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Film / Kingdom of Heaven

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The Box Office le veult! note 

Balian: What is Jerusalem worth?
Saladin: Nothing. [beat] Everything.

Kingdom of Heaven is a 2005 epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Ghassan Massoud, Liam Neeson, and Edward Norton. It is loosely based on the history of Balian of Ibelin right before the Third Crusade.

Set in the 12th century, the protagonist is a tormented blacksmith grieving after his wife's suicide. A baron from the Holy Lands rides by and asks him to go there with him. He says no. Then, after being antagonized by a local priest whilst in the depths of his misery, he lashes out in rage and kills him, leaving him with the options of staying to face charges, or joining the baron to live in relative freedom. Balian doesn't know yet that his destiny will lead him at the heart of a devastating conflict fuelled by politics and religion, with Jerusalem at stake.

The movie has three versions: the original theatrical version, the Director's Cut, and the Director's Cut Roadshow (the Director's Cut with an overture and an intermission).

Kingdom of Heaven provides examples of:

  • 24-Hour Armor: Knights are sometimes seen in armor when milling around Jerusalem. Guy even wears mail to a formal dinner.
  • The Ace: Balian is a blacksmith by trade as well as an architect, a civil engineer, a soldier, and a master of siege warfare. He's also literate and speaks Latin.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Balian kills a Saracen cavalier but lets what he thinks is the man's servant go, even though he could have killed him or taken him prisoner instead. The "servant" is later revealed to be Saladin's right-hand man. It works out pretty well for Balian.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: When King Baldwin arrives at Kerak to punish Reynald de Chatillon for his raiding of Saracen caravans, Reynald immediately assumes a fawning, begging posture (though his face betrays a mocking, sarcastic expression). When Baldwin demands that Reynald give him "The Kiss of Peace" on his leprous, sore-ridden hand, Reynald grabs it without a moment's hesitation and gives it a sloppy kiss. Baldwin responds by smacking the crap out of him with a riding crop before condemning him to be executed.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Forged iron horseshoes, like those Balian makes, weren't popular in France until the next century, and they weren't extensively used until much later.
    • The film shows Frankish archers using longbows, which again wouldn't be used until the next century and initially only in the British Isles.
    • Islamic countries' flags didn't sport a half moon until the 15th century. The ones from the period in which the film is set would have been plain green, black or white.
  • Angel Unaware: The Hospitaller is implied to be this — he has a knack for disappearing into thin air, and at one point he appears out of nowhere to revive an apparently dying Balian with a touch. He apparently has a physical body, though — we see his severed head later on.
  • Annoying Arrows:
    • Subverted when Balian's father Godfrey is wounded by an arrow in the side. He shrugs off the wound, but later dies of blood poisoning.
    • Odo is able to fight on competently with a crossbow quarrel through his neck, but dies shortly after.
    • Played more straight with this:
      Godfrey: I once fought two days with an arrow through my testicle.
  • Arc Words: 'Rise a Knight'; 'He's a murderer' [response] 'So am I'; 'What is Jerusalem worth?' All these phrases are used throughout the film in various contexts.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Guy looks down on Balian for his blacksmith background a couple of times throughout the film.
  • Armor Is Useless: There are a few instances of swords and armor punching and slashing right through armor, such as when the Moor in Godfrey's service goes down to an arrow right to his back plate. However, we do see a sword slash deflected by Balian's mail, though even then the slash leaves a nasty cut despite the fact that the mail visibly did not get penetrated.
  • Armour-Piercing Question:
  • Arranged Marriage: The reason Sibylla is married to Guy in the first place. Plus he's her second husband note , and her first marriage was presumably also arranged.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Destroying the wall of Jerusalem solely by trebouchet shots as seen in the film would have been almost impossible, not without a lot of sapping work.
  • Artistic License – Geography: According to the film, Saladin crosses the Jordan river on the way to attack Kerak, which doesn't make any sense because in real life Kerak is located east from the river. If anything, it would have been Balian (and later Baldwin's army) who needed to cross it to reach the fortress.
  • Artistic License – History: Has its own page.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: While amusing, Godfrey's claims to have fought for three days with an arrow lodged in a testicle would be impossible in real life. Aside from begging the question of whether he really didn't have any time in all those three days to get it treated, having an arrow in your body for such a long time would have caused exactly the kind of sepsis that was the cause of death to many soldiers at the time and place.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • The film shows Muslims peforming Salat prayers in Sicily, only that they are doing it hilariously in the wrong direction, west instead of south-east. An adhan chant can be heard over the prayers, when in real life it is done to gather the believers before praying.
    • The Mullah wears a tunic with Quranic writing in its sleeves. Wearing holy scriptures in the clothing was considered blasphemous in Islam, and it was only allowed in flags.
    • Although this is more of a Translation Convention bit, the Patriarch of Jerusalem shouldn't have been referred as His Eminence, but His Beatitude.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The jerkass priest at the beginning note  gets stabbed and subsequently set on fire by Balian when Balian finds out the priest has looted a golden crucifix from the body of Balian's dead wife.
    • The Saracen cavalier who attacks Balian over his horse when Balian was lost and exhausted, and didn't do anything to him. Although as it turns out, the "cavalier" was actually the servant of the landowner (they played it the other way around), who, despite his first interaction with Balian, turns out to be a very valuable ally later on.
    • Reynald as well. After spending the entire movie killing apparently for fun (although in one scene he shows signs of considering himself Necessarily Evil), it's a real pleasure to see him get his throat cut by Saladin.
  • The Atoner: Balian goes to Jerusalem to atone for his sins and the sins of his late wife.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: After Baldwin's death from leprosy (in the Director's Cut), Sybilla's son is crowned king of Jerusalem.
