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Geri

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.so they went to England to start a new life for themselves and saw there that Prince John was destroying the kingdom while King Richard fought in the Holy Land. So Balian, being Balian, did everything he could to preserve England for the Lionheart, fighting to protect the people from the despot John.and when Richard returned, he elevated Balian, aka Robin (robbin the rich.)of Loxley, to Earl of Huntington out of respect and gratitude.. :lmao: please :shiny:

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I seem to recall something in the commentary between Ridley, Orlando and Bill which talked about how the trip to the village where Balian lived was not the sole reason for their travels. That would support the notion that they were there by circumstance of other business (as knights often traveled to other lands to defend the helpless, enlist more soldiers, solicit financial help, to make political affiliations). I hold that they were on their way to Jerusalem and decided to make the stop, with Godfrey deciding to take the advice that was given to him "upon the road" by the Hospitaler. It seems that he would not need counsel during the journey nor that prompting by the Hospitaler had it been a trip made only to seek Godfrey's son. It would have been his mission and purpose.

I agree with Krissy that the two lovers were disenchanted with all that took place in Jerusalem, and were ready to leave it all behind them. This is supported by Balian's early decision, before the seige even took place, to bequeath Ibelin to Almaric and to make him the new lord over his father's lands. I feel like he believed he would be killed, and that if he lived, he knew wouldn't being staying in the Holy Lands. I just don't feel like there was any compelling reason to think Balian would deny who he was to Richard, which is essentially what he did, only to turn and follow him back into a war he knew to be pointless- and this after he gave his lands there to someone else, lock stock and barrell.

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I have been silent about the adultery issue because I couldn't find the right words, but reading all your comments about it was very interesting. But no one brought up that new scene in the Director's Version.

After Balian is done with his work, he comes in, and Sybilla is waiting for him. She tries to wash Balian's face with a towel. Balian hesitates, and in response, Sybilla comments, "but this isn't adultery. It's washing. But if it were adultery, which it isn't, Commandments aren't for people like us." I think this new scene speaks volumes. Balian is obviously attracted to Sybilla, but doesn't want things to go further. Sybilla, on the otherhand, saw a man from whom she can draw solace and comfort. She was in a loveless marriage, and here comes Balian. Balian who was totally the opposite of Guy in every aspects. I think any woman in her situation will be attracted to Balian. And what about Balian? He is in an extremely vulnerable state, and as hard as he tries not to, he falls in love with her, until their relationship becomes a full-blown affair. Balian and Sybilla found each other when they were most vulnerable and unhappy, and saw the remedy for that in each other.

I am in no way condoning their love affair, because it IS adultery, but when two people who are in vulnerable or sad state meet, it often leads to an unforseen relationship. It is human nature. Dare I say that's why God put "thou shalt not commit adultery" as one of the Commandments? We are creatures of emotions and passions, and if we don't keep them in check, things will get rather complicated. Balian may have been a man of great courage and dignity, but when it came to the matters of the heart, he was all too human. He must have thought defending Jerusalem was easier than controlling his own emotions and passion. This makes him all that more human, and not just this perfect knight who was incapable of doing anything wrong. And as for Sybilla. I will use her own words to describe her. " A woman in my place has two faces. One for the world, and one which she wears in private. With you, I will be only Sybilla."

I hope I made sense. :paperbag:

ETA - Edited to correct some mistakes

Edited by Suzie

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...so they went to England to start a new life for themselves and saw there that Prince John was destroying the kingdom while King Richard fought in the Holy Land. So Balian, being Balian, did everything he could to preserve England for the Lionheart, fighting to protect the people from the despot John.and when Richard returned, he elevated Balian, aka Robin (robbin the rich.)of Loxley, to Earl of Huntington out of respect and gratitude.. :lmao: please :shiny:
You really seem anxious for Balian to don those famous green tights. Not too far of a stretch (no pun intended) since he already has the English accent. :whistle:

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I had thought at one time that Balian traveled that road because it took him past the place of his wife's burial. But the more I see that scene the more it seems that it was just a sad coincindence. If he had gone that way simply to pay respects to his deceased wife, he would have done more than pause upon his horse for a moment. He would have stopped and gotten down off the horse. I suppose he was paying his respects when he returned to the home that they had shared.

