Kingdom of Heaven

Editor: Diana Landau
Pocket Books
RRP 16.99
ISBN 1 4165 1131 8
Available 03 May 2005

A millennium ago, Christian knights and princes descended on the Holy Land to take back Jerusalem from Muslim conquerors, setting off a bitter struggle whose effects are still felt today. Ridley Scott's movie, Kingdom of Heaven, is set during that 200 year collision between Europe and the East - at a time when the Christian King Baldwin IV and the Saracen general Saladin forged a brief truce amid the carnage of the Crusades.

Drawn into this immense drama is the young French blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom), who becomes a reluctant Crusader yet a true knight. Sword to serve the king and uphold this fragile 'kingdom of heaven', Balian is torn between knightly honour and his love for the king's sister. Sibylla (Eva Green). And when Jerusalem faces its greatest peril, he must use all his wits and courage to defend it against staggering odds.

This companion book, illustrated with more than 200 photos, drawings and Ridley Scott's own storyboards, documents every side of this landmark production; the massive sets, fabulous costumes, and period weapons, the depiction of medieval warfare of a scale never before seen. But it also delves into the details of storycrafting that give Kingdom of Heaven its solid historical grounding, and features a lively primer of the Crusades hat will expand readers' appreciation of both the film an the history behind it.

This book is great as movie companions go, but it does have quite a restrictive audience. I think you're only likely to buy this if A: you are a film nut, B: you are obsessed with Orlando Bloom, C: you're into history or D: you're into religion.

Having said that though, this book is very informative in many aspects, both in terms of the history behind the film as well as making it. It's broken up into lots of different sections, explaining about various groups of the time, knighting ceremonies etc. and then also how much time and effort the crew put into creating a feature which was as historically correct as possible.

Also great is the artwork. A mixture of ancient paintings, storyboards, sketches and photographs, they really add to the book. Then for the film fans, a section is dedicated to the casting of the film and how the team chose who would play each character (a good section of Orlando pics girls!)

With many other sections dedicated to weapons of the time, clothes, film making etc., sure this isn't a book for everyone, but for anyone with an interest in history, a passion for films, or just a love for one of its characters or crew, then this companion is great!

Keri Allan

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