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Beth37

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Beth! Excellent article! Thank you so much for making us aware of it. I am even more excited than before to get my hands on this DVD. I'm especially anxious to see the deeper development of Balian, his motivations etc. I cannot wait!

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Thank you, thank you Beth37 and Bill Hunt (editor of Digital Bits).

Here's my favorite part:

This, at long last, is Kingdom of Heaven as it was meant to be seen. It is finally a great film - the film Ridley Scott fans wanted and hoped it would be when they first saw it in theaters. It's worthy of inclusion among the director's best works (Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down) and it's well worth your time on DVD, even at 191 minutes (ESPECIALLY at 191 minutes). Forget the mixed reviews of critics - those all pertained to the other version, which you should just pretend doesn't exist. Kingdom of Heaven: The Director's Cut is a feast for your mind as well as your eyes and ears. Better still, for those of you who are fans of the process of filmmaking, Scott's work or just great DVD special features, the extras on this 4-disc set are a damn fine dessert. Very highly recommended.

I'm so glad that this movie is getting a second chance.

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Wow!! Thanks, Beth, and Mr. Hunt. :2thumbs: Another reason to cheer for the Director's Cut.

WW

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Oh wow. :blow: Although I am heartbroken that we were cheated of this masterpiece last year, I am SO happy it is finally being recognized, and we Orlando fans are being vindicated. And hopefully, this version will be seen by other big name directors and make them realize how wonderful and talented Orlando truly is. It is my dream to see Orlando work with Steven Spielberg. The day that happens, I will be a HAPPY girl. Thank you so much for posting about this, Beth. I am happy. Yes, I am. And I BELIEVE!

:crusader:

The Return of Balian! May 23rd, 2006.

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Thanks for sharing that wonderful review, Beth. I think the only possible problem with this set will be deciding just what to watch first.

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Oh my. What a wonderful and extensive review. Bill gave us a lot of information. It sounds like the extras are going to be amazing! Hours and hours of behind-the-scenes goodness. I think I'll enjoy watching the bonus discs as much as I do the LotR ones. WOW!

Thanks so much, Beth.

We're about a week and a half away from the release.

I believe! :crusader:

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This is great, even more than I had ever hoped for! :faint: Thank you for sharing the link with us, Beth 37.

(If you could only see my collection of KOH stuff!)

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Thank you Beth for bringing this to our attention. KLSMom has quoted already the part that rang very true for me. I like the sound of this bit:

The restored footage fleshes out a number of characters and story points considerably. Finally, you understand more of what motivates Balian - you see more of his life and circumstances in France.

I am looking forward to the new more indepth beginning the most, as Balian as a man and husband will be more fleshed out.

And the extras! The cast Rehearsal should be fun. :cheer:

I can't wait.

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Here is the total text of the review by Bill Hunt at The Digital Bits:

Kingdom of Heaven

4-Disc Director's Cut - 2005 (2006) - Scott Free (20th Century Fox)

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A-/A

Disc Ratings (DD/DTS): B+/A-

If you've read my review of the original theatrical version of Kingdom of Heaven on DVD, you'll know that I've felt that that version of the film leaves quite a lot to be desired. Although visually stunning and as expertly crafted as you'd expect from director Ridley Scott, the theatrical cut has many problems story-wise, including a lack of character depth and motivation, a lack of subtle intrigue, a number of plot events that seem to unfold with unrealistic ease or speed, etc. However, I've also known that the original director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven presented to Fox was nearly an hour longer, and that the studio pressured Scott to trim the running time down to allow for more screenings per theater. As a savvy businessman and producer in addition to his role as director, Scott complied. Unfortunately, the result of all the cutting was a film that's beautiful to look at, but that's largely empty of greater intelligence and substance. Mixed critical reviews and lackluster box office followed, which led many viewers to dismiss the film entirely.

Thankfully though, Scott planned all along that his preferred cut would eventually see the light on DVD. Fox Home Entertainment agreed, and this exceptional 4-disc set is the result. THIS is the version of Kingdom of Heaven that Scott fans have been waiting for. And if you haven't seen the film yet, trust me, don't even bother with the theatrical cut.

