My Rating: 8/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 39%
PLOT: After the death of his wife, Balian (Orlando Bloom) travels to Jerusalem during the Crusades of the 12th century, searching for inner peace, and instead finds himself the defender of the city and its people.
WHY IT’S HERE:
Because it’s one my pet genres: a man in search of himself, against an epic backdrop. And because it’s Ridley Scott, it’s not just an epic backdrop, it’s EPIC, all caps. To be sure, much historical license was taken, and scholars can debate those merits to their heart’s content. Not me. I enjoy this movie on the basis of the spectacle it presents on both scales, in terms of a character study and in its depiction of ancient battles mingled with religious politics. In terms of the unavoidable religious aspects of the film, I have to say, honestly, with all my heart, I have no opinion. The film does, though. I would point to a great line from the film, which is a true fact, no matter how thin you slice it: “We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended.” Also, a fabulously poetic scene occurs when Jerusalem’s wall has been breached, and soldiers from both sides clash in the breach. In a long unbroken shot, we see the soldiers fighting furiously in the middle of the ruined castle walls. Neither side gives, no ground is gained or lost. The camera pulls up and up, slowly, giving a bird’s eye view, and I found myself wondering…what would God think of all this carnage? The blood spilled, the lives lost, in this furious battle? …as I say, the movie has a much stronger opinion on this struggle than I. The end title card explains that even today, peace in the Kingdom of Heaven remains elusive. You can sense the remorse in those words.