Kingdom of Heaven (2005)




Director:     Ridley Scott.

Starring:     Martin Hancock (Gravedigger),  Michael Sheen (Priest),  Nathalie Cox (Balian's Wife),  Eriq Ebouaney (Firuz),  Jouko Ahola (Odo),  David Thewlis (Hospitaler),  Liam Neeson (Godfrey de Ibelin),  Philip Glenister (Squire),  Orlando Bloom (Balian de Ibelin),  Bronson Webb (Apprentice),  Kevin McKidd (English Sergeant),  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Village Sheriff),  Steven Robertson (Angelic Priest),  Marton Csokas (Guy de Lusignan),  Alexander Siddig (Imad).

Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century


Spoiler Warning: 




Probably because our new age of Crusades, this movie surprisingly started a minor controversy.  Quite a few reviewers declared that the history on which the movie was based was a pack of lies.  I think this is due more to America's current war atmosphere created by the War on Terror than history.  The history is described below.  It is hardly controversial.  But because Muslims were not denigrated in the movie and one Crusader leader was, the film was accused of great bias.  I suppose our current war enthusiasts would prefer a movie showing the Muslims as barbarians and the Christians as near angels.

I enjoyed the film and was surprised by the "controversy".  I did not see it as anti-Christian, but rather critical of one particular Christian leader.  But then again, I'm not pushing for continued wars with the Muslim world until they are all turned into democracies.  The political right believes that it is virtually unpatriotic for a film not to show the Muslims in a negative light. 

The film is not a great film, but it is a good action film with some historical insight.   


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:

The Third Crusade

In Kingdom of Heaven, Orlando Bloom plays a young, Spanish blacksmith named Balian of Ibelin who history says turned over command of Jerusalem to the Muslim warlord Saladin during a battle between the Second and Third Crusades.

1178  --  there was peace between Saladin and the Crusader States, in part because the great Muslim leader Saladin was still recovering from his defeats in the Second Crusade.

1179  --  Saladin renewed his attacks and defeated the Crusaders at the Ford of Jacob's Daughter. 

Especially vexing to Saladin and the Muslims was the Crusader Raynald of Chatillon.  He harassed Muslim trade/pilgrimage routes.  Even worse, he threatened to attack the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. 

1185  -- Raynald looted a caravan of pilgrims on the Haji.  This forced Saladin to respond.

1187 (July 4)  --  at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin defeated a combined force of Guy of Lusignan, King consort of Jerusalem, and Raymond III of Tripoli.   This was a major disaster for the Crusaders and also a turning point in the history of the Crusades.

Saladin captured Raynald and personally decapitated him.

Also captured was Guy of Lusignan.

1187 (October 2)  --  in the Siege of Jerusalem, Saladin recaptured that holy city after 88 years of Crusader rule.

Saladin had a policy of letting the Christian armies leave after their defeat.  This helped the Muslim take back every Crusader city except Tyre.

1188  --  Saladin released Guy of Lusignan.  He and his wife Queen regnant Sibylla of Jerusalem took refuge at Tyre.



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