The basic plot of the film is covered in our previous DVD review, but suffice it to say that the main thrust of the narrative follows Balian (Orlando Bloom), a 12th Century French blacksmith whose wife has just committed suicide after losing their child - an action that is considered a grave sin, and dooms her soul to Hell. Balian is given a chance to find redemption for his wife, however, when the father he never knew, Godfrey of Ibelin (played by Liam Neeson), passes through the village with his band of Crusaders and offers to take Balian to the Holy Land. As his epic journey unfolds, Balian eventually finds himself a loyal and trusted knight of the King of Jerusalem, serving in the midst of a brewing conflict between the Christian warriors who control the city and the Muslim armies of Saladian bent on retaking it, all of whom believe that God - and right - is on their side.

So what makes this 191-minute cut of the film better? Plenty, let me assure you. The restored footage fleshes out a number of characters and story points considerably. Finally, you understand more of what motivates Balian - you see more of his life and circumstances in France. You see his wife briefly in Balian's memory, and understand his grief better. You learn that he's fought in war previously, and was an experienced engineer, so his cleverness in defending Jerusalem later in the film makes more sense. You learn more of Godfrey's own connections to Balian's home and his village, and why he would not only return to find Balian, but also why the local lord's men would attack them later (it's another family connection). The animosity between Balian and his brother, a local priest, is shown in greater clarity. Once Balian arrives in the Holy Land, you learn that Sibylla (Eva Green)'s marriage to Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas) is really one of convenience only, which puts Sibylla and Balian's romantic relationship into better context. You learn that Sibylla has a son (who was completely cut out of the theatrical version), and that her love of her son motivates almost every action she takes (which in turn makes sense out of her bizarre behavior late in the film). You see more of Balian's interactions with King Baldwin (Edward Norton, in an uncredited performance by his own choice), and their developing respect for one another. And, at last, you not only understand why Guy hates Balian (it isn't just about Sibylla), but their animosity actually pays off in a final confrontation that, again, is completely missing from the theatrical cut. I can't stress enough how different this version of the film is, and how much better and more rewarding an experience it becomes, with the restoration of the trimmed minutes.

This improved cut of the film is presented here on DVD in full anamorphic widescreen as you'd expect. It's been split over two discs so as to maximize the video bitrate, and now includes both a musical overture and an intermission break (at the end of Disc One). The overall image quality is excellent, and is notably improved over the theatrical version in the areas of color saturation and compression artifacting. The image is clear and clean, even in the most chaotic scenes, with excellent contrast and shadow detail. Scott's painterly cinematography is well presented here. Audio-wise, these discs offer both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound, as was the case on the theatrical DVD release. The Dolby Digital audio is good, with a wide front soundstage, tremendous low frequency reinforcement and lively use of the rear channels. The DTS improves upon this with a smoother, more unified soundfield and slightly more natural imaging. The DTS is my preference, but whichever track you choose, you'll enjoy an excellent surround experience.

As is the case on most of Ridley Scott's films on DVD, the production team at the Lauzirika Motion Picture Company has turned in an outstanding batch of special features for this set. The film itself features a brief video introduction by Scott, who admits that this is the version of Kingdom of Heaven he prefers. Discs One and Two offer a very good audio commentary track with Scott, joined by screenwriter William Monahan and star Orlando Bloom. It's packed with information and interesting little insights about the film's plot, development and historical background. There's a second, nuts-and-bolts commentary by executive producer Lisa Ellzey, effects supervisor Wesley Sewell and 1st AD Adam Somner, and a third track as well featuring editor Dody Dorn. The movie discs also include an optional text track, similar to the one that was on the Gladiator: Extended Edition, called The Engineer's Guide. It offers additional historical information, film production anecdotes and trivia, and even DVD production details.

