Since I have some new Arabic friends online, I thought I would post this abbreviated version of a review I wrote on my favorite movie, Kingdom of Heaven. Now the reason it's my favorite movie in the first place, is that it shows that no matter what you are, there are good and bad apples in every bunch, yet there still can be respect, even among "enemies". Christian and Muslim friends, please feel free to comment on this note. I highly value and welcome opinions from everyone so that we can all have a better understanding of one another.
At the end of the 12th century, in the middle of the Crusades, a fragile peace prevailed between the warring Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem. It is this unusual period of time that director Ridley Scott and first-time screenwriter William Monahan use to their advantage in Kingdom of Heaven, a far-reaching period epic that is also relevant to our understanding of the conflicts in the Middle East of the present day.
By placing the story in this relatively peaceful time period between the Second and Third Crusades, the filmmakers have managed to fend off likely criticism by having no single religious group appear as the sole aggressor.
The enlightened Christian king of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV (Norton), a leper who has not much time to live, has instilled among his loyalists the idea of Jerusalem as a religious melting pot, home to Christians, Muslims, and Jews a real kingdom of heaven. He says, "All are welcome in Jerusalem - not only because it is expedient, but because it is right." It is in this regard that Scotts movie really takes flight: It becomes a canvas for ideas and ideologies in action.
Tiberias: But Saladin and the king between them would make a better world.
Hospitaller: If it lives only for a while, Tiberias, it still has lived.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind" And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. He also said, "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44) yet still today there are alot of religious people who would rather fight than attempt to understand one another.
Hospitaller: So how find you Jerusalem?
Balian of Ibelin: God does not speak to me. Not even on the hill where Christ died. I am outside God's grace.
Hospitaller: I have not heard that.
Balian of Ibelin: At any rate, it seems I have lost my religion.
Hospitaller: I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here (points to Balian's head) and here (points to Balian's heart) and what you decide to do every day will make you a good man...or not.
1 Timothy 2:4 God would have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
When we can come to the understanding that our battle is not to be waged against one another, but that the spiritual rulers of wickedness, which are enemies of all of us as a human race, are really our only true enemies, then we will have finally learned something.
Tiberias: That I would rather live with men than kill them is certainly why you are alive.
Guy de Lusignan: [Chuckles] That sort of Christianity has its uses, I suppose...
Balian of Ibelin: [to the people of Jerusalem] It has fallen to us, to defend Jerusalem, and we have made our preparations as well as they can be made. None of us took this city from Muslims. No Muslim of the great army now coming against us was born when this city was lost. We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended. What is Jerusalem? Your holy places lie over the Jewish temple that the Romans pulled down. The Muslim places of worship lie over yours. Which is more holy?
Balian of Ibelin: The wall? The Mosque? The Sepulchre? Who has claim? No one has claim.
Balian of Ibelin: All have claim!
Bishop, Patriarch of Jerusalem: That is blasphemy!
Almaric: [to the Patriarch] Be quiet.
Balian of Ibelin: We defend this city, not to protect these stones, but the people living within these walls.
Saladin: Who defends?
Nasir: Balian of Ibelin. The son of Godfrey.
Saladin: Godfrey? Godfrey nearly killed me in the Lebanon. Truly, I did not know he had a son.
Nasir: It was his son at Kerak.
Saladin: The one you let live?
Saladin: Perhaps you should not have.
Nasir: Perhaps I should have had a different teacher.
Saladin: Will you yield the city?
Balian of Ibelin: Before I lose it, I will burn it to the ground. Your holy places - ours. Every last thing in Jerusalem that drives men mad.
Saladin: I wonder if it would not be better if you did.
Balian of Ibelin: You offer terms. I ask none.
Saladin: I will give every soul safe passage to Christian lands.
Balian of Ibelin: The Christians butchered every Muslim within these walls when they took the city.
Saladin: I am not those men. I am Saladin. Saladin.
Balian of Ibelin: Then under these terms I surrender Jerusalem.
Balian of Ibelin: And peace be with you.
The King, Richard the Lionheart, went on to the Holy Land and crusaded for three years. His struggle to regain Jerusalem ended in an uneasy truce with Saladin. Nearly a thousand years later, peace in the Kingdom of Heaven remains elusive.
Troy A Lasseigne