So, now I tend to think that he went that way because it was the most used road out of town and that seeing the place of his wife's burial he was brought up short. I think Balian and Sybilla were heading for a new life with no intention of ever returning to the Holy Land. I don't blame them.

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I agree, Adrianne, they were heading to a new life.

As for the adultery, yes, you made a lot of sense, Suzie.

I am usually very much against adultery because it is so hurtful, but to me this wasn't the same at all. Theirs was a marriage formed for all the wrong reasons. Not a marriage of the heart, so to me, it wasn't a true marriage anyway. No love was felt between them. Not a marriage either genuinely cared about because they didn't care about each other.

I am so grateful that this DVD came out so we can see the complete story. Those scenes in the beginning, especially, are key to understanding Balian.

On a side note, that black horse in the film is so beautiful. I'm glad Balian was given the horse in the end.

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From Ceri's post:

My take was that Balian and Sybilla were off to start a new life for themselves, as far as they could get from wars, deceit and intolerance. With his skills, Balian could make a living anywhere he chose to go without ever raising a sword again. There are a lot of places to stop along the way, whether the road leads east, west, north or south.

You said it just the way I was thinking it, Krissy. They were going to start a new life together, far away from wars and politics. So naturally, they would head to England ! :lmao:

And from Loni's post:

...so they went to England to start a new life for themselves and saw there that Prince John was destroying the kingdom while King Richard fought in the Holy Land. So Balian, being Balian, did everything he could to preserve England for the Lionheart, fighting to protect the people from the despot John.and when Richard returned, he elevated Balian, aka Robin (robbin the rich.)of Loxley, to Earl of Huntington out of respect and gratitude.

Didn't Ridley even say something to this effect in the monologue with Orlando and Monahan? What a great story that would be ! :2thumbs:

ANYTHING TO SEE ORLANDO IN THOSE GREEN TIGHTS ! :hott:

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I totally agree with Geri. Guy was also on the same kind of quest as Godfrey. Remember that Tiberias asked him how many knights he brought back with him at that lovely dinner party in Jerusalem. The various Lords were responsible for their own recruiting in those days. It was a long journey and Godfrey obviously confided in his friend, the Hospitaler, who advised him to reveal the truth to his son. If Godfrey had found Balian thriving, happily settled with his wife and child, I wonder if he would have even suggested that Balian accompany him to Jerusalem. He might have tried to make amends some other way, but finding his son in such a 'nihilistic state of disillusionment' prompted him to offer an alternative that would provide some hope. Although he might have offered anyway since he knew how greedy and hateful Balian's half brother, his own brother and the cousin were.

I'm going to take the unpopular position of agreeing with Sybilla on the adultery issue. (Although we should differentiate between fiction and reality. - In reality Sybilla gave in to political pressure to divorce Guy on the condition that she could choose anyone she wanted as her next husband. Her demand was granted. She turned around and chose Guy again! In reality Balian was not a blacksmith from France at all. He was of the second or third generation born to a very powerful family in the Holy Land. Through his wife, Maria Comnena, he had something of a claim to the crown himself. Baldwin didn't trust him because he was too powerful.)

Arranged marriages are rarely based on love. Sometimes love grows. Sometimes it's more of a business deal. I think the script made it clear that Sybilla's marriage to Guy was purely ceremonial and unconsummated. In my book, that's not a marriage. That's a political alliance. Does that hold up against meeting your soul mate? Only if you are uncommonly unselfish and the political marriage actually accomplishes some good for the country. In Sybilla and Guy's case (in the script) the effect was blatantly negative. Kings and Queens are accustomed to having many lovers since their relationships with their partners are so often purely for power reasons. I have a real problem calling that a true marriage. The "affairs" often last a lifetime. (Look at Charles and Camilla.) I'm not saying adultery us OK. I'm just saying I don't see this specific case as qualifying.

Just my two cents.