  • Ax-Crazy: Guy and Reynald have gleeful expressions while slaughtering defenseless caravans.
  • Badass Preacher: The Hospitaller, played by David Thewlis. The order of the Hospitaller Knights were soldiers, priests and medics all in one.
  • Bald Head of Toughness: Almaric, Balian's right-hand warrior. Tough in the sense that he's one of the few characters to survive to the end of the film.
  • Battering Ram: Saladin's army tries using a battering ram against the doors of Jerusalem during the siege of the city, only for the ram and its crew to have flammable oil poured on them, with the expected result.
  • Beard of Evil: Reynald and Guy are the bad guys and both sport full beards.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Balian manages to keep the people and men under his command from being annihilated by the Saracens, and moves to France with Sybilla, the former queen of Jerusalem, as his wife but Richard the Lionheart starts another crusade that is doomed to fail, and as the ending text reminds us, the Holy Land remains a powder keg.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Siege of Jerusalem at the end, complete with thousands of troops, siege towers, trebuchets, ballistae, fire pots, and burning oil.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Cavalry Battle outside Kerak, twice. Balian and his knights hold back the Saracen cavalry long enough for the remaining peasants to get inside the castle, then after they're defeated, Baldwin arrives with the Jerusalem army and persuades Saladin to withdraw, rescuing Balian and his men in the process.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the extended version, the puppeteer that entertains child Baldwin V in his medical examination is actually speaking in modern, southern-accented Castilian Spanish. Translated to English, he says jokingly, "Ey! You laughed early, didn't you?", and after some funny noises he says "Now I'm going here, now I'm going there!" while moving the puppet around.
  • Bitch Slap: Delivered after a knight takes their oath, so that they remember it.
  • The Blacksmith: Balian at the beginning, and how he chooses to live after the crusade.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Saladin and the Saracens are no more "evil" than Baldwin, Balian, Tiberias and the majority of Jerusalem's army. Most of them fight for much the same ideal, although it is not portrayed as morally or ethically right for either side. The Templars however, epitomized by their leaders Guy de Lusignan and Reynald de Chatillon, are morally bankrupt, bloodthirsty, warmongering monsters whose cruelty and depravity have no limits.
  • Black Vikings: Godfrey de Ibelin leads a rather diverse coalition of Crusaders, one of whom is black. It's supposed to indicate how so many different Christian cultures have been drawn to fight for the Holy Land. Historically speaking, the Crusaders were European Catholics from Germany, France and England. However, it isn't completely implausible since there did exist Orthodox Christian kingdoms in Africa such as Ethiopia and Makroda (located in present-day Sudan and Egypt).
  • Black-and-White Morality: An in-universe variation in that Balian thinks this way — things are either right or they're wrong, and he must do only what's right. It doesn't exactly work out very well.
  • Bling of War:
    • Baldwin dons a much more ornate and detailed mask when he rides out to parlay with Saladin.
    • Guy sometimes wears gilded chainmail.
    • Saladin's scale armor and golden helmet.
  • Blunt "Yes": Before the Siege of Jerusalem, Balian quickly knights all the men-at-arms within the walls of the city, upsetting the Patriarch.
    Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem: Who do you think you are? Will you alter the world? Does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?
    Balian: Yes.
  • Body Horror: King Baldwin's leprosy is only shown in a few scenes with two that stand out quite well: Him forcing Reynald to kiss his rotting hand and Sibylla taking off his mask during his funeral.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends in the village that Balian lives in France, with a party of crusaders arriving and seeking him out. The first time, the crusaders are led by a lord, and Balian the blacksmith shows deference and avoids making eye contact. The second time, the crusaders are led by a king — and Balian, insisting that he is no more than a blacksmith, looks the king in the eye, as an equal.
  • Break the Haughty: King Guy de Lusignan, after he is defeated by Saladin and paraded naked on a donkey. The director's cut reveals that it actually didn't work; Guy still tried to kill Balian, and was again defeated in a duel by Balian (who spares his life ).
  • Bullying a Dragon: Guy and Reynald constantly antagonize Saladin by slaughtering caravans, confident that their army cannot be beaten because it is a Christian army despite Saladin's overwhelming advantage in force. Their attacks and constant provoking eventually come to bite them in the ass.
    Guy: This caravan is armed, Reynald.
    Reynald: Good! No sport, otherwise.
  • Cain and Abel: Balian and his half-brother, the town priest. The former leads a fulfilling and productive life in the village while the latter envies him and has to resort to lying and manipulation to get ahead. A twist of the trope as Balian ultimately kills his brother after realizing the priest ordered the decapitation of his wife's body and stole her cross.
  • Casting Gag: At one point, Sibylla describes one of her rings as being from France and says she's never been there. She's played by a French actress.
  • Cherubic Choir: Much of the soundtrack is angelic Christian choir and mournful Arabic chanting.
  • Chess Motifs: King Baldwin's introductory scene has him use chess as a metaphor to explain the complexities of human existence. "The whole world is in chess. Any move can be the death of you. Do anything except remain where you started... and you can't be sure of your end."
  • Cool Helmet: The Hospitaller has a helmet with a fold-down nasal. Reynald's helmet is of a gilded and ormanemted Saracen style, implying he pilfered it during one of his many raids.
  • Cool Mask: King Baldwin is always seen in silver masks to hide his disfigurement. His daily mask is adorned with a Van Dyke, while his formal mask has elaborate scrolling.
