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Story Notes for Kingdom of Heaven

Monday through Thursday during prime time on AMC, you can catch Story Notes — real time trivia and facts about your favorite movies! Below is the online version of the Story Notes for Kingdom of Heaven.

Award Notes
Kingdom of Heaven won a Visual Effects Society Award for its computer-generated shots.

Biography Notes
Liam Neeson also played a knight in Excalibur (’81) and, of course, Star Wars: Ep.1 – The Phantom Menace (’99).

Liam Neeson learned how to sword fight for Rob Roy (1995). Later, he taught Batman how to yield a sword in Batman Begins (2005).

Director Ridley Scott was knighted in 2003.

Orlando Bloom survived an accident in Kingdom of Heaven and in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001).

Marton Csokas (Guy) and Orlando Bloom (Balian) were both elves in The Lord of the Rings movies.

After this, David Thewlis appeared in four more Harry Potter movies and in War Horse.

Jeremy Irons (Tiberias) went on to star in Eragon and The Borgias.

Actor Alexander Siddig would go on to star in Syriana, 24 and Clash of the Titans.

After this, Eva Green went on to play Vesper Lynd, James Bond’s love in Casino Royale (2006).

Blooper Notes
Assassins in the movie are dressed as Teutonic Knights. In reality, the Teutonic Order did not exist yet.

Casting Notes
A priest in the movie is played by Michael Sheen, who played former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen.

Orlando Bloom was cast for this movie the day after he finished shooting Troy (2004).

When this came out, Liam Neeson had just made Love Actually (2003) and Kinsey (2004).

Kingdom of Heaven features David Thewlis, a.k.a. Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter movies.

Kingdom of Heaven features Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. He plays Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones.

Kingdom of Heaven features Jouko Ahola, World’s Strongest Man in 1997 and 1999.

Marton Csokas (the Templar) fought Matt Damon to the death in The Bourne Supremacy (2004).

Kingdom of Heaven features Kevin McKidd, from Rome and Grey’s Anatomy.

Kingdom of Heaven features Alexander Siddig, who played Dr. Julian Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Kingdom of Heaven features Eva Green, whose breakout role was in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003).

Kingdom of Heaven features Brendan Gleeson, who won a Golden Globe nod for his conflicted hitman in 2008’s In Bruges.

Jeremy Irons (Tiberias) has been the bad guy in The Lion King and Die Hard With a Vengeance, but in this he plays a good guy, a noble lord intent on keeping the peace.

Saladin is played by Ghassan Massoud, one of the most respected actors of his native Syria.

Health Notes
Leprosy isn’t as contagious as most people think. Now, long-term antibiotics make patients non-infectious.

The Black Plague was over a century away, but there were still diseases from exposure to corpses.

History Notes
Only a tenth of Crusaders were knights or nobles. The rest were servants, pilgrims and laborers.

Liam Neeson’s character isn’t based on a real historical figure, but Orlando Bloom’s is.

The Hospitaller would be trained in medicine, since he belongs to the Order of the Hospital of St. John.

Messina was the most important port of departure for European knights on their way to the Crusades

The Crusades attracted those seeking salvation, and also those seeking fortune and power.

Guy de Lusignan was a French aristocrat who was banished from home for killing a man.

The Templars started out as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. They were powerful, secretive, and the most fanatical of all the Crusaders.

This movie depicts a cold marriage between Guy and Sibylla, but in reality, Sibylla loved him greatly.

The real Balian was a Frankish nobleman. He wasn’t a blacksmith; he was a French artisan.

Back then, even royalty ate with their hands. Utensils weren’t common until much later.

Reynald de Chatillon broke the peace with Saladin by raiding Muslim caravans in the 1180s. He also attacked the ports of Medina and Mecca by sea.

The movie features three factions. You can tell who’s who by their colors. The Templars are in white, the Hospitallers in black, and Tiberius’ forces in blue.

“God wills it” was the battle cry of the Crusaders. It was often shouted at their enemies.

The Muslims lost Jerusalem after the First Crusade in 1099.

Guy’s army marched off to war carrying the True Cross on which Jesus had been crucified.

A battle in the movie took place at the Horns of Hattin, located at the mouth of an extinct volcano. It was the greatest defeat in Crusading history. The entire Army of Jerusalem was wiped out.

Saladin’s forces came to Jerusalem in September, 1187.

The battle that Balian of Ibelin is best known for is The Siege of Jerusalem.

Guy de Lusignan was paraded around to demoralize the Christian forces.

Saladin knew Balian were enemies, but they had great respect for each other.

Safe conduct was granted at a price of ten dinars per man, five per woman and one per child.

