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Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut
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Directed By Ridley Scott
Produced By Ridley Scott
Written By William Monohan
Starring
Music By
Distributed By 20th Century Fox
Release Date(s) May 23, 2006
Running Time(s) 194 Minutes (DVD Edition) / 189 Minutes (Blu Ray Edition)
Filming Location(s)
  • Atlas Corporation Studios, Ouarzazate, Morocco (studio)
  • Loarre, Huesca, Aragón, Spain
  • Ouarzazate, Morocco
  • Palma del Río, Córdoba, Andalucía, Spain
  • Segovia, Castilla y León, Spain
  • Sevilla, Andalucía, Spain
  • Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain
Language(s) English, Spanish & Arabic
Budget $147 Million
Gross Revenue $211,652,051 Million
Proceeding Film A Good Year
Preceeding Film Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut was released on December 23, 2005, at the Laemmle Fairfax Theatre in Los Angeles, unsupported by advertising from 20th Century Fox. This version has been universally praised and is what Ridley Scott originally wanted released to theaters, and is approximately 45 minutes longer than the original theatrical cut. The DVD of the extended Director's Cut was released on May 23, 2006. It is a four-disc box set with a runtime of 194 minutes, and is shown as a road show presentation with an overture, intermission and entr'acte. (The Blu-ray version omits the roadshow elements and runs for 189 minutes). Ridley Scott gave an interview to STV on the occasion of the Director's Cut's UK release, when he discussed the motives and thinking behind the new version.

After the pitching of this film, studio marketing executives took it to be an action-adventure hybrid rather than what Ridley Scott and William Monahan intended it to be: a historical epic examining religious conflict. 20th Century Fox promoted the film as an action movie with heavy elements of romance, and in their advertising campaign, they made much of the "From the Director of Gladiator" slogan. When Scott presented the 194 minute version of the film to the studio, they balked at the length. Studio head Tom Rothman ordered the film to be trimmed down to only two hours, as he did not believe that a modern audience would go to see a three hour and fifteen minute movie. Ultimately, Rothman's decision backfired as the film gained mixed reviews (with many commenting that the film seemed "incomplete") and severely under-performed at the US box office.

The Director's Cut (DC) has received a distinctly more positive reception from film critics than the theatrical release, with many reviews suggesting that it offers a much greater insight into the motivations of individual characters. Scott and his crew have all stated that they consider the Director's Cut to be the true version of the film and the theatrical cut more of an action movie trailer for the real film. Reviewers have described it as the most substantial Director's Cut of all time and a title to equal any of Scott's other works

Director's Cut PlotEdit

In a remote village in France in 1184, Balian (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith, is haunted by his wife's (Nathalie Cox) recent suicide, following the stillbirth of their child. A group of Crusaders arrive at the small village and one of them approaches Balian, introducing himself as his out-of-wedlock father, Baron Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson). Godfrey, having learned of Balian's recent losses, attempts to persuade Balian to join him as they travel to Jerusalem, in the hope he will eventually take his place as Godfrey's heir. Balian quickly refuses and, after resupplying and resting, the Crusaders ride on. Shortly afterwards, the corrupt town priest (Michael Sheen) is revealed to be his brother to Balian. His brother claims to Balian that his wife's body was beheaded before burial. (a customary practice in those times for people who committed suicide) He mock's Balian about his wife being a suicide as he claims that she will stay in hell. Balian soon find's the crucifix she had wore was now around his brother's neck.

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Godfrey and Balian journey to Jerusalem.

Enraged at these insults, Balian lights the priest on fire, slays him with the sword he is working on, and takes the crucifix necklace his dead wife once wore. Balian quickly decides to follow his father after all, in the hope of gaining redemption and forgiveness for both his wife and himself. Shortly after he catches up to his father, soldiers led by Godfrey's nephew arrive, ostensibly to arrest Balian (The actual reason being the assassination of both Balian and Godfrey under the appearance of a bandit attack, so the nephew would inherit Godfrey's lands around Jerusalem). Godfrey refuses to hand him over and, though they win the ensuing fight, most of Godfrey's band is killed. Godfrey himself is wounded by an arrow and, though he is not killed outright, it becomes clear as their journey continues that he will soon die.