  • Corrupt Church: Almost all members of the Catholic hierarchy are villains or jerks. The bishop of Jerusalem is repeatedly shown to be a hypocrite. The director's cut also featured a scene with a fairly sympathetic bishop who stated that "Much is done in Christendom of which Christ would be incapable," and reveals that the actions of the priest in France were all against explicit orders. The sole exception to the trope is the Hospitaller, who notably expresses a decidedly secular humanist philosophy.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle of Hattin pitts the army of Jerusalem against the Saracens. The Christian troops are force-marched by Guy de Lusignan in the scorching desert away from water for several days to fight the Saracens. Saladin's army rolls right over them with barely any losses while on their way to retake Jerusalem. (Truth in Television — the real Battle of Hattin suffered from the same flaws and went similarly poorly for the Christians.)
  • Death Glare: Guy de Lusignan gives Balian an absolutely venomous one after Kerak.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Balian is in this at the beginning, due to the death of his wife and stillborn child. By the end of the film, however, things look much brighter for him.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Balian demonstrates how easy it is to accidentally set off a Creosote Bush so that it burns for a long time without being consumed, thus giving a natural explanation for Moses' burning bush. Ironically, this is the same scene which heavily implies that the man he's speaking to is an Angel Unaware.
  • Double Meaning: In the ending, where King Richard speaks to Balian, looking for the man who defended Jerusalem to join his new crusade, Belian replies simply, "I am the blacksmith." To which Richard replies, "And I am the King of England." On the one hand, he is literally identifying himself as the English monarch, which is true; on the other, calling oneself the King of England is a modern day sarcastic response to someone's Blatant Lies, or when they categorically refuse to believe what the other person is saying, which in this context is also true.
  • Deathly Unmasking: When Sibylla takes off her brother's mask after he dies.
  • Driven to Suicide: Balian's wife hung herself out of grief at their child being stillborn.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • Godfrey's companion Odo uses a sword in one hand and an axe in the other.
    • The English Sergeant uses a warhammer in one hand and a short sword in the other.
    • Guy wields his sword in one hand and a dagger in the other in his duel with Balian.
  • Due to the Dead: Balian's wife is denied Christian burial as a suicide. She's buried at the crossroads and beheaded. Truth in Television for the time.
  • Dull Surprise: Orlando Bloom as Balian is in a state of depression during the first act of the film and plays almost every scene with an expression best described as "grim stoicism." He emotes more once he leaves his village.
  • Eastward Endeavor: Balian travels from France to Jerusalem with his father, Godfrey to get absolution from his sins. Although Godfrey dies before reaching Jerusalem, the time he spent with Balian on their journey gives him catharsis.
  • Easy Logistics:
    • Defied in Saladin's dialogue:
      Saladin: The results of battles are determined by God, but also by preparation, numbers, the absence of disease, and the availability of water. One cannot maintain a siege with the enemy behind. How many battles did God win for the Muslims before I came — that is, before God determined that I should come?
      Mullah: Few enough. That's because we were sinful.
      Saladin: It is because you were unprepared.
    • Guy believes in this trope, getting the Army of Jerusalem slaughtered to the last man.
    • No one says anything about the logistics of the entire surviving population of Jerusalem getting through the desert, onto boats, sailing to a safe harbor, and then surviving there. Balian simply appears in the next scene in France.
  • Entitled Bastard: Reynald de Chatillon genuinely thinks he is free from any consequences of his raiding and warmongering by virtue of his title alone. He even stands tall, looking smug and cheerful while at the complete mercy of Saladin, whose sister Reynald himself had brutally raped and murdered.
  • Epic Movie: Cast of thousands, enormous siege, Crusader epic...and to top it all off, the Director's Cut has an Overture and Intermission!
  • Evil Redhead: Reynald de Chatillon is the only redheaded character and a thoroughly despicable man who loves rape and slaughter. His beard and locks even look an unnatural shade of red, almost as if they were soaked in blood.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: After all the cruelty Reynald inflicts upon the Saracens (including the rape and murder of Saladin's sister), he is finally captured after the battle of Hattin and stands smugly before the Saracen king with no sign of remorse or humility. Despite being offered a blade, Saladin whips out his personal dagger to slash open Reynald's throat, before executing him properly with a scimitar and cutting his head off completely while his men hold Reynald down.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Balian and his men were fully prepared to do this during the initial Saracen attack on the civilians at Kerak, and later during the siege of Jerusalem.
    • Godfrey faces his end with the courage and dignity expected of a renowned knight.
    • The Hospitaller (David Thewlis character) rides off with Guy because "his writ is with the army" knowing full well that it's a suicide mission. He smiles as he bids farewell to Balian and promises he'll tell Godfrey that his son has become a great knight.
    • Of all the people, this is how Reynald de Chatillon, arguably the most despicable characters of the movie, meets his end. When he is brought before Saladin, after having been taken prisoner during the disastrous battle of Hattin, he initially shows his usual arrogance and scorn, guzzling a cup of fresh water that Saladin has given to Guy. But when Saladin pointedly tells him that he never intended to give the cup to himnote , he says that he knows that with a quiet and almost sad expression on his face, implicitly acknowledging that Saladin intends to kill him and that he accepts his doom.
      Reynald: I drink water for what it is.
      Saladin: I did not give the cup to you.
      Reynald: No.
  • The Faceless: A good guy, King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. His face is concealed in every scene until after his death, when his sister removes his mask — and then quickly replaces it, when she sees what lies beneath.
  • Faceless Mooks: Guy sends three knights to kill Balian who wear helmets that completely encase their heads. They're dispatched fairly easily.
  • Fat Bastard: Reynald is an utter Jerkass and also happens to be one of the only overweight characters. Given the way he wolfs down a roast chicken offered by Guy after being starved in a prison cell, he is probably a Big Eater too, having lived in luxury at Kerak, compared with all the other knights, good and bad, who are lean and mean.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Reynald de Chatillion (the leader of the Templars) is always polite, even with a bloody sword in his hand, which doesn't keep him from being both a Jerkass and The Fundamentalist.
