The story begins in the year 1184 during the time of the Crusades for the city of Jerusalem. Balian (Orlando Bloom), a peasant blacksmith in France is visited by Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson). Godfrey reveals to Balian that he is his father, and he asks Balian to come with him and fight in the Crusades. Balian tells his father that he is mourning his wife, who has just committed suicide after the death of their newborn.
The village priest callously informs Balian that his late wife burns in hell for her actions, and enrages the grieving blacksmith to the point where he attacks and murders the holy man. Fleeing his native village, he joins up with Godfrey and heads off to the Crusades. Before dying, Godfrey knights his bastard Son, and makes him Baron of Ibelin, a territory in the Holy Land. Balian hopes that he can reach Jerusalem and beg forgiveness for himself and his late wife.
After being shipwrecked on the Levant coast, Balian is forced to fight for survival. He defeats an Arab “champion” and gains the respect of his Muslim opponents. He eventually presents himself to King Baldwin of Jerusalem (Edward Norton) and is confirmed as Baron of Ibelin. Balian finds Ibelin to be a remote desert oasis, but does his best to manage his new lands well.
The various Christian knights and lords are constantly bickering, with some pleased with the status quo, while others seek wealth and glory by attacking Muslim caravans and trying to expand the Christian-controlled territories. Guy de Lusignan, a member of the Knight’s Templar, is especially aggressive, and causes a rupture with the Muslims by attacking them ceaselessly. When King Baldwin dies, the truce with the Muslims is broken, and the Christians ride out to assault Saladin’s (Ghassan Massoud) mighty army. They are quickly dispatched in the desert, and Saladin besieges Jerusalem.
Balian and the people of Jerusalem fight for their lives as Saladin assault the city. They are badly outnumbered, however, and eventually have to capitulate. Saladin graciously allows them to leave the city, provided they leave all precious objects and gold behind. Balian returns to France, and is seen working as a smith again at the end of the film. He is approached by King Richard (of England) asking if he is Balian of Ibelin. Balian replies that he is a blacksmith, nothing more. —IMDb
One of the most promising directors of the late ‘70s, Ridley Scott displayed stylistic flair and remarkable storytelling abilities in such films as The Duellists (1977) and his landmark Alien (1979). Born in 1937, in Northumberland, England, Scott was educated at the West Hartlepool College of Art and London’s Royal College of Art. After completing his education, he became a set designer for the British Broadcasting Company in the early ’60s, eventually getting promoted to director of such popular BBC series as the long-running police adventure Z Cars. With the establishment of his own firm, Ridley Scott Associates, Scott was in on the ground floor of some of the most inventive European TV commercials of the 1970s.
The director’s transition to the big screen came with his direction of 1977’s The Duellists, a visually striking Napoleonic war film that won the Jury Prize for Best First Feature at the Cannes Film Festival. Further success followed with 1979’s Alien, which established… read more
More respectful of historical accuracy than most Hollywood films, Scott's epic portrays the Second Crusade as more a struggle between the forces of extremism and tolerance than one between competing religions. Bloom's performance is often criticised as that of a charisma-light pretty boy, but perhaps he represents pure, quintessential honour, akin to the War Poets: impossible ideals for such a brutal time.