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PHOTOGRAPHY

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (4 disc Director's Cut)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 194 minutes, audio commentary, trivia track, six part documentary, featurettes, trailers and TV spots, deleted and extended scenes (with optional commentary), and more

STUDIO: FOX/ Scott Free

RELEASE DATE: 5-23-2006

Director Ridley Scott stuck to his guns. He knew he wanted a director's cut of KINGDOM OF HEVAEN released to DVD. Only if FOX saw fit to release the 194 minutes version in theaters instead of the 144 minute cut, maybe KINGDOM OF HEAVEN would have been nominated for best picture and best director because the director's cut is better than any of the five films nominated for this year's Oscars.

Orlando Bloom plays Balian, a blacksmith who was an engineer in a war. Now his father, Godfrey (Liam Nesson), aks Balian to come to Jerusalem. Soon Balian finds himself a Baron of his father's land and in love with Princess Sibylla (Eva Green), the sister of Baldwin- the leper king of Jerusalem. Things are coming to a boiling point as the Muslims are pressuring Saladin to invade Jerusalem and the Templars wanting to go to war with the Muslims.

The Director's Cut restores 45 minutes missing from the theatrical version. The most important elements restored include Sibylla's son and the priest is Balian's half brother. The new elements in the Director's Cut help flesh out KINGDOM OF HEAVEN in so many ways. The Director's Cut helps cement KINGDOM OF HEAVEN as one of my favorite Ridely Scott films.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

The transfer is beautiful. Image detail is fantastic.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English, Spanish

the audio track is as good as the audio for the theatrical cut DVD. Dialogue is clear and music never drowns out other sound elements.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

DISC 1 and 2- The Director's cut has three audio commentaries. The first with Director Ridley Scott, Actor Orlando Bloom and Screenwriter William Monahan is the best of the tracks. It is an edited together track since none of the three were recording it at the same time, but you get plenty of insight into the film from a technical production perspective from Ridley to William being star struck when he was in a hotel room with Jeremy Irons. The second commentary (also edited together) features Executive Producer Lisa Ellzey, Visual effects Supervisor Wesley Sewell, and First Assistant Director Adam Somner. Film Editor Dody Dorn has the third commentary track to herself. The Engineer's Guide is a very informative pop up trivia track with facts on the period that the film was set in and the movie's production.

DISC 3- The first three parts of a very intensive six part documentary on KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The first part (Good Intentions) covers the development of TRIPOLI which FOX finally decided not to do and the development process of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Also included in the Development section is a still gallery of concept art and pre-production photos from TRIPOLI, an early draft of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN screenplay, a few of the Story Notes postcards made during script mettings, and a Location Scout Gallery.

The second part (Faith And Courage) goes into the pre-production phase of the film and features clips from the screen test Orlando Bloom did (too bad the full screen test isn't included on the DVD). The production Design Primer is a must if you want to know how the sets were built and the location challenges for the movie.  If you're interested in seeing some of the cast rehearsals, they are here.  Ridleygrams show of some Ridley's sketchs of ideas for the film.  In addition to a long featurette on the costumes, flags,  and weapons (Colors Of The Crusades), there are two galleries (Production Design and Costume Design).

Part 3 (The Pilgrimage Begins) covers the production of the film in Spain. Creative Accuracy has the scholars speak out about how accurate KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is and the areas where the film isn't.  Storyboard and Unit Photography Galleries are included too.

DISC 4- The highlight of the fourth disc are 15 deleted and extended scenes (with optional commentary by Ridley Scott and Dody Dorn). Also on the disc are four theatrical trailers and over 20 TV spots. You also get to look at footage from the film's premiere in London, New York, and Tokyo.

The second half of the six part making of documentary continues as Part 4 (Into The Promised Land) covers the Morocco part of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN's production.   Unholy War: Mounting The Seige goes into all the planning and work that went into creating the Seige of Jerusalem.   Also Storyboard and unit Photography galleries are in this section of the disc.  Part 5 (The Burning Bush) is about the post production: editing two different versions (the theatrical cut and what would become the director's cut), music, visual effects, and this being the first film that Ridley Scott used Digital Intermediate for.  In addition to deleted scnes, there is a sound design suite that breaks down the elements for a scene with featurettes on each elemnt that make up the final sound mix.  Don't forget the four  Visual Effects Breakdowns (Burning Man, Building Jerusalem, Casualities Of War, and Medievel Engines).  

Part 6 (Sins and Absolution) features the cast and crew reflecting on the film, a look at the reviews the theatrical cut got and it's performance at the box office, and a little about the director's cut being made for DVD. Paradise Found is a very brief promo featurette on creating the director's cut.  Poster Explorations gallery and a Special Shoot gallery are what round out the disc in addition to a press junket walkthrough of the props and costumes and models, footage from the world premieres of the film, Film trailers and TV spots, and Director's Cut credits.

The amount of extras I described on disc 3 and 4 are only the tip of iceberg as the discs are packed with so many extras that you can spend hours looking through them. DVD Producer Charles de Laurizika has put together another fantastic DVD for ScottFree. Also the deleted scenes and all the featurettes are in Anamorphic Widescreen.

DISC ART/ PACKAGE ART: The artwork and design work that went into the fold open disc case is fantastic. Disc art is 10 times better than the art used for the theatrical cut DVD.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The Director's Cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is a must own for anyone who loved the film or thought something was missing from it when it was first released. The four disc set is without a doubt one of the best multiple disc sets that were ever put out on DVD in 2006 and in any year since the DVD format has existed.

this review is (c)5-16-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com