Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Kingdom of Heaven

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and epic warfare

Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
CONTRIBUTOR

Plus, INTERVIEWS with Director Ridley Scott and Orlando Bloom—by Chris Monroe (see interview page)

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
War Action Adventure Romance Drama
Length:
2 hr. 25 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
May 6, 2005 (wide)
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
Copyright, 20th Century Fox

To better understand the worldview of the creator’s of this film, read our INTERVIEW with actor Orlando Bloom and director Ridley Scott

GOD—How can we know there’s a God? Answer

THE CRUSADES—An apology from Christians to Muslims regarding the Crusades—Read it

ISLAM—What is Islam? What do muslims believe? Answer

RELIGION—Aren’t all religions basically the same? Answer

With so many denominations and religions, how can I decide which are true and which are false? Answer

BIBLE—How do we know the Bible is true? Answer

Is the Bible truth or tabloid? Answer

About Jerusalem

GOD—A skeptic asks: “Why should any one have to accept ancient hearsay as evidence for the existence of a god? If Jesus is who he said he was, then he shouldn’t have any problem personally convincing me of that fact, especially considering the penalty with which he is supposedly ready to zap anyone who doesn’t believe. In fact, I’d say, all things considered, he is a twisted monster for not doing just that.” Response

GOSPEL—Does Christianity need to develop a NEW gospel adapted to today’s world? Answer

SUFFERING—If there is a God, why does He allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

SUFFERING—Does God feel our pain? Answer

EVIL AND BAD—The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer

Featuring: Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons, Eva Green
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Ridley Scott
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

From the director of “Gladiator”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is an epic adventure about a common man who finds himself thrust into a decades-long war. A stranger in a strange land, he serves a doomed king, falls in love with an exotic and forbidden queen, and rises to knighthood. Ultimately, he must protect the people of Jerusalem from overwhelming forces while striving to keep a fragile peace.”

Review

“The Kingdom of Heaven” is not as anti-Christian as I feared and not as good an action move as I had hoped. The criticisms it has received—the miscasting of Orlando Bloom, the blatant anti-clericalism, the pretentious speeches—are, sadly, well-deserved. Aristotle famously observed that in drama “action reveals character.” Unfortunately, director Ridley Scott channels Ayn Rand and tries to reveal character through political speeches. Not surprisingly, he succeeds in revealing the viewer’s boredom instead.

The plot concerns the third of eight crusades to the Holy Lands performed in the years roughly between 1095 and 1291 A.D. The opening titles tell us that the year is exactly 1184 and that “Europe is in a state of repression and poverty.” The observant viewer can discern this even without the helpful description because everything European is dirty, shabby, and ragged. This includes not just the peasantry, but also the blasphemous priests and rapacious noblemen who, having plundered the Middle East for gold, frankincense, and myrrh, nonetheless returned looking like they’d been on a three year long drunk.

Meanwhile, everything Arabic is bed-bath-and-beyond beautiful. The Saracens have nicely coiffed hair, neatly trimmed beards, and are dressed to the nines in special dust-resistant robes with intricate embroidery. Judging by the difference in clothing, I’m confident the Catholic Church almost certainly went to war just to capture the Muslim robes. The rags the priests wear are an absolute indictment of Christian tailors.

The movie has no objectionable nudity, blasphemy, profanity, or nuance. The film plays longer than its hefty 145 minutes because (I’m guessing) Scott’s research showed that time was notoriously slower in the Middle Ages. The speeches are boring, pompous, and transparently anti-religious. The priests are poor theologians and offer spiritual guidance that one can only describe as a kind of uplifting nihilism: “I’m your priest,” one comforts Balian (Orlando Bloom). “God has abandoned you.”

This is the same priest that plunders the gold cross from Balian’s dead wife and then orders the gravediggers to chop off her head as a large cross looms behind him. Some viewers may feel enlightened by such symbolism, but Christians will notice that the only other headchopping is done by a crusader. The Prophet Mohammed instituted a scriptural basis in the Koran 500 years earlier for chopping off the heads of infidels, but Scott’s research must have concluded that it was really graveyard priests who liturgized the practice that is now such a hit with Muslim jihadists.