  • Feel No Pain: King Baldwin IV notes to Balian, in the former's introduction scene, that the fact that he demonstrated this as a child was the first sign that he had leprosy. This tragically happens with his nephew (Director's Cut only) as well, for the same reasons.
  • Fisher King: Baldwin IV. The kingdom of Jerusalem did not outlast his death, although this is due to the ineptitude of his successor, Guy de Lusignan, who provokes war with the Saracens and couldn't effectively direct Jerusalem's army if his life depended on it.
  • Freakier Than Fiction: Reynald de Chatillon's barbarism and exploits were actually toned down for the movie.
  • Friendly Enemy: Balian and Imad become friendly after Balian spares Imad's life, and Imad returns the favor.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Templars and the Patriarch (until he loses his nerve) on the Crusader side, the unnamed mullah advising Saladin on the Muslim side.
  • General Failure: Guy de Lusignan is a skilled swordsman, competent in battle and probably has some knowledge of tactics. But when he is given command of an entire army, his only strategy is to force march his troops for days away from water in the scorching desert in order to Attack! Attack! Attack! the Saracen forces. Predictably, his army is utterly wiped out in the first battle.
  • God in Human Form: Word of God (in the screenwriter's commentary) identifies the Hospitaller as this, during the "burning bush" scene.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: The aristocrats on both sides of the war wear very elaborate costumes and armor.
  • Grapes of Luxury: Sibylla flirtatiously feeds Balian a pomegranate seed in a move dripping with mythical and Biblical symbolism on top of simple luxury.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Reynald bisects a Saracen when he attacks the caravan.
  • Heir-In-Law: In a variant, Guy, Baldwin's brother-in-law, succeeds him as King of Jerusalem.
  • Heroic Bastard: Balian, in contrast with the real man being somewhat less heroic, plus legitimate and a nobleman.
  • Here We Go Again!: The end of the film sees Balian return to his quiet life as a blacksmith in France with Sibylla by his side. Several English soldiers, led by English King Richard I, pass through the village and try to recruit Balian for a new Crusade. He passes on the offer and the crusaders continue on their way. While Balian has found peace, the Holy Land will continue to be a hotbed of conflict between Christians and Muslims.
  • Hero of Another Story: Godfrey went from being a minor French lord to a Baron in the Holy Land, gathering such a reputation that his son's mere existence merits an audience with kings. He also somehow gathers a party including a towering German, a Hospitaller Knight, an English soldier, and a Moor. All we ever hear of how he achieved this is that he almost killed Saladin in Damascus, and that he "once fought two days with an arrow through [his] testicle".
  • Historical Domain Character: To be expected from a movie set during the Third Crusade. Aside from the protagonist Balian who is loosely based on a real person, most of the cast are historical figures from the renowned Richard the Lionheart and Saladin to lesser-known participants of the Crusades such as Sibylla of Jerusalem and Guy de Lusignan.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Balian, as the movie's main character, was made to give the film's aesop right before the final battle, which was basically, "Jerusalem belongs to everyone! Why can't we all just get along?" Needless to say this was put on for modern audiences, and nobody, on either side, would've been caught dead saying anything like that during the actual crusades. Even in the film the Patriarch is scandalized and says it's blasphemy, though no-one else objects, quickly hushing him.
    • Also, like most of the other characters, the historical Balian of Ibelin wasn't above political maneuvering for power (also, he wasn't a bastard boy whose father happened to be important, but rather a prominent nobleman of the time and part of one of the most important families in the Kingdom of Jerusalem). That said, Balian and the Ibelins were one of the more moderate factions in the Kingdom, and along with Saladin and Patriarch Heraclius used a sizable amount of his personal fortune to pay the ransom for many of the citizens of Jerusalem after surrendering it to Saladin. Balian would also go on to mediate the peace accord between Richard and Saladin to end the Third Crusade.
    • The historical Sybilla was actually part of the extremist camp within the Haute Cour, while the film places her squarely on the moderate side. The moderates, such as the Ibelins, attempted to blunt the ambitions of Lusignan and his supporters by refusing to allow her to take the throne after the death of her son (Baldwin V) unless she first divorced him. As a concession they allowed her to marry any man of her choosing afterwards, but unfortunately neglected to add "Except Lusignan," who she then turned around and picked as her consort. Not because she was in desperate need of his military support as the film depicts, but entirely because of her devotion to him, and because she sided with him and the other extremists politically.
    • Saladin himself is another example. The film depicts him allowing all of Jerusalem's Christians to leave with their lives after Balian has threatened to destroy all of the holy places in Jerusalem. In reality, he only allowed the nobles to leave free of charge, forcing Balian to ransom the poor for 30,000 bezants. Those that Balian could not ransom were sold into slavery. (To his credit however, Saladin freed all of the elderly, and his brother freed another 3000 people.) There's also the fact that he had all of the Templars taken prisoner at Hattin beheaded in cold blood after the battle.
  • Historical Relationship Overhaul:
    • The historical Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem was actually a close ally to Balian and his family and a selfless defender of the city, not an Obstructive Bureaucrat as portrayed in the film. He even absolved him for breaking his oath to Saladin, saying the needs of the city were more important than an oath made to a Muslim, and paid a lot of the city's defenders (and later ransoms) with his own money, even stripping the gold and silver from the Holy Sepulchre to raise the money.
    • While her marriage was arranged, Sybilla and Guy actually loved each other in real life, and Balian was her political enemy.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: A minor version happens to Reynald. While he's still a pretty horrible human being, the film sets him up as one of Guy's henchmen, and Guy is ultimately behind most of the horrible things Reynald does. In real life, it was Reynald making the decisions and Guy just not having the confidence to stand firm against him (see Guy's entry under Historical Villain Upgrade).
