Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure,Drama,Romance Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut

Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut

There is nothing more infuriating than a panicked studio-head, who fears box office numbers will be drastically affected by a film’s length or rating, regardless if it’s a potential candidate for best picture or a genuine masterpiece. The studio that just so happened to back this particular film are also the same monsters who rushed X-Men: The Last Stand into production (with mediocre results), forced a PG-13 rating on this past summer’s blockbuster sequel, Live Free Or Die Hard and also gave the same rating treatment to 2004’s Alien V. Predator.

Obviously, I disliked the theatrical cut of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, which majority of the world saw, and to this day, I am still mystified as to how anyone could’ve enjoyed it. The film felt so disconnected, unemotional and off beat (very similar to Troy), restricting one only to view the battle sequences as a grand spectacle rather than a gripping action scene. And though it isn’t the first film where the studio’s final say is apparent, it is, however, the first film to be so painfully obvious about it.

Normally, I’m skeptic about Director’s Cuts. In most situations, their just an excuse for DVD sales but not in Kingdom of Heaven’s case, not by a long shot. The film is restored with forty-five minutes of added footage and the extra-long running time makes all the difference. Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut is arguably one of Ridley Scott’s absolute best films to date.

The story centers on Balian (played by Orlando Bloom), who aids the city of Jerusalem during the 12th century Crusades, to defend the people from the muslim leader Saladin (intelligently played by Ghassan Massoud) as he launches a vicious attack on the Christians. During Balian’s journey, he searches for answers from God, finds love again and reunites with his long lost father, Godfrey (played by the always-amazing Liam Nesson). It’s a busy movie.

If you share mutual feelings towards the film and felt there was something missing from the original cut, then you’d be right. The priest who constantly torments Balian is his brother! Sibylla (Eva Green) has a son! And there is a final confrontation between Balian and Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas) that definitely should’ve made the cut. Not only did these smaller story details add another layer of depth to the characters but it granted me the emotional impact that I so desperately wanted from this film.

Orlando Bloom, who I’ve never really been a fan of, impresses me here more so than he did in the original. His contemplative expression and pensive eyes worked so well for the character in the new version and often times, you could actually figure out what he’s thinking about. Liam Nesson, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Marton Csokas, David Thewlis, Edward Norton (who plays the king but remains uncredited for it) and every one else in the cast give flawless performances as they did in the original but the one who stands out greatly in this, as opposed to the original, is Eva Green. Her entire story thread is finally revealed and fleshed out and she easily has the most heartbreaking scene in the entire film. Every look, every tear and every bit of dialogue is right on point. I adored her performance in this version.

The cinematography, like the original, is just breathtaking. The opening shots are by far some of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen on film. The score by Harry-Gregson Williams is absolutely flawless. The music alone adds just another layer of emotion to this epic masterpiece. William Monahan, who recently won an oscar for writing the Departed, draws every character so clearly and accurately captures the living conditions of the time. It is a brilliant screenplay. Lastly, Ridley Scott. This man has given us Gladiator, Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise and Black Hawk Down and in my personal opinion, Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut is his best film. He should’ve easily been nominated for Best Director and it’s truly a shame that he has yet to win a gold statue.

If you have or haven’t seen the theatrical cut, it doesn’t matter, I beg you to seek this film. Like most people, you will be missing out on one of the greatest epics out there, certainly the best film about the Crusades. Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut is worth the trouble of finding it.

3 thoughts on “Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut”

  1. Interesting…I thought Kingdom of Heaven was a bit of a yawn back when i saw it in theatres. Maybe I’ll see if I’ve missed anything with the Directors Cut

  2. You’ve made me think twice about this film. When I rented the theatrical release version I couldn’t get through the first half hour. I’ll try the Director’s Cut and see what happens. Nice review.

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