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Kingdom of Heaven


Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Kingdom of Heaven

From established epic-film-director Ridley Scott (Alien, Black Hawk Down) comes his follow-up to Gladiator, this time courtesy of the Crusades; military expeditions by western Christians to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11-12th centuries. Orlando Bloom stars as Balian, a French blacksmith whose wife committed suicide after the death of their child - Christian belief assuring him she has been condemned to Hell. Reunited with his lost father (Neeson), Balian learns the honour of being a knight and travels to Jerusalem where he believes all sins can be atoned and he can save his wife's soul. There he inadvertently becomes caught up in the Crusades, and whilst leading an army into battle comes to terms with his own beliefs and the meaning of faith and honour.

The big question surrounding the film was whether Bloom could carry the lead. He just about pulls it off, certainly managing to look the hero but there would have been more suitable choices. The rest of the cast are really good, especially Neeson as Balian's father, Norton sensitively playing the leper, King Baldwin keen for peace and Massoud giving a wonderfully dignified portrayal of Saladin.

It seems we have been inundated with grand battle scenes in recent years, but while you may feel numbed by the likes of Gladiator, Troy and Alexander, Scott does not fail to deliver a fresh wave of destruction and gore, which will leave you wanting more. The visual impact is everything you would expect, from lavish backdrops to intricate sets and beautiful costumes. Kingdom of Heaven is not entirely historically accurate, as Scott is the first to admit, but rather "inspired by true events", as expected from a piece of entertainment. Thankfully, the film offers a fair representation of both Christians and Muslims, truthfully portraying both their atrocities and Scott draws parallels between each side's dogged pursuit of faith, highlighting the dangers of extremism of any kind and the importance of tolerance. The real tragedy comes at the close of the film, with the observation that people are still fighting over the same things now they were 1000 years ago and an end is still not in sight.

Hannah Upton

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)