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Played Straight with the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is based on Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem. According to historical texts, he had something of a bad reputation, but this must be taken with a grain of salt as this information comes from his rival for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and so is almost definitely biased.For Details  In the film, he is depicted as a bigoted, self-centered, and cowardly Smug Snake. Historically, while he may have been a tad bit corrupt (but then again, who wasn't in those days?), he was actually quite selfless. He stripped the silver and gold from the Church of The Holy Sepulchre to pay the city's defenders, knowing it would likely get him in big trouble. He was also active in the defense of Jerusalem, whereas in the film he tried to urge Balian to help him flee. And when Jerusalem finally fell, not only did he pay for the freedom of many of the common people out of his own pocket, but he was even the one to advise Balian to seek terms instead of fight to the death.
    • In the movie, Guy de Lusignan is an utter bastard who would do anything for power and who thought the idea of a War for Fun and Profit was a great idea. Historically, while he may have been ambitious, he was no more so than the next noble, and his decision to go to war was less a matter of Ax Craziness and more a matter of "Saladin's already attacking; we need to do something about it." While he was a bad king, it was not because he was nuts and evil, but because he was incompetent: he could listen to reason, and he even did so when Tiberius cautioned him to stay near a source of water and let Saladin come to him, but he allowed himself to be swayed by the over-zealous elements among the nobles and made the decision to march across the desert, exhausting his army and causing its downfall. He was also much better to his wife than in the film: historically, he treated her well enough that when she was given the chance to keep the throne and choose any husband for herself and make him King, she went right back to Guy.
    • The Knights Templar were not any worse than any of the other soldiers that fought in the Crusades, quite the opposite. They were admired (and later, during their persecution in Europe, blamed) for being tolerant of Muslims and cultivating relationships with the Arab world, yet the film goes to a few lengths to demonize them.
  • Hold the Line: Balian leads his cavalry against the Saracen vanguard at Kerak to allow the villagers time to get inside the castle walls.
  • Holy City: The Holy City, Jerusalem, is the setting for much of the film, and the entire point of the plot is that different religions go to war with each other over it. The downer closing credits remind us that that was not only happening in the 1100's, but still today.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Deconstructed — characters who advocate a simple outlook on battle are criticized and easily defeated:
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • The Hospitaller's explanation for his going to battle. "You go to certain death!" - "All death is certain."
    • Balian gave up a chance to marry his love interest, become leader of the army, and so in effect defeat the evil Guy de Lusignan and stop the war from occurring. However since the only way to bring this about would be a coup that's just "not honorable" according to Balian's limited world view, he doesn't take the offer and so the rest of the movie is constant warfare bringing about the suffering of everybody. Nice job.
    • The expectation of nobles is that you go all out to brutally kill each other, dirty fighting and ambushing included, right until someone is captured, at which point they get hospitality and ransom. Godfrey of Ibelin and Saladin have their limits with this.
    • What little bit of honor Guy possesses compels him to challenge Balian to a revenge duel instead of literally backstabbing him.
  • I Am the Noun:
    • Used by King Baldwin as a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
      King Baldwin: I am Jerusalem. [removes gauntlet and extends his leprous hand] And you, Reynald, will give me the kiss of peace.
    • The same line is later used as an Ironic Echo by Guy after he becomes king. Though Baldwin was able to use it and make himself sound like a badass, with Guy it reflects his deteriorating mental state.
    • When Guy is whipping up the army to go fight Saladin, he starts to say a variation on this as well, only to finish in a very subdued and taken aback tone when he sees Balian, who he had tried to have assassinated, walking towards him.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Tiberias puts it very eloquently towards the bloodthirsty Guy de Lusignan.
    Tiberias: That I would rather live with men than kill them is certainly why you are alive.
  • Implausible Deniability: Reynald flatly denies his own warmongering, despite it being common knowledge that he is responsible.
    Reynald: Who says I raid!?
    Tiberias: That witness, all of Jerusalem, Holy God, and me.
    Reynald: That "witness", if you call him that, is a Saracen! He lies!
    Tiberias: There will come a time, Reynald when you will not be protected by your title!
    Reynald: Oh? When will that be? Alert me, Tiberias, when men are equal and the kingdom of heaven has arrived.
    Tiberias: Those Templars have been hung for a raid that I know you commanded!
    Reynald: Prove it. I will wait at Kerak until you do.
    Tiberias: The king will take your castle of Kerak, Reynald.
    Reynald: Try to take it, Tiberias. I'll be there.
  • Instant Expert: In the theatrical cut, Balian is just a simple blacksmith who somehow picks up sword fighting and siege tactics instantly. In the Director's Cut, it's explained that he fought in a previous war, which is presumably where he learned most of it. Even in this version, however, it's implied that he's not a particularly good swordsman until he receives about ten minutes of instruction from Godfrey and company, after which he's undefeated in every single engagement.
  • I Owe You My Life: At their first hostile encounter in the desert, Balian kills Imad's servant and has Imad at his mercy but spares his life. Imad notes to Balian that this could justify Imad being Balian's servant, but Balian does not accept it. Imad later returns the favor.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "God wills it!" Used by both Christians and Muslims to justify their actions.
    • In explaining why he won't go along with Baldwin's plan to get rid of Guy, Balian quotes Baldwin's own words back at him. Despite the situation, Baldwin can't help but be a little amused.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: When Guy de Lusignan sees Balian sitting at dinner with other noted officials like Sibylla and Tiberias, he refers to Balian as "this".
  • It's Up to You: There are only three knights left in the city, hence it falls to Balian to organize the defense of Jerusalem.