Besides the droll priest, there is also a bishop who has some great lines, as when he advocates jumping on the fastest horse and abandoning the people of Jerusalem to slaughter. He simpers to Balian: “It is unfortunate about the people, but,” he says, ending on a positive note, “it is God’s will.” When it’s too late to flee, he helpfully tells Balian, “Convert to Islam.Repent later.” There are various shots of monks and other clerics blessing the crusaders as they go off to do their dirty work: “To kill an infidel is not murder. It’s the path to heaven.” Whether it’s priest or crusader, massacre and the blessing of massacre is all in a day’s work. As the mad knight Reynald gleefully reflects after one of his slaughters: “I am what I am.Someone has to be!”

That “I am” speech comes dangerously close to blaspheming God’s speech in Exodus 3:14: “I am who I am.” The one relatively noble Christian, Tiberius (the name of a pagan Roman emperor), tells Balian: “The world has no need of a perfect knight.” And in that statement we can find the clearest expression of Scott’s anti-religious agenda. Christ, of course, is the “perfect knight” and look, the movie seems to say, at all the killing that’s been done in his name. In the movie’s war of words, its secular pieties are repeated ad nauseum.

The opposing idea to Reynald’s travesty of God’s speech is the Humanist commandment that Balian carved in a beam of his smithy shop: “What man is a man that does not leave the world better.” Balian’s father (Liam Neeson) tells him that he must always speak the truth, even if it costs him his life. The good king of Jerusalem, dying of leprosy, wears a silver mask and tells Balain that he will not be forgiven for wrong deeds, “Even where those who move you be kings, or men of power.” When Balian refuses to have the wicked Guy de Lusignan killed, he declares that, implicitly, Jerusalem is “a kingdom of conscience or it is nothing.” All of these speeches must be understood in the context of their antithesis: to act according to enlightened humanist principles is more rational and moral than to act according to an irrational faith.

There are two symbolic scenes at the end of the movie. In the first, during the battle for Jerusalem, we see the captured king of Jerusalem riding backwards on a donkey before the city gates wearing what looks like a dunce cap. That gratuitous anti-Jesus image will anger some Christians and cause others to roll their eyes in disbelief, but its purpose is to serve as a perfect bookend to Reynald’s speech above. Scott makes sure he mocks the Son as well as the Father. But aside from Christians, I wonder how sincere Muslims will feel about one of their prophets being mocked for laughs by the movie’s religious Muslims?

The second instance of heavy-handed symbolism occurs when Saladin picks up a fallen altar cross and sets it on a table, a gesture so ludicrous as to provide an inadvertent moment of comic relief. The battle in Jerusalem concludes with Balian leaving town while portentously pronouncing, “If this is the Kingdom of Heaven, let God do with it as he wills.”

The “Kingdom of Heaven” is not a terrible movie, although its historical assumptions are biased, incomplete, and error-ridden. For instance, there is no mention of the fact that the Muslims conquered Spain four hundred years before the crusades, They occupied Spain for nearly seven hundred years, until the fall of Granada in 1492, which might explain why the Spanish are sympathetic to Muslims. Islamic armies had even advanced into France where Charles Martel defeated them at the Battle of Tours in 733. A fair-minded observer might suggest that those wars of aggression and conquest against Christian lands might have something to do with why Christians were feeling a little cranky in 1184.

But aside from those deceptions, there is little in it to offend and less to recommend it. For those who want to see more of less, Scott is producing a 285 minute director’s cut on DVD. Fair warning: if you sit through the whole thing, your clothes may acquire that shabby look that Scott’s research has shown to be distinctly Christian.

 
INTERVIEW
Copyright © 2005 20th Century Fox
To better understand the worldview of the creator’s of this film, read our interview with actor Orlando Bloom and director Ridley Scott (shown above)
 

More importantly, all the egregious anti-Christian scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor will be on full display there. One Muslim scholar who saw the full version of the film said the scenes of Muslims destroying churches would cause anti-Muslim hatred. Ridley no doubt took that sympathetic advice to heart and left those scenes out. Note: he left them out, not of sensitivity to Christian sensibilities, but out of sensitivity to Muslim ones.

My advice is to rent “Phantom of the Opera” and withhold your eight bucks from this anti-Christian plate offering. Hollywood is on a relentless crusade of its own against Christianity. Why fund more of the same?