Discs Three and Four together present a hefty, 6-part documentary on the film's production, entitled The Path to Redemption. The first three parts of this are on Disc Three, beginning with Part I: Good Intentions, which chronicles the development of the film. Included separately here are the early draft of Monahan's screenplay for the film, story notes, a gallery of location scout photos and a video overview of the original Tripoli film project out of which Kingdom of Heaven emerged. Part II: Faith and Courage looks more closely at the pre-production process. Also available in this section are cast rehearsal video, the Colors of the Crusade featurette on the film's costume design, a gallery of Ridleygrams (storyboards drawn by the director), the Production Design Primer featurette, a gallery of production design images and a costume design gallery. The final section of Disc Three focuses on the first part of the film's location filming in Spain. The documentary continues here with Part III: The Pilgrimage Begins. This section also includes the Creative Accuracy: The Scholars Speak featurette (on the historical accuracy of the film), additional galleries of storyboards from the film and a gallery of unit production photography images.

Disc Four offers the second half of The Path to Redemption, starting with Part IV: Into the Holy Land (which, as you might expect, chronicles the film's production as it continued in Morocco). There's a separate featurette here that focuses on the film's epic battle scenes, entitled Unholy War: Mounting the Siege. Also included here are more galleries of storyboards and additional unit production photography images. Moving on, Part V: The Burning Bush delves into the film's post-production process and addresses, among other things, the cuts that were made to the film. In this section, you'll also find 15 deleted and extended scenes (with optional commentary by Scott and Dorn) presented in anamorphic widescreen. Also available here is an interactive Sound Design Suite, which lets you view a scene from the film with a variety of different audio options (from different parts of the audio process), or view featurettes on the work involved at those same stages in the process. It's a great use of DVD's interactive capabilities that actually enhances your knowledge of the film - think of it as an extension of the Interactive Production Grid from the theatrical Kingdom of Heaven DVD. Rounding out this section is a set of four featurettes, covering different aspects of the visual effects process. These include The Burning Man: Fire Effects and Face Replacement, Building Jerusalem: Digital Matte Painting and 3D Modeling, Casualties of War: Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Warriors and Medieval Engines: The Physics and Firepower of Trebuchets, all of which are interesting viewing (personally, I particularly enjoyed the piece on the trebuchets constructed for the production). The final section of Disc Four examines the film's release and contains the remainder of the set's extras. The documentary concludes here with Part VI: Sins and Absolution. All of the film's trailers and TV spots are here too, along with video of the film's press junket and the premieres in London, New York and Tokyo, a gallery of "special shoot" photos, an extensive gallery of poster explorations for the film (including many that feature the title Crusade), and additional credits for the director's cut. Finally, there is the Paradise Found: Creating the Director's Cut featurette, in which Dorn and others address the work that went into creating the version of the film that's presented on this 4-disc set.

Need a nap yet? Trust me, you will after watching all of these extras - not because they'll put you to sleep, but simply for the sheer volume of material and the time it will take you to go through it all (you might want to pack a lunch before you start your viewing as well). These features are exceptionally well-constructed and thoughtful, offering real insights into the making of Kingdom of Heaven. Every bit of this material is worthy of your time and attention. I should note that all of the documentary features here are in anamorphic widescreen, from the featurettes to the galleries (only the TV spots are full frame, as you'd expect). I believe that this set is also meant to have a liner notes booklet, but one wasn't included in my review copy. It's my understanding that there's at least one Easter egg here too - when we find it, we'll update this review with the relevant details.

This, at long last, is Kingdom of Heaven as it was meant to be seen. It is finally a great film - the film Ridley Scott fans wanted and hoped it would be when they first saw it in theaters. It's worthy of inclusion among the director's best works (Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down) and it's well worth your time on DVD, even at 191 minutes (ESPECIALLY at 191 minutes). Forget the mixed reviews of critics - those all pertained to the other version, which you should just pretend doesn't exist. Kingdom of Heaven: The Director's Cut is a feast for your mind as well as your eyes and ears. Better still, for those of you who are fans of the process of filmmaking, Scott's work or just great DVD special features, the extras on this 4-disc set are a damn fine desert. Very highly recommended.