  • Jerkass:
    • The Priest at the beginning, who steals money meant for Balian, has his wife's corpse mutilated against the Bishop's orders, and then taunts Balian into killing him.
    • Aside from being a bloodthirsty fundamentalist who loves mass slaughter, Guy de Lusignan is an unpleasant man who refuses to be in the same room as those who disagree with him.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: In the extended cut, Sibylla kills her son after discovering that he suffers from leprosy..
  • Killed Offscreen: The English Sergeant, who briefly serves as Balian's primary companion after Godfrey dies, is himself presumably killed in the ship wreck that takes Balian to the Holy Land. His character simply vanished after the ship sinks.
  • Knighting: Balian is knighted by Godfrey before he passes. When the bishop complains that there are no knights in Jerusalem to defend the city, Balian knights every soldier in the city. This is loosely based on the fact that Balian speed-knighted select citizens of Jerusalem.
    Godfrey: 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. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Due to being The Atoner, Balian adopts a flawlessly moral outlook and fights to protect the helpless. He's repeatedly referred (sometimes bitterly) as "the perfect knight."
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Tiberias. A good guy, but rendered deeply cynical by years of politics and treachery, to the point that, when the final battle looms, he simply leaves.
  • Knight Templar: Reynald, Guy, and company are Christian zealots who welcome a battle against an overwhelming Muslim army because of their blind faith in their own righteousness.
  • Large Ham: Brendan Gleeson has quite a few hammy moments of his own as Reynald. Especially the scene of him marching around his prison cell screaming his name at the top of his lungs. Marton Csokas, who played Guy de Lusignan, also seems to revel in his character's evilness.
  • Light Is Not Good / Dark Is Not Evil: The Jerkass Fundamentalist Templars wear white tabards with red crosses, whilst the more moderate and tolerant Hospitallers wear black tabards with grey crosses. Wholly dramatised for the film to give it clearly defined villains.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Godfrey reveals himself to be Balian's father.
  • Magic Feather: The mass knighting. There is subtle screen evidence of this. Once Balian declares the men at arms to be knights, they all stand up a little straighter, raise their heads a little higher. It goes unsaid, but what Balian does is give them pride in themselves for the coming battle: they have something to fight for, other than fighting for someone else's reason.
    Patriarch: Will you alter the world!? Does... making a man a knight... make him a better fighter?
    Balian: Yes.
  • Meaningful Echo: Godfrey's knighting speech to Balian, and "Your quality will be known among your enemies, before ever you meet them." Also, Balian quotes back King Baldwin's chess speech.
  • Mercy Kill: In the director's cut, Sybilla chooses to euthanize her son, as he has just been diagnosed with leprosy.
  • Mighty Whitey: Due to Balian being The Ace, he can come across a little like this after arriving in Jerusalem. Some audiences balked that he teaches desert-dwelling peasants how to build an irrigation system, but he's using his previously established engineering skills to do so, something that most peasants wouldn't possess.
  • Modest Royalty: Unlike his generals, Saladin usually wears fully black robes as his garb of choice with no finery whatsoever. He only dons his very impressive battle armor when battle actually commences.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Balian has a number of shirtless scenes, including one humorous scene where his new servants demand that he emerge from his bath before giving him a towel.
  • Mysterious Veil: Sybilla adopts the local custom of wearing a veil—sometimes translucent, sometimes opaque—on the first two occasions when she rides out to meet with Balian.
  • Necessarily Evil: Reynald seems to think of himself this way. "I am what I am. Someone has to be."
  • Neck Snap: Odo uses one of these on a soldier by catching the soldier’s neck between Odo’s axe and sword and twisting.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The movie fared well in Europe and elsewhere, but did badly in the US. It's been theorized that this is because in the US the advertising campaign portrayed the movie primarily as a love story, rather than one of political, religious and military intrigue.
  • Nightmare Face: The leprous King of Jerusalem, with his mask off.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Balian is a skilled blacksmith, siege engineer and silversmith, and also an experienced soldier.
  • Noble Demon: Though it's indicated that Saladin and company endlessly look for a justification to attack Jerusalem, still, he draws the line at drawing first blood—and always tries his best to spare civilians.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: King Baldwin IV gives one of these to Reynald. Due to his leprosy, it winds up overexerting him and he collapses.
  • No Name Given:
    • Most members of Godfrey's Badass Crew go unnamed, including the "English Sergeant" and even the "Hospitaller," who has quite a lot of screen time.
    • The Patriarch of Jerusalem is also not named in the film.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Battle of Hattin is one of the most dramatic and often-studied battles of the Crusades (far more than the siege of Jerusalem), but all we see is the aftermath.
  • Off with His Head!: Reynald gets decapitated by Saladin.
  • Offing the Offspring: A Mercy Kill variant: Sibylla poisons her son to spare him the pain of leprosy.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Implied when Godfrey says he once fought for three days with an arrow through his testicle. The Hospitaller rolls his eyes, indicating he has heard Godfrey tell that story before more than once.
  • One-Woman Wail: The Arabic chanting portions of the soundtrack are usually a single, mournful voice.
  • The Place: Downplayed a bit. The movie's title refers to a Medieval era nickname for Jerusalem.
  • Pet the Dog: After Baldwin IV and Saladin come to terms, with the latter agreeing to withdraw his forces back across the Jordan and the former assuring him that Raynauld of Châtillon will be punished for his unauthorized raiding, Saladin promises to send Baldwin his physicians since he can tell making the journey with his army all the way out there to meet with him more than took it out of the guy.
  • Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Crusader armies during the truce.
    Hospitaller: These men are Templars... They killed Arabs.
    Balian: So they are being executed for what the Pope would have them do?
    Hospitaller: But not Christ, I think... Or this king.