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

ADDENDUM

Michael the Syrian, the 12th century Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, reproducing earlier contemporary sources in his famous Chronicle, summarized the prevailing conditions for Christians in Palestine, as follows:

As the Turks were ruling the lands of Syria and Palestine, they inflicted injuries on Christians who went to pray in Jerusalem, beat them, pillaged them, levied the poll tax at the gate of the town and also at Golgotha and the [Holy] Sepulchre; and in addition, every time they saw a caravan of Christians, particularly of those from Rome and the lands of Italy, they made every effort to cause their death in diverse ways. And when countless people had perished as a result, the kings and counts were seized with [religious] zeal and left Rome; troops from all these countries joined them, and they came by sea to Constantinople [First Crusade (1096-99)].”

Also, see articles (off-site): Jihad begot the Crusades

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I… was amazed at the quality. Not only does this movie have spectacular effects and sets and costumes as promised by the makers, but the storyline is great. You really relate to the main character, Balian. Most of us face doubt and we question our beliefs and our worthiness in God’s eyes, but that should not stop us from doing what is right. Balian’s relationship with Nasir is a great example of respect and compasion among enemies. Because Balian showed mercy to Nasir, later Balian receives mercy from Nasir.

Though short, Balian’s relationship with his father is one of profound importance in which it helps mold him into the man he is to become. In short I truly enjoyed this movie. Every aspect of the production was magnificent and the actors all gave a wonderfull performance. It was great to see familiar and respected actors and some new talents. I think Orlando Bloom delivered a great performance, and I look forward to following his career.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Alejandra Orozco, age 22
Positive—Best epic ever made by Scott. I was able to see this movie two weeks early. All that I know is that this was a high budget, grade-A film! When I went in to see KOH I expected to see a awful remake of “Gladiator,” but I was surprised to see such a great epic that was very close to accurate! This movie is far better than “Gladiator” and I love “Gladiator”! The story is set in the 12th century; the film focuses on a young blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) who becomes a knight and helps defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders. There is also a love story, as the young knight falls in love with a hot princess (Eva Green). Great battle scenes. Bloom was great, green was hot, Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons played there roles the best! I loved the way Scott mixed action, war, drama, and he fit romance in there to. All in all, a must see movie for all viewers over 10 years.
My Ratings: Average/5
—Tom Smith, age 20
PositiveRidley Scott gives us good Christian men characters in the film, for example Tiberius. Tiberius does not lose his faith as is suggested by some of the other reviews, he just realizes God was not with him during the sin he commited by being a crusader. The fact that he provides moderate Christian views as a christian alternative to those christians that commited a crime against humanity in the crusades is a look at what all christian should strive to be, peaceful loving spiritual people who follow the teachings of Christ.

Also according to each of the three major religions that are dealt with, here each faith has a rightful claim to Jerusalem. And it is true historical fact that Salidan did provide the christians safe passage to the sea after retaking Jerusalem, in spite of the fact that the christians killed every man woman and child in the city when that had previously conquered it. I also do not understand the condemning of the idea that all of these people of religion should live and worship in the same city peacefully, nor do I understand it being called humanistic. At the basis of each of these religions is the ultimate teaching of love and peace. That being said the film still lacked in character development and action, but overall was entertaining. The fact is that not all things done in the name of God are Godly or rightous, and the crusades is a great example of how this is true. We as christian should learn from this.
My Ratings: Average/4
—John, age 24
Positive—…In terms of the stance taken toward the Muslims of the time, at most this film could be considered too sympathetic toward them… I enjoyed this film and never felt as if my faith was under attack. On the contrary, it struck me as if the director and writer were searching for genuine meaning in religion, and were opposed to nominalism and institutionalism. Well, guess what—so am I. …the institutional church of the time was to a great degree corrupt, and the priests who specifically rallied the troops for the Crusades were themselves an atrocious substitute for genuine biblical leadership. I too oppose *that* kind of clericalism! …Karounos claims that Reynald’s “‘I am’ speech comes dangerously close to blaspheming God’s speech in Exodus 3:14: ‘I am who I am.’” This is just nonsense. First of all there’s no reason to presume this was the intent of the script’s dialogue; and secondly even if that were the case, it could easily be attributed to the evil of the character, not of the writer or director. Do a little research and you’ll find that the real Reynald was indeed a violent and despicable person.