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That's great. Thanks for the link, Beth. I'm glad the release date is right before Memorial Day weekend - extra time to watch all the bonus disc materials. :cheer:

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Wow! I can't wait. The extras remind me of the LOTR extras. And in widescreen.

Commentary track with Orlando. :blush:

Is it the 23rd yet?

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This is so wonderful to read. :clap: Thanks, Beth and MI. As if I wasn't already so excited just to see the extended version of the film, the extras sound amazing too. And we DO get Orlando's commentary! :w00t:

I'm about to :kablaam: to see this.

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:2thumbs: Can't wait! It's sooo close! :cheer: I plan to spend the entire day viewing everything once my amazon order gets here!

Thanks for posting this great review!

Louise

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Thank you for sharing this wonderful review by Bill Hunt. Now I really can't wait to see Kingdom of Heaven the way it was meant to be shown and to see Orlando give the best performance of his career so far. :wub:

Thank you Beth and MI for bringing this to us. :hug:

Kim

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Oooh boy! This is like Christmas in May. I can't wait to see the story as it was meant to be. I can only hope any other moviegoers who wrote off the film (and Orlando's performance) due to the poor reviews give it ( and him) a second chance.

This marks the first time since LOTR that we get an Orlando commentary. Whoohoo!

Just what my inner fangirl :cheer: needed to get into Orlando-mode for DMC.

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Thanks for bringing this over, Beth. Now the question is, will I be able to wait until the evening of the 23rd to watch this, or will I take the day off from work to celebrate International Balian Day? :crusader:

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Now the question is, will I be able to wait until the evening of the 23rd to watch this, or will I take the day off from work to celebrate International Balian Day? :crusader:

I'm thinking the same thing. I have Monday the 22nd off(for my birthday and to have a long weekend)but am thinking of taking Tuesday off instead. I'll want to watch the movie, then the movie with commentary, then some extras. Of course my computer at work does have a DVD player. :devil:

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Thanks so much for printing this wonderful review of the Director's Cut of KOH. This is the kind of review that the movie would have received if it had been released in it's entirety ! :2thumbs:

I love it where Mr. Hunt says we should just pretend the theatrical release doesn't exist, because the full-length DC version is so far superior. I can only hope that the deserved honors and plaudits will come to Ridley Scott, the crew and the cast of Kingdom of Heaven after the release of this DVD.

Lenalove, I certainly agree with your thoughts:

I am looking forward to the new more indepth beginning the most, as Balian as a man and husband will be more fleshed out.

I too am looking forward to the more fleshed out Balian. :devil: Too much of his romance with Sybilla was left out in the theatrical release. We want more !

:whistle:

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I am looking forward to the new more indepth beginning the most, as Balian as a man and husband will be more fleshed out.

I too am looking forward to the more fleshed out Balian. :devil: Too much of his romance with Sybilla was left out in the theatrical release. We want more !

Trust me, friends. You WON'T be disappointed. The scene is a sheer beauty. They even changed the background music for THAT scene. ABSOLUTELY beautiful. I can't wait to see all your reactions, and I can't wait to hear what Orlando says during the commentary. 11 more days! :cheer:

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I am looking forward to the new more indepth beginning the most, as Balian as a man and husband will be more fleshed out.

I too am looking forward to the more fleshed out Balian. :devil: Too much of his romance with Sybilla was left out in the theatrical release. We want more !

Trust me, friends. You WON'T be disappointed. The scene is a sheer beauty. They even changed the background music for THAT scene. ABSOLUTELY beautiful. I can't wait to see all your reactions, and I can't wait to hear what Orlando says during the commentary. 11 more days! :cheer:

I hear you ladies. :) I just I hope I don't have to wait too long for it to arrive from Amazon. I don't think I can stand waiting any longer than I have to. :jumpy:

Kim

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:lol: I was actually talking about the character of Balian, not the love scene when I mentioned "fleshed out". I was being all mature and all. But now you girls have dragged me right to the gutter with you. I can live with that. :naughty:

I think we would all be lying if we said we were not looking forward to "that" scene the most. :smoke:

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