In Messina, Godfrey, on the brink of death, knights Balian and orders him to serve the King of Jerusalem and protect the helpless. He ultimately shares with him his vision of "a kingdom of conscience, morality, and righteousness in the Holy Land", where Muslims and Christians can peacefully coexist, before finally succumbing to his injuries. On Balian's subsequent journey to Jerusalem, his ship is hit by a storm, leaving Balian and a horse as the sole survivors of the wreck. However, the horse then runs away as Balian attempts to mount it. Tracking the horse into the desert, Balian soon finds himself confronting a Muslim cavalier, and his servant, over possession of the horse. Balian slays the horseman in single combat, but spares the servant, asking him to guide him to Jerusalem. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, Balian releases his prisoner who then tells him his slain master was an important knight amongst the Saracens, and Balian says that he will pray for his soul. As his prisoner departs, he remarks, "Your qualities will be known among your enemies before ever you meet them". Balian goes to Golgotha, where Christ was crucified hoping to hear what God wishes of him. After a night of waiting Balian buries his wife's necklace. After being accepted as the new Lord of Ibelin by Godfrey's retainers, Balian soon becomes acquainted with the main players in Jerusalem's political arena: King Baldwin IV, stricken by leprosy yet nevertheless a wise and most sensible ruler, Tiberias, the noble but cynical Marshall of Jerusalem, Princess Sibylla, King Baldwin IV's sister, and Guy de Lusignan, Sibylla's scheming, bloodthirsty, and intolerant husband, who supports the anti-Muslim activities of brutal factions like the Knights Templar. Despite the respect Baldwin engenders from the combined Christian and Muslim population of Jerusalem, Guy, who is determined to rule after Baldwin's inevitable early death, seeks to precipitate a war that will allow him to dispose of the Muslims and claim the Kingdom for Christians alone. He is also threatened by Balian, who he sees as a rival, especially after he learns Balian and Sibylla are having an affair.

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Orlando Bloom as Balian.

Guy and his co-conspirator Raynald of Châtillon massacre a Muslim trade caravan with the aid of the Templars. Saladin, leader of the Muslim forces seeking to retake Jerusalem, attacks Kerak, Raynald's castle, to bring him to account for his crime. Balian decides to defend Kerak Castle from Saladin's cavalry, in order to protect the innocent villagers surrounding the castle. Though outnumbered, Balian and his knights charge Saladin's cavalry, allowing the villagers time to flee to the castle; Balian's cavalry is soon routed resulting in the capture of him and his men. In captivity, Balian encounters the 'servant' he freed, Imad ad-Din, learning he is actually one of Saladin's Generals, who then returns the favor, freeing Balian to Kerak as Saladin arrives with his infantry to besiege Kerak. King Baldwin IV then arrives with his main army, successfully negotiates a Muslim retreat with Saladin and averts a potential bloodbath. At Saladin's camp, several of his Generals are angry that he made a truce, but Saladin dismisses these complaints as a foolhardy rush to war; he will only launch an attack against Jerusalem after ample preparation, when he feels he is strategically strong enough. Baldwin beats Raynald and orders his arrest, but the stress of the events causes him to collapse, and his physicians discover he will die shortly.

Baldwin asks Balian to marry Sybilla (Eva Green), knowing that the pair have affection for each other, but Balian does not accept as he refuses to be associated with the necessary murder of Guy; such political intrigue being counter to Balian's morality. After Baldwin finally dies, Sibylla's son Baldwin V a child of six years becomes King of Jerusalem. Guy goes to Raynald for advice and realizes that even though Balian is not King, he can still become the General of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Aware of this threat, and infuriated by the knowledge of his wife's affair with Balian, Guy sends several Templars to murder him, but they fail, with Balian narrowly managing to defeat the assassins. It is soon realized that Baldwin is stricken like his uncle with leprosy; crushed by the knowledge of this, Sibylla euthanizes her son, preventing him from suffering. Sibylla succeeds her son and therefore names Guy as her King Consort of Jerusalem. Guy, now free to do as he pleases, releases Raynald, and has Raynald and his Templar lackeys provoke Saladin to war by murdering innocent Saracens, among them Saladin's sister. When Saladin sends an emissary to demand the return of his sister's body, the heads of those responsible, and the surrender of Jerusalem, Guy answers by cutting the emissary's throat, nearly causing a fight between Tiberias's knights, the Knights Hospitaler, and the Knights Templar. As the emissary's body is towed away, Guy arrogantly whispers "I am Jerusalem" and orders Jerusalem's army to be assembled for war.