  • Plot Armor: Balian manages to survive the ambush on Godfrey's party in spite of other, more experienced soldiers dying. He's also the sole survivor of a ship wreck. If one goes with the interpretation that the Hospitaller is an Angel Unaware it's justified by the implication that God himself has taken a personal interest in Balian, and may have a hand in his survival.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Salah-ad-Din's popularity was renewed through boomerang association from Western media and film, since Saladin was more famous in Europe for centuries than he was at home. Now, all sorts of people view him as an archetypal Muslim leader.
  • Politically Correct History: Despite it being a normal and unremarkable practice at the time, there are no slaves in the movie. Their existence is only mentioned once when Balian declines to make a slave of a captive Imad. Even in major battles captives are killed or ransomed rather than enslaved, and nobody mentions it as a possible fate for Jerusalem's civilians. The religious tolerance Balian invokes in his speech before the battle also is far beyond what occurred at the time (and the real Balian believed in).
  • Posthumous Character: Balian's wife has already committed suicide when the film begins. The first thing we see is her corpse.
  • Precautionary Corpse Disposal: There's a mundane example near the end of the film. It becomes necessary on the Christian side to cremate the bodies of people who died in the battle because they have no other way to get rid of the bodies, which will quickly become breeding grounds for disease.
  • Pretext for War: Saladin reveals in his private moments that he has to find one soon or he might be deposed by the Saracen princes who gave him his authority. Imad, his second in command, reassures him that the Christians will lose all restraint against raiding Muslim civilians once Baldwin is dead, and will give them the pretext they need. Reynald obliges by murdering Saladin's sister, which doesn't so much provide pretext as remove the need for it.
  • The Proud Elite: Guy de Lusignan and Reynald de Chatillon are the aristocrats of Jerusalem, and they won't let anyone forget it.
  • Rage Breaking Point: It's not actually rage, but more sadness. Balian's wife committed suicide after the death of their child during his birth, much to Balian's dismay. After her funeral, Balian's brother, who is a priest, comes up to him, tells him that he took the golden cross necklace from her body, and says that she's burning in Hell for committing suicide. Balian's sadness immediately turns to rage, and he stabs him with the red-hot sword he was forging, then dumps him into the fire, after which he burns to death.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: When Reynald approaches Saladin's sister, she tells him who she is, and he replies, almost sadly, "I know", before ripping the veil from her face. Then the scene cuts away. Because we have seen crusaders rape a Muslim woman moments before, and we hear afterwards that Saladin's sister is dead, we are led to believe that Reynald murdered and possibly raped her.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: While the real Balian, unsurprisingly, was not an upwardly-mobile blacksmith, this trope certainly applies by the sheer number of critics of the film who thought the whole tale was made up, and that the various characters did not exist! note  In fact, others have criticized the movie for not telling the real life version of events on the grounds that it is more interesting, unusual and dramatic than the plot we see in the film. The movie makes no mention or use of, for example, Reynald commanding a fleet of pirate ships that threatened to burn Mecca (infact a great deal of Reynald's recorded viciousness had to be toned down in the movie to maintain believability); or the prior relationship between Balian and Saladin when Balian was captured in the Battle of Hattin and then released on condition he would promise not to defend Jerusalem; but, upon seeing how how defenseless the city was, Balian sent a letter to Saladin and asked him to relieve him of his promise, to which Saladin complied. Also, many people did not believe that the Christian army actually crossed the desert thinking they could reach lake Tiberias and rest before fighting Saladin´s army which, in fact, was camped there waiting for them.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Baldwin IV, Tiberias and Saladin, who worked desperately to maintain the fragile peace. The Bishop in Balian's hometown seen in the Director's Cut would count as well — he insists that Balian and his wife are both blameless in her death, and checks to make sure that the priest did not have her body mutilated (he lies).
  • Re-Cut: The Director's Cut is a new cut that includes substantial additional scenes that were cut from the original release. Critical reception treated it almost as a new film.
  • Refusal of the Call: Balian's initial response to Godfey's offer to go with him to Jerusalem.
  • The Resenter: Balian's brother and priest at the beginning of the film. He resents the fact that Balian is not only well-liked by the local Bishop, but is also noble and kind-hearted while the brother is a selfish simpering toadie. He steals money meant for Balian, condemns his late wife to hell and steals her crucifix, and tries to get Balian to leave the town to go on the crusade so that he can finally be rid of him, but is stabbed and burned to death for his cruelty instead.
  • Rousing Speech: Balian's speech at the mass-knighting bolsters the courage of the defenders of Jerusalem. Before the knighting, the defenders of the wall (who are mostly peasant levies, with only a handful of men-at-arms and only three actual knights) look scared.
    The Patriarch of Jerusalem: (almost crying) "Who do you think you are? Will you alter the world? Does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?"
    (Balian looks around into the eyes of the newly made knights, all of whom are blazing with new confidence)
    Balian of Ibelin: "Yes."
  • Sacred Hospitality: Saladin offers ice water to Guy as a gesture symbolizing that he is being placed under his protection and will not be killed. However Guy then passes the cup to Reynald, who guzzles it. Saladin pointedly says, "I did not give the cup to you," and after a pause kills him.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Godfrey and his band of crusaders. They nearly all die to his nephew's goons in order to establish that this an age in history where life is cheap and the world is ruled mostly by men who are corrupt and will gleefully kill their own brothers for power.
  • Say My Name: Reynald repeatedly screams his own name while imprisoned, futily demanding the respect that his name should earn him.
  • Save the Villain: Balian refuses to support a plot to assassinate Guy, which screws up the good guys' plans.
