Kingdom of Heaven
Produced and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Directed by Ridley Scott
Screenplay by William Monahan
Produced and distributed by Bull’s Eye Entertainment
Directed and written by Paul Haggis
As I watched Kingdom of Heaven, Sir Ridley Scott’s most recent directorial effort, a feeling of déjà vu descended upon me, the story line being that familiar. It concerns Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a resourceful 12th-century blacksmith who uses his peculiarly modern sensibility to defend himself from royal intrigues. Now, where had I seen this before? Faster than you could sing the opening bars of “Thou Swell, Thou Witty,” there appeared in my mind’s eye the image of Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. In this 1949 adaptation of Mark Twain’s satire, Crosby plays Hank Martin, a singing blacksmith who takes a blow to the head and awakens in sixth-century England, where he wows the superstitious Saxons with his 20th-century sensibility and know-how. Balian has much in common with Bing, although he is not nearly as credible since he hasn’t the excuse of time travel to explain his modern temperament. Scott and his screenwriter William Monahan have willfully fictionalized the historical...