…Nominal Christianity was what barred Jews and Muslims from entering Jerusalem in the years of the so-called “Kingdom of Jerusalem” leading up to Saladin’s recapture of the city in 1187—after which time, lo and behold, the Muslim leader “permitted worship of all religions.” (Source: “Jerusalem” in Wikipedia.org) The Columbia Encyclopedia adds: “The reputation that Saladin had among the Christians for generosity and chivalry does not seem to have been a legend” (“Saladin” at Bartleby.com). Despite whatever historical inaccuracies are to be found in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, apparently Saladin really was a more honorable man than the nominal Christians against whom he warred…
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Andy, age 37
Positive—…This movie is violent and gory, but isn’t life a lot at times. This epic is also long about 2 and ½ hours long, but breathtakingly filmed. I think all Christian adults can make an exception and see this rated R film.
My Ratings: Average/4
—John Strickland, age 36
Positive—I thought this was a good movie; it was well written and kept your attantion. It was really clean, (no sex, nudity, language) which was its best feature. I’m not a history buff, so I wouldn’t say it’s all historically correct, or spirtually for that matter. Remember, it’s Hollywood, when do they ever get anything right! But if you put all that aside, it was a pretty good movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3½
—Kris, age 24
Positive—I’m not sure what to think about this film. …At the very most, “Kindom Of Heaven” was beautiful. It looks absolutely fantastic. The visual elements, and superbly executed action scenes made this movie worth seeing on the big screen. Again, there are many other films that exploit their visual fair to better effect, but Kingdom holds up well enough. There is nothing we haven’t seen before, with the exception of a central character who we only see behind a haunting mask.

There are other bigger problems then that however, not the least of which was the casting of Orlando Bloom. Maybe we’re just getting tired of his pretty face, but the film would have been much better with a more appropriate actor. more »
My Ratings: Very Offensive/4½
—Cade Loven, age 18
Positive—I think the criticisms of this movie are unwarranted. “Kingdom of Heaven” is not anti-Christian, what it is, is ant-futility. I think Ridley Scott and his crew have made a flawed but insightful film about the the absurdity of three of the world’s great religions feuding over what is meant to be one of the Holiest places on Earth. If people cannot get along in Jerusalem, where can they get along? Like it or not we all have to live together or not.

The film comes across as more pro-Muslim than other Hollywood films but only because other films are generally so anti-Muslim. Yet, historians have noted that even many Crusaders considered Saladin a more chivalrous leader than some of their leaders. One of the central themes of the film is to do what is right and just, over what is easy. Another central theme is—follow God not religious dogma. Religion divides God unites.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Frank, age 29
Neutral
Neutral—While I disagree with the noble portrayal of the Muslims in this movie, I believe the portrayal of the Catholic Church is entirely accurate. The fact is that murderers and thugs of all kinds were released from prisons and given absolution from all their sins if they would go on the crusades. Unspeakable acts against infidels were condoned and encouraged by the Catholic Church. …It’s best to acknowledge the atrocities done in the name of Christ and then explain that the reason is simple, Satan hates the name of Christ and will do anything to discredit Christianity and the Bible. It’s like identity theft. If I steal your identity and run up a bunch of bills, you are not responsible for those bills. In the same way evil people hijack the name of Christ to give themselves legitimacy. Their actions are not Christian. That is why it is so important for Christians to read and study the Bible for themselves.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Ian Mann, age 53
Neutral—“Jerusalem belongs to everyone” Is the modern humanist theme that is spoken by the “christian” defender of Jerusalem, just before Saladin’s siege in this movie. Any real analysis of the promises of God in the Old Testament reveal very plainly that God specifically gave all of the land of Israel to the Israelites. Obviously, they rebelled against Him, but that did not erase God’s promise to them. Just as our sin does not erase God’s grace through Christ.