Krissy

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Ceri Lasgalen, you make a very good case for the adulterous relationship from Sybilla's point of view.

But what about Balian's point of view? He's the one who's obsessed with "right action." In my opinion, it's Balian's participation in the relationship that seems out of character for him, not Sybilla's.

Ridley Scott certainly gave us all a lot to talk about!

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Donna, I agree with you. Sybilla and Guy's marriage was not one of love. It was just on paper. Yes this makes a huge difference.

I too had wondered what direction they were all heading in the end. This is something I wish I could ask Sir Ridley or William about.

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Ceri Lasgalen, you make a very good case for the adulterous relationship from Sybilla's point of view.

But what about Balian's point of view? He's the one who's obsessed with "right action." In my opinion, it's Balian's participation in the relationship that seems out of character for him, not Sybilla's.

Exactly my point. Balian is not in the same position at all. He was in a loving, caring relationship that ended tragically. My problem is I don't see him dealing with that tragedy enough. It just seems to go away. He buries his wife's cross on the hill where Christ was supposedly crucified and that's it. And I'm still trying to figure out what it is exactly that a man like Balian saw in what amounts to a spoiled little rich girl.

Okay, I'll shut up now.

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For all his talk later in his life about right action, Balian is a murderer. He murdered his brother in anger and went to Jerusalem to erase his sins. He is a good person but he is human. He is flawed. :tomato: Sybilla is flawed. They are drawn to each other. And his wife has been dead for about a year or more when he starts the affair with Sybilla. He's human and she's seductive. It's not right but it caused him to have his shirt off in more scenes and I'm all for that. :lol:

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Lianna, Adrianne this may not be a very satisfying answer, but it's what I believe. We have to remember that we are dealing with a fictionalized account. The relationship between Balian (who some suggest is a composite character) and the real Sybilla was nothing like this at all. This isn't meant to be a biography. In fiction, even when it's based on historical events, it is customary to move things around and invent motivations to create dramatic tension and flow. Balian was the character chosen to be the Hero (the real Balian DID defend Jerusalem and surrender it to Saladin, just not exactly the way the film depicts it). A fictional hero must have a character arc or he becomes a cartoon. He has to go on his journey and learn something along the way. He can't be perfect or no one would be able to identify with him. (I read somewhere the opinion that if Balian were perfect, he'd just be an annoying, holier than thou pain in the ass. I thought that was harsh, but I understand the point.)

The fictional Balian started from a very low state, emotionally and in terms of his place in society. While he had still been raised to be honorable and to think in terms of making the world better, a knight or a Baron would certainly have more opportunities for that than a mere blacksmith. He took his oath to his father very seriously at a time when his faith in God was severely shaken. To the end he still doubted that God had forgiven him. "If God did not love you, how could you have done what you have done?" Nasir asked him after the surrender of Jersualem, suggesting that, even then, he wasn't convinced.

Here was a man who had taken a warrior's oath and done the very best he could to uphold it. If the Hero had to have a flaw, it couldn't be something that would affect his status and integrity on the battlefield or in the government councils. Adultery, if we have to call it that, is the most likely choice as his weakness, and we watched him struggle with the idea even though his wife had been dead for over a year by the time Sybilla decided to throw herself at him. He was still emotionally bereft, probably unbearably lonely since he lost his wife, child and father in such relatively quick succession. Here was a woman who saw who he was in his soul and admired him for it. I hardly think we can call Sybilla a spoiled brat. There was no indication that she was taking one lover after another. She even told Balian they could not see each other in the city. A spoiled brat would have thrown her weight around a lot more in public and done as she pleased in private. She was the one with the power, after all. That was the only reason Guy stayed with her. Without her, he had no claim to the throne at all. She had been raised in a Royal family and trained in the privileges and responsibilities of that status from the time she was a child; the same way she was training her son to carry on. She was a woman who had been told who to marry and had come to some kind of terms with that, until she saw a man who was really worth loving.

