretty important. Again not having seen the film but the line seems to want to convey that in reality the city means little more than any other city, but as a symbol it has an importance greater than any other due to its spiritual significance. I'm not really seeing how the city is dismissed.
dvdane wrote:
It (Islam) seems to run completely contrary to what general movie-going audiences have seen in depictions of the Muslim faith.
Just wanted to point out that the "It" that I used was meant to replace "Kingdom of Heaven" not "Islam", though I would also agree that Islam runs completely contrary to the usual Hollywood depictions of the Muslim faith.
dvdane wrote:Furthermore, Scott suggests that the conflicts between Christianity and Islam during the crusades, is the same conflict in the middle east today, which is utter bullshit. Its geopolitics and oil, based on the power struggle between the US and the former USSR, to simplify it. And by saying so directly in the films credits, Scott suggests, that the war between Bush and Saddam, or for that matter by extension Al-Quida vs. the US, is a matter of religion. Thus he has created a revision of history to fit his own political agenda.
I agree that the conflicts mentioned above are directly related to geopolitics and the need to obtain greater oil supplies, and that they are not directly tied to religion. However, religion is playing a significant indirect deal in this conflict, and political factions on both sides are cunningly and subtly exploiting religion and faith in order to achieve their ends. Religion is not the underlying motivating factor, but it is serving as indirect justification and indirect motivation for the actions taken. If religion isn't somewhat of a factor in the new Middle East conflict, then why is Rev Jerry Falwell on TV exclaiming to Rev Jesse Jackson that he (Falwell) is "for the President to chase [the terrorists] all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord." Could you honestly tell me that a large number of Falwell's followers don't imagine the bad guys from True Lies when they hear the word "terrorists"? There is a significant underlying xenophobia and fear of the "other" within this new Middle-East conflict that is being easily exploited through religious rhetoric. It's even becoming very hard to distinguish where the Bush administration separates their faith from their decision making in term of global/political policy. Some part of me fears that people such as Falwell (who holds a substantial amount of political clout) may even believe this new War on Terror is this generation's crusade. Scott might be a bit misguided if he believes this new conflict is the exact same as before and is completely driven by religious tensions, but he's not entirely wrong either, since it is among the many aspects that have influenced this war.

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#16 Post by Zumpano » Fri Dec 30, 2005 2:23 pm

It seems that the extended cut of "Kingdom of Heaven" has been playing in LA. Dave Poland is one of the first reactions I've read, and he has placed it in his Top Ten of the year.
http://www.thehotbutton.com/today/hot.b ... a_fri.html

Has anyone else seen this cut? Of course it will be released on DVD in the new year...

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#17 Post by Len » Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:16 pm

A pretty horrible film. I hope that either Ridley Scott stops making films altogether or that he makes one film that has nothing but colour-filtered helicopter shots of trees and shit in the middle of the desert so that he gets that out of his system. I would really like to see a good Ridley Scott film that doesn't rely on neat visual effects and cool cinematography.

Although dvdane already covered this, one of the worst things about Kingdom Of Heaven was the character of Balian who made no sense whatsover. My favorite scene in the film was the whole "well montage". Ok, there are these people who have lived their entire lives in that desert, struggling for a living in a really harsh enviroment. In comes an european whitey, who immediately gets the clever idea of digging a well, which seems to be a totally foreign idea to the simple natives. And so there's this ridiculously cheesy montage, completed by shots of running water and cheering kids. Please. Worst scene of 2005.

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#18 Post by che-etienne » Fri Jan 13, 2006 9:27 pm

Andre Jurieu wrote: I agree that the conflicts mentioned above are directly related to geopolitics and the need to obtain greater oil supplies, and that they are not directly tied to religion. However, religion is playing a significant indirect deal in this conflict, and political factions on both sides are cunningly and subtly exploiting religion and faith in order to achieve their ends. Religion is not the underlying motivating factor, but it is serving as indirect justification and indirect motivation for the actions taken. If religion isn't somewhat of a factor in the new Middle East conflict, then why is Rev Jerry Falwell on TV exclaiming to Rev Jesse Jackson that he (Falwell) is "for the President to chase [the terrorists] all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord." Could you honestly tell me that a large number of Falwell's followers don't imagine the bad guys from True Lies when they hear the word "terrorists"? There is a significant underlying xenophobia and fear of the "other" within this new Middle-East conflict that is being easily exploited through religious rhetoric. It's even becoming very hard to distinguish where the Bush administration separates their faith from their decision making in term of global/political policy. Some part of me fears that people such as Falwell (who holds a substantial amount of political clout) may even believe this new War on Terror is this generation's crusade. Scott might be a bit misguided if he believes this new conflict is the exact same as before and is completely driven by religious tensions, but he's not entirely wrong either, since it is among the many aspects that have influenced this war.
Agreed. We also shouldn't really forget that the conflicts of that time were also quite politically based... the crusades were largely a result of rulers needing to prove themselves to their people and strengthen their regimes back home, as well as to compete with their own European rivals. Also, if I remember correctly, the pope ordered the first crusade in hopes that it would help reunite the catholic church with its wayward eastern brother the orthodox church. Of course, the pope was himself hoping to be the head of this newly unified denomination. Frankly, all this political intrique seems to be quite well-reflected in the plot of "Kingdom of Heaven", which admittedly I have not yet seen (I'm waiting for the director's cut). Though it doesn't seem that history here is directly addressed, rather that this context is perfect for such a story about individuals who are inherently good but need to push back all the bureaucracy, red-tape, and competing interests to conserve what really matters. In this case, perhaps it's the people of Jerusalem who matter perhaps much more than all the ideologies flying around, but who are engulfed in them... I don't know that was kind of rambling, but maybe the director's cut will prove to silence some naysayers. I've got some faith in Scott... but... well, we'll see.