Jesus said “…Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled…” -Luke 21. God finally reestablished Jerusalem in 1948 as the capital of Israel. The times of the Gentiles are coming to an end. more »
My Ratings: Average/3½
—John DiBartolo, age 33
Neutral—It depends on how you view the film, If you view the big picture, you’ll find that 1) Christians were not depicted as they really were back then. The relation between the main character and God was that of a distant God who because he (the main character) had committed murder, he first had to do something to gain God’s forgiveness and have a relationship with God. (In other words) he “ignores” God’s grace). 2) Muslims were pretty much depicted as “heroes” if you will. They were shown as if they had every right to take Jerusalem, which is really reserved for God’s people, Jews and Christians.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3½
—P, age 21
Neutral—While I disagree with the noble portrayal of the Muslims in this movie, I believe the portrayal of the Catholic Church is entirely accurate. The fact is that murderers and thugs of all kinds were released from prisons and given absolution from all their sins if they would go on the crusades. Unspeakable acts against infidels were condoned and encouraged by the Catholic Church.

Pretending it didn’t happen only makes it look like you are trying to cover up. It’s best to acknowledge the atrocities done in the name of Christ and then explain that the reason is simple, Satan hates the name of Christ and will do anything to discredit Christianity and the Bible. more »
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Ian Mann, age 53
Neutral—I found the movie inspiring, even though the Crusaders were portrayed in a very negative light. I am not trying to excuse their actions, but I affirm that both sides were very guilty in God’s sight, whether it was a war of aggression or retaliation, they were all living by the sword, and dying by the same.

The reason I found it inspiring is because it portrays a Christ-like insight of what the Kingdom of Heaven is truly all about. I think the movie can be enjoyed by any fair-minded believing Christian, when seen in light of three New Testament verses, and indeed that was my experience: more »
My Ratings: Average/3
—RG, age 23
Neutral—First off, to answer one comment, this film doesn’t touch Gladiator. There’s no main character you become that involved with, no real emotional connection to the hero or absolute hatred of the villan.

…Are there some anti-Christian undertones in the film? At times there are, no question, but people seem to be ignoring the other truths the film presents. In one instance Tyberias tells Balian, “Holiness is in right action. What God desires is here (points to his head) and here (points to his heart).” That sounds like a rather accurate description of faith and works to me. Bailian also disregards the very “religious” traditions presented to him at several times during the film and later sarcastically tells a bishop “I’ve learned a lot about religion from you” in response to his very religious advice. more »
My Ratings: Average/3
—Chris F, age 31
Negative
Negative—Not surprisingly the movie is revisionistic, although the edited version is not as bad as I had anticipated. As a historian (my history of the Holy Roman Empire comes out in a few months), I was amused to find Guy of Lusignan depicted as having started the war with Saladin, whereas in reality Saladin had been planning an attack for years. Guy of Lusignan was also portrayed as secretly cooperating with the Templar Knights to start the war, when, in fact, the Templar knights hated Guy of Lusignan and refused to cooperate with him up until the end (this is one reason he failed against Saladin).

Many many other inaccuracies could be mentioned, but the biggest problem with the movie was the lack of sympathetic characters. Only Baldwin IV was a truly noble character which left you not really caring about anyone. Why should I care if they lived or died if I don’t really like any of them? I do not have a problem per se with the depiction of corrupt priests or knights (as they certainly existed), but surely there are some noble priests and knights somewhere?

Overall, the movie is, like most Ridley Scott movies, well made, has beautiful cinematography, and violent. It is better than “Gladiator, but I was not a fan (Commodus DID NOT die in the arena) of that movie. If Scott had created some more sympathetic characters the movie would have been much better. As is, it is a beautiful production, but has no depth and is largely a politically correct depiction of the Crusades with Catholics as the true villains.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/2½
David Criswell, Ph.D., age 38
Negative—Ridley Scott’s blockbuster epic “Kingdom of Heaven” presents one of the worst distortions of history seen on any screen in recent years. Focusing on the fall of Jerusalem in AD 1187, to Saladin’s Muslim armies, this anti-Christian, politically correct revisionism gets everything wrong.

WHO CARES ABOUT GEOGRAPHY? First of all, Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” has its geography very wrong. We know that the film was shot in Spain and Morocco, and it shows. Most people should know that Jerusalem is not in the middle of the Sahara Desert! Yet, in his film, Jerusalem’s high walls are surrounded by sand dunes, without a tree, a bush or a blade of grass. The Mount of Olives, the Kidron Valley and the Valley of Hinnon are nowhere to be seen. Unlike the Crusaders who liberated Jerusalem in 1099, Saladin’s Army has no problem moving his siege engines and assault towers right up to the walls of Jerusalem, because Scott’s Jerusalem in “Kingdom of Heaven” is not surrounded by valleys or ditches. This film also boldly asserts that Messina was the seaport to the Holy Land. As Messina is on the Island of Sicily, one wonders why French crusaders would, or how they could, depart from there. In fact, Genoa, Venice and Naples were the ports which crusaders set sail from.