Sybilla and Balian gave each other a refuge from the storm that raged around them. She was willing to cause Guy's death keep him. Balian's conscience reasserted itself and he knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if it came to that. Sybilla was still thinking that the ends justified the means; Balian knew better. They had lessons to learn from each other. If a person isn't tested, especially in fiction, how do they (and we) know if they are as good as their word? I think this relationship was essential and I still hesitate to call it adultery, although Balian may have thought it was. Did their relationship hurt the country? If it did, it was at the bottom of a very long list of things far more evil. Did it hurt Guy? Only because he knew Sybilla didn't love him and felt threatened by her obvious love for Balian. He was also a snob who was offended by Balian's low birth. He tried to kill Balian more than once to assure that he would stay one step away from the throne. He even vaguely threatened Sybilla's son before they knew he had leprosy. ("His reign will be short and bloody.") No. He does not in any way deserve to be called Sybilla's "husband".

Sorry. This is way too long, but this story is so deep and rich and layered.

I'm off to watch more of the Extras.

Krissy

PS: And like Buttercup says- there's the shirt thing. :lol:

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That's a really interesting analysis, Ceri Lasgalen. Thank you.

And yes, there is the shirt thing. :giveup:

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Adultery, if we have to call it that,

We do have to call it that because that's what it is, by definition. Listen, I know this is just a movie, I know these characters were written to somewhat resemble people or composites of people who actually exisited. I know that people are flawed. Heaven help me, I am most of all. I have committed more than my share of sins. And I'm deeply familiar with this particular one. I understand how it can happen and even empathize with some of the motivations and reasons. It is why I can say so emphatically that it is still wrong. In any case, I seem to have opened a can of worms with the disappointment I expressed about this particular thread of the story.

I enjoy this film immensely. I love Orlando's performance. He is no less than brilliant and this role shows me what great things are in store for him and for us as his fans. But there are things about the story that bug me. Balian's adultery is one of them. What I consider a glossing over of Balian's dealing with his child's death and his wife's subsequent suicide is another. I don't like Sybilla. I don't find her sympathetic except during scenes with her son. But it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate Eva Greene's performance. If she makes me feel this strongly about her character she is obviously doing a great job. These are my opinions, nothing more.

If I have stepped on anyone's toes, I sincerely apologize.

And yes there is the barechested, no shirt thing. :faint:

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I think a close examination of the way royal women of that time (especially those acting as regent or who were on the throne) lived and survived, and what they often had to do to maintain their positions might help alleviate some of the criticism of Sybilla. Yes, she was draped in jewels and silks, had her own private rooms in the palace, had her own cooks, but being a woman she was still subject to abusive treatment by men in positions of power-as Krissy has already hinted at- and which we only glimpsed when Guy came univited and unhindered to her private rooms. He spoke threateningly to her, was physically intimidating and spoke of blackmail if she did not perform according to his demands. Husbands were chosen for these women, as it suited the needs of power and politics. It was often a cruel destiny, this idea of being born to privilege. Royal women often lived in fear and walked a fine line to remain safe in their own homes.

At the end of the day, all of the characters are flawed in some way, even the heros and heroines, and it just wouldn't be possible in the time alloted for a dramatization of this magnitude to justify all of their behaviors in a way that satisfies all of our questions and moral requirements.

And there's always the bare chest thing, which covers a multitude of sins, both for the heroine and the filmmakers. The shoulders and back aren't bad, either. God bless Orlando's personal trainer. :wink:

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From Geri's post:

God bless Orlando's personal trainer.

Yes, indeed. :clap:

But, aside from his body, I have always loved Orlando's eyes/cheekbones/hair :hott: -- Orlando "had me" back in Rivendell when he dismounted from that horse! :lmao:

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I finally bought this DVD and made it through the drastically different movie, and all I can say is.Poor Ridley and Orlando. The director's cut was a million times better then the theatrical version, and if all the critics and audience members saw that performance and cut of the film, I strongly believe that there would not have been as many negative reviews calling the film a failure.

This version is certainly the way the film was meant to be seen. More character development and depth, more explaination for Balian's ability to do what he did, just better all around for all of the characters. Sybilla had more depth, even Godfrey was a more developed character. Everything was just.better.