Jerusalem was surrendered in October 1187. It wouldn’t be held by Europeans for 700 years, until General Edmund Allenby entered in 1917 during World War I.

Location Notes
They shot in Spain, near Loarre Castle, which was built a millennium ago.

They also shot in Morocco, where director Ridley Scott shot many scenes for Gladiator (2000).

They also shot in Seville, Spain, at the Alcazar, a Moorish fort turned into a royal palace.

Plot Notes
The Hospitaller knight is meant to be an embodiment of God… or an angel sent from God.

The Hospitaller anoints Godfrey with oil and performs his Last Rites.

In a few months’ time, Balian goes from blacksmith to knight to baron.

The inscription at Balian’s forge read: “What man is a man who does not make the world better?”

Godfrey told Balian in his knighting ceremony: “Safeguard the helpless.”

Balian is rewarded for his mercy, and for following his father’s words to “do no wrong.”

King Richard the Lionheart led the Third Crusade. He failed to retake the Holy Land.

Pop Culture Notes
Director Ridley Scott was greatly influenced by Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), in which a knight returning from the Crusades plays a game of chess with Death.

Kingdom of Heaven earned over $200 million worldwide and was praised for its message of peace.

Prop Notes
There were about 14,000 costumes created for the extras in Kingdom of Heaven, and 650 different flag designs. The budget for flags alone was about a quarter of a million dollars.

They made 3,000 shields for Kingdom of Heaven.

The filmmakers built real working siege weapons for Kingdom of Heaven.

A trebuchet could throw 100 lbs. of rock a distance of 400 meters.

The filmmakers built three siege towers. They were 60 feet high and weighed 25 tons apiece.

They made 20,000 arrows for Kingdom of Heaven. The rest are computer-generated.

The huge, mechanized crossbows are called “scorpions.” They date back to 264 BC.

Quote Notes
Orlando Bloom says this story is “about humanity; of doing what’s right.”

Orlando Bloom on his character: “Balian has an incredible arc. He’s a reluctant hero.”

Pope Urban II in 1095: “All who die… in battle… shall have immediate remission of sins.”

(Sibylla) says of co-star Bloom (Balian): “He’s charming and
straightforward. This role is good for him… he’s turning from a young
romantic lead into a rugged hero.”

Orlando Bloom (Balian): “I got to live every boy’s dream, man. I’m a knight!”

Bible: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his
immortal soul?” These words were said to screenwriter William Monahan by
his dying father.

Brendan Gleeson (Reynald): “I think the movie [shows] the nonsense of war…and the pointlessness of it and the lunacy of it.”

Arthur Max, the production designer, on the director: “Ridley Scott likes a flag.”

Orlando Bloom (Balian): “1,000 years later we’re still doing the same thing.”

Screenwriter William Monahan: “The film proposes that it’s better to live together than to be at war.”

Eva Green says this “is a movie that celebrates the goodness of human beings.”

Bloom says making this movie “was the most challenging and intimidating
time of my life… but it was the most rewarding.”

Ridley Scott: “I’ve had so many letters from Islamic groups… thanking me for a very understanding film.”

Random Notes
Today, no one knows the exact location of the Biblical town of Cana.

Source Notes
Kingdom of Heaven (2005) takes place between the second and third Crusades in the Middle Ages. Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner) had wanted to do a movie about knights for years.

Symbolism Notes
By giving up the trappings of royalty, Queen Sybilla can truly tend to her people.

Trivia Notes
Beheading suicide victims was supposed to keep their souls from entering heaven.

The word “blacksmith” comes from “black” (for the color of iron) and “smite” (to hit). Orlando Bloom also starts out as a blacksmith in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Suicide is considered a sin in most religions. In some states, it’s a crime.

One horse riding stunt featured in the movie is called a “wing ride.”

“Kingdom of Heaven” is a Biblical phrase used often in the Gospel of Matthew.

Damascus is the capital of Syria, where it’s called “The City of Jasmine.”

The hill where Christ was crucified is called Golgotha. It’s a popular pilgrimage site.

Today, Ibelin is called Yavne and is located 15 miles south of Tel Aviv.

The movie features an aqueduct, a bridge for carrying water from a distance. Some of the oldest aqueducts in the world are in the Middle East.

The French knights’ signature attack was called the “Frankish charge.”

“You reap what you sow” comes from Galatians 6:7.

As-Salamu Alaykum means “Peace be with you,” and Alaykum Salam means “And with you.”

The movie features “Greek fire,” an early form of napalm. It was invented around 673 by a Syrian engineer.

Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem died three years later at the age of 30.

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