THIS IS A TRUE STORY—ONLY THE FACTS HAVE BEEN CHANGED: “Kingdom of Heaven” also distorts history beyond all recognition. The “hundred-year truce” between the Christian and Muslim armies is a figment of their imagination. The warfare throughout the 12th Century was incessant. The depiction of the Knight’s Templar as a band of religious fanatics trying to shatter the truce and provoke war with the Muslims by attacking caravans is a total fabrication. No Knight’s Templar ever attacked any caravans. Attacking caravans is what the founder of Islam, Muhammad, engaged in regularly, as did his handpicked apostles, the Caliphs. The Knights Templar were formed primarily to protect travelers from the attacks of the Muslim army. In fact, it was the slaughter of Christian pilgrims, by Muslim armies, in violation of earlier agreements of safe passage that precipitated the crusades in the first place.

The central figure of this film, Sir Balian, is a historical figure, did in fact play a critical role in the defense of Jerusalem in 1187, but the film script distorts his character and role beyond all recognition. First of all, Balian was not a blacksmith, nor did his wife commit suicide, nor was he illegitimate, nor raised as a commoner. His father, Balian the Old (not Godfrey, as in the movie), had three sons, all legitimate: Hugh, Baldwin and Balian. Balian never had to travel to the Holy Land, because he grew up as part of the nobility there. Balian was married to royalty long before the events portrayed in the film, and he was not at all romantically involved with the Princess Sybilla. (His brother, Baldwin, had some love interest in Sybilla.) In “Kingdom of Heaven,” Balian is portrayed as questioning whether God exists, although, according to the historical records, it is clear that Balian was a dedicated Christian who took his faith very seriously. Nor did Balian desert the defense of the Holy Land following the fall of Jerusalem. Far from returning to France, Balian proceeded to Beirut in Lebanon which he helped fortify against Muslim invasion. He was present with Richard the Lionhearted at the signing of the peace with Saladin, which secured safe passage for Christian pilgrims and recognized crusader control over the 90 mile stretch of coastline from Tyre to Jaffa. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Dr. Peter Hammond, age 44 (South Africa)
Negative—I saw the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” with a friend of mine this evening, and it moved me enough to write you this email. However, it did not move me in the way you may think. Never have I been more disturbed at the representation of Jesus Christ and the Christian church. This movie was an absolute mockery of what the body of Christ was like during the Crusades and made every attempt to follow the psudo-liberal party line.

Every single Christian in the movie lost their faith, questioned God or eventually rejected Him. On the flip side the absolute heroes of the movie were God-fearing, wonderful Muslims who showed mercy to the Christians in time of need and even embraced the belief of living in harmony with Christians. All of you who know history would consider that laughable. I have been a fan of Ridley Scott after making movies such as “Black Hawk Down”, however, now I am just saddened at his revision of true history. more »
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/1½
—John Kehrli, age 31
Negative—I have very rarely been this offended in a movie theatre. The film portrayed Christians as blasphemous heathens pursuing their own political and moral agendas beneath the banner of the church, while the Muslims are respectful of the Christian faith, and willing to let bygones be bygones. The so-called “hero” rejects God and commits adultery with another man’s wife. The film is entirely historically inaccurate, from calling the Mohammedans “Muslims” (a practice not commonly used until the mid-nineteen hundreds) to importing ridiculous European warfare into the streets of Jerusalem.

There were two good elements: the presence of a priest played by David Thewis, the only voice of moral courage and reason in the film, and the role of the King of Jerusalem, a truly just man. But what you wind up with is a politically correct attack on Christianity that is both unfounded, inaccurate, and offensive.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/3½
Charity Bishop, age 22
Negative—Don’t worry about religion, trust me on this one—you will be spending all your time and effort trying to figure out the plot. Everyone from the first half of the movie, with the exception of Bloom, is gone in the second half; you have a whole new crowd to figure out who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys. History may be a muddle, but great movies should not be.

