"Kingdom of Heaven" is one of my favorite films, with luscious cinematography, glorious music, a good story with political intrigue and a historical perspective combines for a gritty and realistic portrayal of the fall of Jerusalem in 1187. "Kingdom of Heaven: The Ridley Scott Film and the History Behind the Story" is a behind the scenes look at the making of this epic Crusader film.
The book consists of 11 chapters, arranged in two parts, as well as a foreword by Ridley Scott. Part One, "Kingdoms in the Holy Land" discusses the history of the crusades, story development and pre-production. Despite the book's subtitle, the history chapter is very lightweight, and is unlikely to satisfy many readers interested in the Crusades. However, the book does provide a further reading section, which includes The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford Illustrated Histories), likely to be one of the better available resources on the Crusades. Part Two of the book, entitled "Swords and Stones", brings Balian's story to life by delving into the actual production of the film, with chapters on working on location ("Kingdom of Heaven" was mainly filmed in Morocco and Spain), the script, costumes, set and armour design (one of the more interesting chapters) as well as post-production.
It is accepted that Scott took certain liberties with history in making "Kingdom of Heaven". Such liberties are usually necessary for cinematic reasons and for audience clarity, and these, and the reasoning for this, are mentioned. For example, characters' names and, in some cases characterisations of an individual, may diverge from their historical counterparts. Such examples are discussed in the chapter on casting, "Casting the Kingdom", which is another one of the more interesting chapters of the book. It makes one appreciate the difficulties that filmmakers face in bringing a story based on real people to the big screen.
Lavishly illustrated with stills from behind (and in front of) the camera, conceptual art and sketches, as well as some contemporary artwork (mainly in the history chapter), this makes a good companion piece to accompany the film.