Baliam, a blacksmith, is approached by crusaders (one being his father) to join them in their quest. After first refusing to do so, certain immediate events after that refusal force him to change his mind.
He joins his father, who eventually knights him to take his place, in the few crusaders who were loyal to the king. These men’s focus is peace and honor. Something other knights, led by an evil lord, do not have or wish at all.
Baliam finds himself in the middle of feuding knights, confusing loyalties, and Jerusalem on the brink of a war with the muslims. He must choose and decide for himself, what God’s will truly is and then, stand against the men who are against God.
Things I liked
Baliam, played by Orlando Bloom, has all the qualities one would expect from a good lord and knight. He despises injustice, desires peace, is honest to the point of admitting murder, is humble and asks for forgiveness, and speaks his thoughts in a simple way. He has flaws, like all well developed characters. When a decision came that was extremely utilitarian in its purpose, he choose the one that was biblical, not otherwise. Baliam is a hero in this movie I felt good rooting for. Ultimately he is selfless in his actions and patient in his example. A true model of a good knight and lord.
The king of Jerusalem has an extreme illness that is killing him, and early on in the movie, has has a conversation with Baliam. The quotes regarding faith versus religion, convictions, and God’s will are incredibly artistic and spot on. One time the King says “You see, none of us choose are end really. A king, may move a man. A father, claim a son. But remember even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say but I was told by others to do thus. Or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice.” Baliam holds true to this quote throughout the movie.
Another instance Baliam is talking to a priest, as jerusalem is about to be invaded:
Priest: “we must flee the city on horse”
Baliam: “And what about the people?”
Priest: “It is unfortunate but it is God’s will.”
Baliam: “You’ve taught me a lot about religion priest.”
All throughout the movie we see the evil crusaders using “God’s will” as an excuse to serve their selfish desires, and ultimately, like proverbs says, they are themselves destroyed by their evil passions. We also see a clear distinction between faith in God and practicing religion, and how religion is something to be avoided and despised.
Things I didn’t like
The king has a sister, Sybilla, who likes Baliam and Baliam likes her. She is promised to marry the lead antagonist, a rude, arrogant, and generally unlikeable lord who is set to become king. She is against this, and in one scene, we see her come to baliam’s house. They kiss, and she spends the night at his house. Much is implied through that scene. While there is some remorse afterwards, it is more because of they fact they cannot marry, as opposed to the actual sin.
For those of you who don’t know, Ridley Scott directed this movie, and he is known for a violence in films that is not at all appealing. It is bloody, dirty, and at times, horrific. He does this to show the glory in war is not all that it is cracked up to be. How much we are reminded of that in this movie. I cannot begin to tell you how many people die in this movie. There is an epic battle scene near the end of the movie, much like you would see in Lord of the Rings. Blood flows, splashes, and squirts freely.
Perhaps even more disturbing however are the individual killings seen in 2-3 minute clips early on in the movie. In just anger, Baliam slaughters a preist, running a sword through the man and pushing him into the smithy where he burns to death. In a forest ambush, we see a group of a dozen men shot in the chest, neck, and heads with arrows. Some keep fighting however, while looking like bloody pincushions. We see blood flow freely here as well. In the aftermath, we see the corpses, awaiting to be buried.
Other violence includes men being hanged, heads mounted on pikes after a battle, and in one battle, a slow motion sword hack that gets a man in the neck. A peaceful Arab emissary is knifed in the head as a response to war. The evil knights kill innocent civilians…. and more. Never is this violence glorified or approved of. Much like in Lord of the Rings, it is present because evil men wish it to be and are using people to serve their purposes. It is there though, and not at all enjoyable.
Words such as B—–d, H–l (out of context) are used, and God’s name in vain are used a few times.
“What man is a man that does not leave the world a better place?”
This is a question the Baliam asks early on in the movie. Indeed, it seems all his actions revolve around this quote, and wanting to leave the world a better place. Not because he has something to gain, but because it appears, he values his conscience being right with God.
This movie shows, in my opinion, a man who rises above the worldly and petty bickering, stands against (for the most part unless it involves girls) temptation for selfish desires, and uses his title to work in a way that will make peace. Even when everyone else turns against him. Evil, is shown for what it is, and then justly punished… And a pretty solid worldview on what God is, what people make him out to be, and a positive view on faith in God rather than religion is shown. It is a war movie with a commendable hero and a just ending.
So if you can handle the bloody and gruesome violence of war brought by the antagonist, and want a full and satisfying story… Check this one out.