Christianity: Yes, Scott has an axe to grind—it comes through loud and clear. He is not the first nor will he be the last, but he is one of the more obvious. Wait for it on DVD.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/2
—Pat, age 50
Negative—…something bothered me in the film that I could not put my finger on. I think that it offers an anti-Christian and politically correct view of the Crusades. The priests depicted in the film are thieves, or cowards, while the “Christians” are either agnostics or blood-thirsty killers. There is no hope, redemption or anyone who knows Christian teachings.

The theme of the movie is to preach a modern tolerance, which means we Christians need to be more sensitive, and less dedicated to our beliefs etc. Meanwhile, the Muslims are honorable and respectable. There is the assertion that Allah is the same God that the Christians worship. A glance at the Koran, Hadith or Sharia illustrates that this is not so (see http://www.islamreview.com). Finally, we are told that the Crusades were a ploy to make men rich. I recommend a visit to small Belgium town of Bouillon. It was here the Godfrey de Bouillon lived (the Godfrey who captured Jerusalem in 1099). His castle is worth a visit http://www.bouillon.be/index.asp?lg=fpdb/frboui&page1=a-accueil.htm . He had to sell it and all his lands to pay for his role in the Crusade. Godfrey risked it all for this cause. more »
My Ratings: Very Offensive/4
—D Mastriano, age 41
Negative—It was too long for the plot. The movie could have easily been created for 90 minutes. As a Christian, I know these days that most movies are void of proper Christian themes, with a few sprinkled with pieces of Christian ethics. Christian or non-Christian, I think overall the movie was long, boring at some points, yes there was action—the bloody war scenes, but even those got tiring after a while.
My Ratings: Offensive/2
—Cliff C, age 42
Negative—…This film might be symbolic of the kingdom of hollyweird, but this is not the Kingdom of Heaven of The LORD of Hosts. The historicity is highly questionable as well!
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/3
—Bob C, age 41
Negative—Yet another politcally correct product from the liberal Hollywood factory. The priests are poor theologians, offering no motivational praise for the Crusaders. The Muslims are portrayed as victims of Christians and such. The production values were okay, but the performances were hackneyed to the point of mediocrity.
My Ratings: Offensive/3
—Shannon H., age 23
Negative—This movie is not one of Scott’s best; actually, it’s one of his worst. The movie had no character development whatsoever, it was boring, and completely confusing. Bloom can’t act at all, which is probably why he was given a total of 4 lines in the whole movie. Don’t bother wasting your money.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/1½
—Scott Williamson, age 18
Negative—I had no idea what to expect when I went to see this movie (Kingdom of Heaven) except that it was about the era of the Crusades and the takeover of the Holy Land by the Muslims. My first impression of the movie after seeing it was how anti-christian and pro-muslim it was. I also wondered how did the “Dome of the Rock” get built on the most Holy Jewish site of Solomons temple if the Muslims were so tolerant? As a result of watching the movie I have begun reading material about the Crusades/Crusaders, the on-slaught of the Holy Lands by Muslims, Knight Templars, Christian King of Jersusalem and etc. As a result I find the movie a big fabrication or lie about the events at that time.

Bottom line this movie represents typical liberal, bleeding heart “they are right and we are all wrong close minded” diatribe. Reminds me of anti-Vietnam movies like O. Stones movies Apocaplypse and etc. I can’t wait untill (a premonition) somebody in Hollywood makes a move about Abu Grab Prison or someother anti-American movie about the Iraq War. Till Then, I told you so.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/1½
—C. P. O’Neil, age 60
Negative—Who started the Crusades? If you think Christians, I would disagree. One man Urban pope II, started the Crusades. As a Christian, I do not have any of the same beliefs as Catholicism… I do not relate myself as a Christian to the Crusades. This movie never explained who started the crusades and why. If they mentioned the Pope started the crusades this would be an anti-Catholicism film. Instead of the truth, it made it sound as if the Christians started the Crusades. Very biased and makes me sick. If one would read the Koran, they would see a lot of scripture that is insane. The Muslims do not pray to the same god as my God. I do not believe in some things the Koran teaches.

