History vs Hollywood
Does Ridley Scott favour action over accuracy in this Crusader epic about the Siege of Jerusalem?
A look back at Ridley Scott’s Crusader blockbuster, Kingdom of Heaven
Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Ghassan Massoud, Jeremy Irons Released: 2005
01 Balian of Ibelin, played by Orlando Bloom, was indeed a real-life knight who served in Jerusalem during the Third
Crusade. However, unlike in the movie, at no point did the nobleman work as a blacksmith as penance for his wife’s suicide.
02 King Baldwin IV, played by Edward Norton, really did suffer from leprosy – although he did not wear a silver mask to hide it, as in the film. It is also true that he defeated Saladin’s forces at the Battle of Montgisard, when he was just 16 years old.
03 Although the film portrays a romance between Balian and Princess Sibylla, in real-life no such relationship existed. However, Sibylla was married to Guy de Lusignan, the main antagonist of the movie, who became king of Jerusalem through their marriage.
04 As depicted in the film, the Crusaders did wander in the desert for three days without water before they were ambushed, sparking the Battle of Hattin. It is also true that Saladin’s forces crushed the Crusaders at Hattin before he marched to Jerusalem.
05 While Balain defends the city of Jerusalem as Saladin’s forces approach, the reality was far different. Balain barely escaped Hattin with his life and he only went to Jerusalem to get his wife and children – and only stayed after the people begged him to.
Verdict Though it is not a completely inaccurate film, Scott has used a lot of artistic licence here