Summation: The Engrossing Saga of a Reluctant & Unlikely Crusader
Rating: 5 out of 5
It was mere happenstance that I ordered the Director’s Cut rather than the Cinema Release Version. It is a stunning period epic bringing to life the Crusades told through a blacksmith – Balian – as portrayed by Orlando Bloom – who unbeknown to him is the son of a Knight. “Convinced” to join the Crusades to escape justice after killing the local Priest, who we later learn, is his brother. Unfortunately his father dies en route at Messina in Sicily from wounds sustained preventing the arrest of his son. Cast as a sullen person either due to the script writer’s lack of character portrayal ability or due to casting him as being initially distraught due to the death of his wife & child or alternatively being out of his depth in a strange new land with strange new values.
Neither side in the conflict proved to be saints. Both had their rogues & miscreants. The Leper King & Balian were saints but the Templars’ Raymond de Chatillon & Guy de Lusignan & the fickle Sibylla [Eva Green] certainly were not. After what is probably a gratuitous love scene between Balian & Sibylla, the wife of Guy, she calmly announces that their tryst was not adultery as they did not play by the same rules as the others. Maybe a throw-away line but it is nevertheless indicative of the hypocritical stance of many of the Crusaders & Muslims.
In contrast, Balian’s almost naïve beliefs about the righteous morally correct actions despite being non-religious, contrasts with the immoral sly, deceptive, underhand ways of the Templars Guy & Raymond. What an irony! Both Guy & Raymond manipulate situations in order to goad the Leper King to abandon his fair & equitable approach to the Muslims by allowing them to worship in Jerusalem.
For a lover of Period Epics, this is surely one to watch. I contend that it will probably be the best movie on the Crusades for decades to come. Ridley Scott has produced a winner.