I can go on and on giving history lessons. I know it was very brief and someone can easily disagree with me, but the fact is a Pope started the Crusades.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/1
—Cory, age 19
Comments from young people
Positive—I loved this movie, though I don’t agree with some of the things portrayed in the movie, I think it is an exciting, well made movie, with great acting.
My Ratings: Average/3
—Lauren, age 15
Positive—This is an awesome movie. The direction was awesome and the acting was phenomenal. It is gory but the Crusades weren’t a pretty time in history. Chistians took over Jeruselem, then the Muslims took it back. They fought for years. The movie should be viewed because of the terrific acting and breathtaking scenes.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Jackie, age 16
Neutral—I …was surprised that Orlando Bloom did as well as he did. I was expecting him to run off and cry after getting a cut on his leg like in “Troy” or something. But he didn’t, and he did a way better job than I ever thought possible. The acting by the other characters was pretty good too.

The scenery was beautiful; I loved just about every shot in the film. From the trebuchets firing to ships sinking in the sea, it looked great. Now I don’t know everything about the Crusades, but I do know that there were wrongdoings on all sides, and I think that it was portrayed alright here, not perfectly or anything, but alright none the less.

The speeches and just… pointless talking… was kind of boring, but tolerable. I am looking forward to seeing the un-cut version because I want to see what the director REALLY wanted to get across. Until I see the uncut version, I don’t know where to stand on the film, because as far as I am concerned, I have not seen the entire film.
My Ratings: Average/3½
—Cody Forsman, age 17
Positive—When I went to see this film I was amazed, it’s incredible. I don’t think it’s anti christian in the slightest, the Crusades were anti christian; you can’t change history. I am a christian, and I think it important to not get offended so easily. The battle scenes are gory, but it is necessary because that is what it would have been like. Bloom is at his best, and it flows really well. This film is about a man discovering were he belongs, and who he is—ten times better than Lord of the Rings, go and see it.

I am 15 years old, and I have never seen another film that has portrayed what happend in the Crusades. At the end of the day you can’t force people to become Christians, but in some countrys it is illegal to become a Christian. All it does is it shows what christians did in the past that was wrong, but that shouldn’t affect your judement on the film. It helps you to understand more of what people who aren’t Christians think about god. Take my word for it see it for your self.
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—jinx bells, age 16
Positive—This is the first time that I have ever written a comment on this site before, but I am glad that this is the movie for my first review. Overall, I believe that this was a very good movie. It was accurate, realistic, and action packed. But with the good always comes the bad. I was very surprised to find out about how much blashpemy there was in this film. In the beginning, Balian (Orlando), speaks of travelling to the Holy Land to find forgiveness for himself, and deceased wife. But somehow between leaving his homeland and defending Jerusalem, Balain “loses” his religion and gives various comments to other characters to make sure that they know this. Besides the other few below par, lines and actions, I thought that this movie was the best of its kind, since Gladiator.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/4
—Andrew Harwood, age 15
Movie Critics
…Christian ethics without Christ?…revisionist history about the Christian nobles in Jerusalem… strong negative attitude against organized religion, including some anti-Christian and anti-Muslim content…
—Dr. Tom Snyder, Movieguide
Ridley Scott has taken a true story from 800 years ago-Balian, Guy de Lusignan, Reynald de Chatillon, Baldwin IV, Sibylla and Saladin are all real characters-and bent it to fit his distinctly 21st century views on religion
—Tom Neven, Plugged In
…Not the epic it could have been… Bloom in this film’s lead is a casting mistake that may well doom the film…
—Annabelle Robertson, Crosswalk
…cliched but breathtaking… Not least of the script’s… flaws is that it’s hard to see how such amoral repulsive bullies could get such gigantic armies (of real believers) to be so willingly and lemmingly led to guaranteed slaughter
—Barry Paris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
…Balian works out an enlightened, egalitarian worldview that seems a good five centuries ahead of its time… only thing that’s likely to get some people worked up about “Kingdom of Heaven” is its insistence on the villainy of some Crusaders and the almost uniform dignity of their Muslim foe…
—Bob Strauss, L.A. Daily News
…A stirring Crusades movie with heroic action and a modern spin that makes the carnage feel almost moral…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
…a mostly lumbering, occasionally rousing epic…
—Ty Burr, Boston Globe