Yesterday I watched Kingdom of Heaven (2005) because I had three hours of available screen time to kill.
This was one of the first movies to Blu-Ray and I think it first came out at a time when I was not high on Ridley Scott despite enjoying Gladiator. I’ll admit, I’m odd when it comes to sci-fi fans that Alien and Blade Runner were movies I did not enjoy so much when I finally got around to seeing them in the early 2000’s. I think a lot of it was that the dark lighting in those films did not translate well to VHS so they felt like they were being seen through a layer of mud. I’m not the biggest horror person so Alien didn’t resonate with me, and the quickly outdated boxy computer interfaces in the movie made it feel like it was a relic from another time and not a look into the future. I don’t know what my excuse for not enjoying Blade Runner is, I think a lot of it has to do with the numerous cuts of the film and even more has to do with poor VHS quality.
I don’t remember first seeing Kingdom of Heaven and I had forgotten a whole lot of it. This movie also runs into issues of numerous cuts, although I think blu-ray has made the director’s cut the definitive cut of the movie. The director’s cut it LONG. It’s just under three hours long, 45 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. It’s hard to slog through the start of the movie, dark blue tones brutal cold medieval life in France. Liam Neeson’s character notes some of the struggles of the time: “I once fought two days with an arrow through my testicle.”
Once the film makes it to the middle east the color tone brightens up and details come alive. This viewing was not easy to follow the plot and all of the characters as I had a few things going on around the apartment but the visuals of the battles, the massive scale of the people in the battles (however they are represented whether it’s digital or a ton of extras or optical illusions) and the incredible details that fill the screen make this movie worth another viewing. That other viewing may come sooner than later for me as an excuse to better piece together the plot.
There are so many little details in this movie that are so wonderful like showing the process of a siege engine and castle defenses down to excessive use of burning oil dropping on enemy knights and the touch of showing thousands of birds flocking to scavenge a battle field after massive casualties. It truly would be a terrible time to be alive, and even more terrible time to die.
Around this time I started to change my tune on Ridley Scott’s films, I think I was softened up by the great run of movies his brother Tony Scott. The styles of the two brothers seemed to greatly influence each other, it was really a tragedy that Tony Scott passed. It’s very curious what happened to him, it seems that he was on two medications that have side effects of suicidal tendencies. His family said he had been going through treatment for cancer in the years before his death but the coroner’s report didn’t mention any medical conditions affecting him at the time of his death. Luckily we do have the great films he did make like Spy Game, Enemy of the State, and Unstoppable and the great influence he had on his brother Ridley.