Kingdom of Heaven : Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films

Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films

but this one goes so wrong in so many places. For example, the ridiculousness (and needless inclusion) of the shipwreck where Bailian is the lone survivor. Well, except for the ultra-convenient black stallion. Neither of them even has a scratch yet everyone else is dead. Come on, that is just stupid!

Another example, is where Bailian, who had about fifteen minutes of fighting instruction from Liam Neeson, defeats three knights with a couple of handy rocks. Sure. What da fook! How did he become some super bad-ass fighter? It's like they took his Legolas character from LoTRs.

Ultimately very little of it hangs together and it is difficult to care for any of the characters. Or the battle scenes. Such a shame. Waste of huge battle scenes with a lot going on and great sets. But it's just not gripping or that interesting.


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Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films

Actually the shipwreck episode is not so much stupid, as wildly out of place. It's an example of a perfectly respectable folk-tale/fairy-tale trope at least four millennia old. (An ancient Egyptian version survives on papyrus - see here if you're interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tale_of_the_Shipwrecked_Sailor). I'm sure that if you encountered such an episode in the Arabian Nights (e.g. Sinbad the Sailor), the Odyssey, the Tales of Mother Goose, or any folk-tale context, you'd accept it without blinking. It just doesn't belong in an allegedly realistic epic.

What happened here, by Scott's own account, is that he was remembering the 'medieval' movies of his youth (such as The Black Knight starring Alan Ladd - you've only got to check out the synopsis of that to see how much Scott was channelling that) with their simple moral values, and wanted to make a moral fairytale about knighthood and chivalry for today's youth. Then he ran into Bill Monahan who wanted to make a realistic epic about the Leper King of Jerusalem and the Battle of Hattin, harking back to his memories of reading of Runciman's history in his youth, and they thought they could bring these two objectives together into a single story. But it just doesn't work; the moralising and the numerous fairytale tropes smushed into the historical setting (plus Scott's deep prejudice against medieval Christian belief) simply don't gel.

NB: if like me you're into folk and fairy tales, you'll see that the whole relationship of Balian and Imad is another fairy-tale trope. Realistically, Imad's actions in the desert make no sense at all. (Why is he wandering around the desert coast of the Crusader kingdom with just one servant anyway? Why does he pretend his servant is his master? If he's supposed to be such a Good Person, why does he want to steal an unfortunate shipwrecked stranger's horse and send his servant to kill him when he refuses?) They're just a clumsy way to introduce the classic trope 'setting out alone into the wide world, the virtuous hero extends help and/or mercy to an apparently insignificant creature, who later on in the story will turn out to have the power to help him in return for his generosity'.

Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films


What happened here, by Scott's own account, is that he was remembering the 'medieval' movies of his youth (such as The Black Knight starring Alan Ladd - you've only got to check out the synopsis of that to see how much Scott was channelling that) with their simple moral values, and wanted to make a moral fairytale about knighthood and chivalry for today's youth. Then he ran into Bill Monahan who wanted to make a realistic epic about the Leper King of Jerusalem and the Battle of Hattin, harking back to his memories of reading of Runciman's history in his youth, and they thought they could bring these two objectives together into a single story. But it just doesn't work.
Yes. There are huge problems with it. As you say, fairytale logic collides with anything approaching naturalistic narrative. Another problem is that Runciman's 1950s romantic and highly fictionalised historiography had been largely overturned by the time of filming, by decades more research. I find it staggering that they could make a film in which Baldwin IV has a major role and completely ignore Hamilton's major biography of him, published in 2000...

"Active but Odd"

Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films

syntinen, I have to admit that I did not approach the story as a fairy-tale type of movie/adventure. Is that what Scott intended?

Have to agree with Silverwhistle in that IF Ridley Scott was aiming for fair-tale he missed. And that the two, Fairy-tale vs realistic style just don't mix well in this movie.

Overall, I think I would've enjoyed the story much more if it was posed as more of a romantic/fairy-tale adventure. Hopefully it would be a lot less 'talky' if that was the case.


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Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films


Is that what Scott intended?


I wouldn't say that he was consciously trying to make a fairy tale, necessarily; but at some level he must have wanted to. His recent efforts (e.g. Robin Hood) have been so woolly and self-indulgent I doubt he could analyse himself what he was trying to do. He certainly was consciously hearkening back to his childhood, and trying to promote the moral values he feels he was taught. See for example this interview: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2005/apr/29/1.

Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films


I wouldn't say that he was consciously trying to make a fairy tale, necessarily; but at some level he must have wanted to.
I think, unfortunately, that "fairy tale" seems to be the mainstream movie-industry default for anything set in the Middle Ages: there's a reluctance to grapple with the reality, or to engage with what historians have been doing. The past seems to be filtered permanently through a layer of "fairy tale" and Victorian chivalric revival.

"Active but Odd"

Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films


Another example, is where Bailian, who had about fifteen minutes of fighting instruction from Liam Neeson, defeats three knights with a couple of handy rocks.


Bailian explains that he was a man-at-arms during the movie; his father knights him, but it is not implied that he actually trained him to any degree, except to 'never take a low guard'.

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Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films

So he's been a black smith, an engineer and a soldier all before the age of 30. He really is a jack of all trades.

Re: Normally love Ridley Scott and Historical films

- Which, of course, is a phenomenon that could not legally exist in medieval Europe (and the saying - which hardly anyone today realises is derogatory - post-dates the breakdown of the guild system.

In the DC we learn that he's a silversmith as well, presumably because Scott couldn't bear for his self-insert not to be artistic as well!
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