  • Scenery Porn: Ridley Scott had an admitted fetish for fluttering flags in this film. Thousands of them.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Reynald de Chatillon and Guy de Lusignan think they're utterly above accountability for their horrible acts because they're men of noble birth who possess wealth and power.
    Tiberias: There will come a time, Reynald, when you will ''not'' be protected by your title!
    Reynald: Oh? When will that be? Alert me, Tiberias, when men are equal and the kingdom of heaven has arrived.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Tiberias and his knights retire to Cyprus after Guy's forces get annihilated.
  • Second Love: Sibylla becomes this to Balian.
  • Shields Are Useless: When the walls of Jerusalem are breached, Balian casts aside his shield and charges in.
  • The Siege: The climax of the movie, the siege of Jerusalem.
  • Siege Engines: Saladin's army brings a Battering Ram, ladders, trebuchets and siege towers to assault Jerusalem. The ram plan is quickly torched (so to speak) by Balian's forces using flammable oil, the ladder soldiers don't stand much chance on the ramparts (or against the flammable oil) and the siege towers are brought down using a clever contraption with ballista harpoons and counterweights. Saladin's success chances improve when he focuses his forces on the weak postern part of Jerusalem's walls, so much so that it's where Balian's forces make their Last Stand.
  • Silence, You Fool!: Tiberias, to a large crowd of Templars and his fellow Knights arguing.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: After Godfrey's party has beaten the men led by his nephew to capture Balian, the remaining survivor on his knees and at their mercy announces himself as the "Son of Roger Du-Cormier" as if the title is supposed to mean something, and receives a Blank Stare from everyone. He then nervously says that it means he is accorded the privilege of being ransomed to save himself from being executed on the spot. Godfrey agrees and then gives his men the nod to impale the prisoner through the skull with the pointy end of a warhammer.
  • Smug Snake: Guy de Luisignan is very impressed with his political machinations and is frequently seen smirking.
  • The Sociopath: Reynald slaughters innocent Muslim caravans with vigor, like it was part of his daily routine.
  • So Proud of You: Godfrey to his extramarital son Balian. In his last confession, he says he is sorry for all of his sins but one, looking at him.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Hospitaller pulls one off in the middle of the desert. After talking to Balian, he turns and starts walking into an open flat plain. Balian is distracted for a moment by a bush apparently spontaneously combusting, and when he turns back the Hospitaller has completely vanished. One of the hints that he's a Spirit Advisor.
  • Stock Scream: You can hear a Wilhelm scream during the siege when one of the attackers falls from a siege tower.
  • Suicidal Over Confidence: Guy de Lusignan and the rest of the Templars are certain they will claim victory in a war with the Saracens, by virtue of being a Christian army. They don't even bother with "trivialities" like tactics or basic logistics.
    • In an earlier secene, those same Templars actually imply that Tiberias is a blasphemer simply for suggesting that they should avoid war because victory is not guaranteed. (Fortunately for everyone in the army, at this point Baldwin is still alive and he agrees with Tiberias.)
  • The Stoic: The nicer interpretation of Orlando Bloom's performance as Balian.
  • Symbolic Blood: At one point during the climactic siege, shots of Balian hacking and slicing atop the walls are intercut with shots of oil being tossed onto the attackers.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • When Guy becomes king of Jerusalem, he rides out with the entire army to meet Saladin on a forced march away from water and the entire Christian army is on its last legs by the time they arrive to do battle, with historically accurate results.
    • Also, Balian's brother who, perhaps, assumed he didn't have it in him, but chose to mock his grieving brother while Balian was hard at work on a sword, around a very fiery forge.
  • Tough Leader Façade: Queen Sybilla.
    Sybilla: A woman in my place has two faces, one for the world and one which she wears in private. With you I'll be only Sybilla. Tiberias thinks me unpredictable; I am unpredictable.
  • Translation Convention: Most of the European characters should be speaking French, and the Muslims Arabic.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Guy de Lusignan becomes king of Jerusalem via his wife Sibylla, sister of King Baldwin, after Baldwin's death.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Before leaving for Cyprus after the battle of Hattin, Tiberias laments that the real reason the Christians came to the holy land was for land and wealth.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: When King Richard offers to recruit Balian for the next crusade, Balian politely turns him down with "I am the blacksmith." Richard accepts this.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Most of Godfrey's men get all of one scene together before being slaughtered en masse.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Balian refuses King Baldwin's offer to marry Sybilla because it would mean killing Guy, which he feels is unethical and unacceptable even though he hates Guy. Sybilla calls him out for this, accusing him to be self-righteous. Guy, allowed to live on, later starts a war against the Muslims which kills thousands of people on both sides, so it could indeed be argued that by Balian's refusing to kill one man, much more were eventually killed.
  • The Wise Prince: King Baldwin IV.
    Baldwin: When I was sixteen I won a great victory. I felt in that moment I would live to be a hundred. Now I know I shall not see thirty. None of us know our end really... A King may move a man... but remember that your soul is in your keeping alone. Even though those who move you be kings or men of power... When you stand before God, you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Saladin and Baldwin share a great deal of mutual respect.
    • Balian earns the Saracens' respect while leading the siege of Jerusalem and negotiating terms.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Sibylla fully expects that she will go to hell for Mercy Killing her son. She still feels this is preferable over allowing him to suffer a drawn-out, painful death as his uncle did.
  • You See, I'm Dying: King Baldwin has advanced leprosy at the beginning of the movie already. In the very scene he's introduced in, he explains to Balian (and by extension the viewer) that he's dying of the illness and won't live to be 30 years old. And he does indeed die of his illness halfway through the movie.
  • Your Mom:
    Guy: If I had fought you when you were still capable of making bastards...
    Godfrey: I knew your mother when she was making hers. Fortunately you're too old to be one of mine.