Sunday, November 05, 2006

Kingdom of Heaven: 4-Disc Director's Cut Review

Last June I posted my impressions on the then recently released Kingdom of Heaven: 4-Disc Director's Cut and promised a review in the next few weeks, however it took me until last week to sit down and watch the bonus materials, so I'm just a tad-bit overdue.

Anyway, you can read those impressions for a more detailed opinion on the new cut of the film. In a nutshell: Different version, superior version, much more depth to the characters and a smoother flowing plot. This 3 hour Director's Cut is what should have been released to the theatres a few years back.

Anyway, the DVD set contains two bonus discs which are a full length documentary with a lot of supplementals on the making of Kingdom of Heaven from conception up to release. It goes into great detail on how Ridley met the writer (and how they were working on another film at first meant to star Russel Crowe) and how they developed the concept for Kingdom of Heaven. Great detail is shown on location, set construction, wardrobe, props, etc., that sitting down and watching the doc is to watch a full length feature itself.

The most interesting aspect of the documentary, however, is the ultimate decision to remove the boy from the theatrical version. In the original script (and in the Director's Cut), Sabilla has a son who becomes king, however Fox, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the "boy" plot took away too much from the film.

Throughout all of preproduction and production, Ridley couldn't make up his mind as to which version to keep, so they actually shot and began cutting two different versions of the film, the boy and no boy version. Ultimately, the no boy version was used for the final theatrical version and the film was marketed as more of an action flick, and of course it was greatly hurt by this simplified vision.

The proper, original version of the film is represented here in the Director's Cut, and it is highly recommended that you give it a watch. Ridley Scott is a master filmmaker, and the complete version of Kingdom of Heaven shows that he certainly still does know who to release an epic, engaging film.

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