Movies: To War or Not to War

Ridley Scott's ambitious Kingdom of Heaven tries to make a judicious action epic out of the Crusades

Two worthy adversaries--Balian (Orlando Bloom), leader of the crusading Christian army, and Saladin the Muslim (Ghassan Massoud)--meet to discuss what they're fighting over. "What is Jerusalem worth?" asks Balian. "Nothing," Saladin says. A pause, then: "Everything."

The apparent contradiction in that exchange gets to the crux of Ridley Scott's fascinating epic Kingdom of Heaven. The film, written by novelist William Monahan, constantly poses thorny questions on the nature of military goals and religious beliefs. It raises these issues for viewers and, crucially, for itself. And it keeps juggling its conundrums up to the climax and beyond.

Their dilemma is this: How...

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