Subsequently, in their arrogance, they march to the desert without adequate food and water to fight Saladin, leaving Jerusalem unguarded except for Balian, his personal knights, and the townspeople. Saladin's army ambushes Guy and Raynald, and the Crusader army is annihilated. Guy and Raynald themselves are captured; Saladin executes Raynald, and then marches on Jerusalem, sparing Guy out of tradition but stating that he is not worthy of this. Balian prepares the defences, challenging the Patriarch's advice to flee, and then makes a symbolic gesture by knighting a number of men-at-arms to raise morale, even knighting the man who buried his wife in France. Balian insists that their goal is to defend Jerusalem's population, not the city itself. Knowing full well they cannot defeat the Saracens, the defenders' only hope is to delay their enemies long enough for them to negotiate.

Saladin's siege of Jerusalem is three days of battle wherein Balian demonstrates tactical skill in knocking down siege towers, before inspiring the defenders to hold the line when a section of city wall is opened. Having proven their resolve, Saladin offers terms: Balian surrenders Jerusalem to Saladin when Saladin offers the inhabitants safe passage to Christian lands. Balian points out that when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem a hundred years previously, they massacred the Muslim inhabitants, but Saladin assures him that he is a man of honor, and, keeping his word, allows Balian and his people to leave: Balian also asks Saladin what Jerusalem means to him, to which he replies "Nothing. Everything". Balian encounters a freed Guy who fights Balian but loses. Facing a defeated Guy, Balian tells him "When you rise again, if you rise again, rise a knight."

In the marching column of citizens, he finds Sibylla, and convinces her to come with him. Saladin's forces destroy many of the Christian books and make the church into a mosque. Privately, Saladin picks up a cross that was thrown off and puts it back on the table as well as refusing to step on the stones carved with crucifixes. Later, Balian has returned to his village in France. A column of English knights rides through, led by King Richard I of England, who tells Balian that they are commencing a new Crusade to retake Jerusalem from Saladin. King Richard states that he is looking for Balian, who, in essence, says that his time in the Holy Land is finished, and refuses to go with them. Having been rebuffed, Richard and his knights ride off. Balian is met by Sybilla, and after a brief stop at the grave of Balian's wife, they ride off into the sunset. An epilogue states that King Richard failed in his Crusade, negotiated an uneasy truce with Saladin after three years of war, and that "nearly a thousand years later, peace in the Kingdom of Heaven remains elusive."

Director's Cut InformationEdit

  • The village priest who taunts Balian and is killed by him is revealed to be his half-brother (his mother's son by her lawful husband). The animosity between them is shown as originating from the priest's coveting of the firstborn Balian's meager inheritance.
  • Godfrey is not only the father of Balian but the younger brother of the village lord who believes that Godfrey is looking for his own son to be Godfrey's heir in Ibelin. It is this lord's son and heir who organizes the attack on Godfrey's party in the forest and is subsequently killed.
  • Both subplots above hinge on the firstborn son's right to exclusive inheritance: this is what apparently drove Godfrey to the Holy Land and the priest to his scheming against Balian.
  • Baldwin IV is shown refusing the last sacrament from Patriarch Heraclius.
  • Another major change is the re-insertion of the character of Baldwin V (who was shown in some of the trailers), the son of Sibylla by her first husband (William of Montferrat, not named in the film). The boy is crowned King after Baldwin IV's death, but is then discovered to have leprosy, like his uncle. His death is depicted as an act of euthanasia by his mother, dropping poison in his ear. Only then is Sibylla crowned queen and has Guy crowned, as in the theatrical version.
  • Balian fights a climactic duel with Guy near the end of the film, after Jerusalem is surrendered and Guy has been released by Saladin (an act intended to humiliate Guy in the eyes of his former subjects). Guy is humiliated furthermore by challenging Balian to a duel, being defeated, and then spared by Balian.
  • More violence, blood and gore are re-inserted. Aftermath of the ambush involves a execution with a spike going into a man's head. Caravan scene is more graphic, seige of Jerusalem is a little more violent.
  • A scene with Balian discussing his situation with the Hospitaller in the desert, which included the line "I go to pray" (featured in most trailers) is re-inserted.
  • It is made clear that Guy de Lusignan knows that Sibylla is having an affair with Balian; however, he is interested in her only for political reasons.
  • It is revealed that Balian has fought in several battles in the past, is skilled at strategic fighting and is well known for building siege engines.
  • Saladin decapitates Raynald de Chatillon instead of only cutting his throat; this is generally believed to be more historically accurate.
  • Sibylla is portrayed much more as a corrupt princess and unpredictable as she herself stated.
  • Certain music cue's omitted from the theatrical cut is replaced back into the Director's Cut.

External LinksEdit

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