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#19 Post by che-etienne » Mon May 08, 2006 1:22 pm

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/mytwocentsa118.html

http://dvd.ign.com/articles/700/700521p1.html

Two reviews of the director's cut which is coming to DVD in a couple weeks.

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#20 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon May 08, 2006 1:27 pm

It seems the director's cut addresses many of the problems critic had with the theatrical cut. I was intrigued by the premise of the movie but dismayed by the reviews so I avoided it the first time around, but I will definitely be checking this out (even though there is nothing to convince me that Orlando Bloom is leading man material). I hope they do a limited theatrical run of the director's cut. I would love to see it on the big screen.

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#21 Post by che-etienne » Mon May 08, 2006 1:31 pm

They apparently already did a limited run in December... it must've been pretty damned limited, because I don't even think it reached NYC.

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#22 Post by Gregory » Mon May 15, 2006 3:12 pm

I never got around to seeing this but I recently decided to give the 4-disc director's cut a chance. Normally I'm wary of this kind of recent Hollywood epic, especially the kind that features a long-haired, bearded, muscular-chested hunk. Part of what got my attention about this one was that it was received so well in the Middle East itself.
It also didn't hurt that I was able to pick it up for $15.65 at Overstock.com. It's already 50% off there and I used a 10% off coupon (78674), then went into the checkout process and then went back and added another coupon for free shipping (85704). A good blind buy for that price, I think.

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#23 Post by John Cope » Mon May 15, 2006 3:52 pm

Thanks very much for the tip, Gregory. This is one I was going back and forth on picking up as I disliked the original version but your info and the promise that this cut improves the film tremendously are too much to deny. Thanks again!

As to the picture having been received well in the Middle East, I can see that but the report is also a little eye roll inducing. The qualities that article speaks about are pretty tangential in the overall scheme of things. What emerges much louder in the original version, and in such numbingly naive tones that it's hard to imagine it can be rectified, is Scott's ad hoc grafting on of modernist utopian sentiment. Regardless of his adherence to specific details his position toward the material is one of assurance in faux objective 20/20 hindsight.

As much as I like Scott's films he has always come across as someone who is all too easily shaken from his convictions (compare the truncating of Legend for example with Terry Gilliam's furious defense of Brazil that same year). His strongest feature as a director is his understanding of the subtle shifts within gender dynamics (and in that respect Someone to Watch Over Me is his buried masterpiece--far more intriguing to return to than the overly didactic Thelma & Louise); having said that, however, that same sensitivity to hidden reserves of strength and masculine vulnerability might have contributed to cloud his judgment as to what approach to take with this material. At best he respects the religious issues at the heart of the piece as contributing factors to a sociology--the sympathetically rendered comments about land and property pretty thoroughly indicate Scott's primary perception here. I don't expect something with the remarkably out of fashion convictions and sensibility of Oliveira's Satin Slipper but I do expect a less lazy and obvious modernist take on deeply complex ideological material that deserves forceful and disturbing handling. Michael Mann, with his heightened realism aesthetic of self constructed myths, would have been a firmer hand at the wheel. Hopefully, he will eventually be able to make Gates of Fire and prove me correct.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#24 Post by Gregory » Tue May 16, 2006 2:46 am

You're certainly welcome.
All I can say about Fisk's article is that sometimes, in some circumstances, little things take on much greater meaning. And of course I don't think he was attempting to review the film so much as write about the experience of seeing the film where and when he did as a cultural event. Reading Fisk over the years I've developed the utmost respect for the great experience, knowledge, and integrity he brings to his reporting on the Middle East.
Back to Scott, I consider the "grafting" to which you refer to be unavoidable to a great extent. How gracefully and intelligently he does it in this film or in his other historical films, though, I'm not qualified to say.

King Crimson
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 1:18 pm
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#25 Post by King Crimson » Mon May 22, 2006 1:25 pm

I can't wait to get the 4-disc directors cut! I've got it on pre-order from Overstock for about $15.56!

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