I would love to spend some more time going more in depth with specifics, but I don't have the time at this moment. I just had to pop on and say how much I loved this version, and how I wish everyone could have seen it and know beyond a doubt that it was a fantastic movie with an amazing cast and crew.

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From Geri's post:

God bless Orlando's personal trainer.

Yes, indeed. :clap:

But, aside from his body, I have always loved Orlando's eyes/cheekbones/hair :hott: -- Orlando "had me" back in Rivendell when he dismounted from that horse! :lmao:

I'm with you, Annabelle. He had me at the Rivendell dismount, and has kept me as a fan ever since. :wub:

WW

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I love coming here and getting all the different viewpoints and ideas about KOH. It's kind of funny that the only person at my house that will talk to me about this is my nephew, who is in the third grade. He brought up a question today that has been in my mind also. He asked if Balian was dead when Hospitaler came to hime after the templars ambushed him. He noticed how Hospitaler leaned over and touched him on the temple, then Balian moved. On one of the comentaries Ridley Scott said he had intented to make Hospitaler more mystical, then pulled back on it some. Also he said at one point that he wondered how many people knew that Hospitaler was a representation of God in the movie. I don't know if I put that very well, but does anyone have any ideas about it?

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I was sort of wondering the same thing serendipity. I only watched some of it, but in the commentary version, if my memory serves, Ridley mentioned there about how he intended Hospitaler to be a representation of God in the film, or at least an Angel. So it could be that the touch brought Balian back to life in which case I can see why that bit was cut, bit of a stretch there in my opinion.

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I was sort of wondering the same thing serendipity. I only watched some of it, but in the commentary version, if my memory serves, Ridley mentioned there about how he intended Hospitaler to be a representation of God in the film, or at least an Angel. So it could be that the touch brought Balian back to life in which case I can see why that bit was cut, bit of a stretch there in my opinion.

I agree. It's a stretch. I never considered Balian dead by any means, just weary, spiritually as well as physically. However, I can see the Hospitaler as a bit of a mystic person. He has an air of peace about him even in the midst of turmoil that is something I imagine comes from true faith. He certainly has an understanding of what God expects of a good man. He also seems to be around at times when Balian is especially plagued by spirtitual doubt.

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My take on the Hospitaler character and the "touching" incident:

I'm thinking that Ridley Scott wanted a character in the movie that was symbolic of all that is good in men, and what better example than a "man of God", a Hospitaler? Scott did not mean him to actually be a god, or an angel, but merely representative of the "best" of mankind. If he made him somewhat mystical -- that's called poetic license (i.e., disappearing in that scene of the burning bush, and seeming to bring Balian back to life in that "touching" scene). He was not a god nor an angel, but as human as the rest of us, as evidenced by his beheading at the end of the Hattin massacre.

With regard to the "touching" scene, my thinking is that Balian was merely unconscious, and when the Hospitaler came upon him, he felt his temple to see if he could find a pulse. Finding one, he moved on. But I'm sure Scott loved that some of us had the interpretation that he "brought Balian back to life". :O

Since we all can have different opinions on this, it just reinforces my opinion that Kingdom of Heaven is a multi-leveled drama, full of moving stories with various interpretations, all of which lead to broad discussions and eventually to an understanding of history and the opening of paths to tolerance. It is a movie that will be discussed and enjoyed for many years to come. :2thumbs:

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Did anybody notice in the burning bush scene David Thewlis's character the Hospitaler arrives unannounced without a horse and is gone without a horse when Balian turns around after the second bush catches fire?

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Did anybody notice in the burning bush scene David Thewlis's character the Hospitaler arrives unannounced without a horse and is gone without a horse when Balian turns around after the second bush catches fire?

Yeah, it looks like Ridley was trying to imply that the Hospitaler just appeared. You might also interpret the second bush catching fire on its own as a counter to Balian's statement that a spark lighting a creosote bush doesn't indicate divine presence. ,Or was it just another spark flying over from the first bush that lit the second one? I don't know.

~TF

:paperbag:

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