Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven

“Be without fear in the face of your enemies, be brave and upright that God may love thee, speak the truth always even if it leads to your death, safe guard the helpless and do no wrong.”

This is the oath Orlando Bloom’s character, Balian, takes when he becomes a knight in the film, the Kingdom of Heaven.

From time to time, the movie conveys the message that even when one is placed in a position where keeping his or her faith may lead to death, he or she must still hold firmly to faith – placing total trust in God. Yet, even with these overtones, the film still fails to say anything of the Gospel. Hence, we come away with the feeling that anyone can enter heaven on good deeds alone - not by the grace and sovereign power of God.

The story focus on a blacksmith named Balian (Orlando Bloom), who has just lost his wife after she commits suicide when their child dies during birth. He believes that God has abandoned him, and has left him to live a miserable life. All begins to change when Lord Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), who turns out to be Balian’s long-lost father, invites him on a Crusade to Jerusalem. Lord Godfrey tells the young Balian that they will find forgiveness for their sins in retaking the Holy Land. Together, the two begin their quest towards the Jerusalem. Whereupon, they are ambushed and Lord Godfrey is fatally wounded. With his life slipping away, Lord Godfrey passes his title, wealth, and the command of his entire army to Balian.

When Balian arrives in the Holy City, he finds himself caught in the middle of a vicious power-struggle between the city’s leprosy-stricken king (Edward Norton) and the fanatical Knights of the Templar, led by Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas). While the king believes that Jerusalem should be a city where all are welcomed to come and worship, de Lusignan believes that the city should be exclusively under Christian control, and that all non-believing pagans should be put to the sword.

The conflict eventually threatens the survival of all involved, as an army of 200,000 Muslim soldiers led by the Sultan Saladin - Syrian film director, Ghassan Massoud – descends upon the city. In the end, the task of defending Jerusalem and rallying its defenders is entrusted to Balian.

The movie, though abundant in Christian allegories and symbols, contradicts the life of being a good Christian. Instead of preaching forgiveness, the movie promotes the idea that self-righteous acts achieved with the sword can somehow wash away sin.

It is clear that the film’s director Ridley Scott, who also directed the film Gladiator, created a film that shows more concern for being politically correct. Though it may be a visual masterpiece, the film still lacks an overall Christian message.