Theme: The kingdom of heaven
Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven begins with a few simple sentences, one of which contains a key word - "salvation". This is a movie about the salvation of a soul. It is about a soul's journey or "pilgrimage" from being lost to being found, from being a slave to being set free, from being dead in darkness to being alive in the Kingdom of Heaven.
There is only one way to make this journey, and that is to follow The Way of the One who opened the Kingdom of Heaven and made salvation possible - Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:17). Balian's journey, therefore, is very "Christ-like", and Balian himself is the picture of a true follower of Christ, a Christian1.
| The Way
|| Balian's Journey|
| Lost in death
||Europe in the grip of repression and poverty. The first snowfall of winter. At the cross -death, separation, and loss. "I want nothing."|
||One knight returns for his son. The humble blacksmith is really the son of Godfrey. The invitation is extended for a new life.|
| Confession & Repentance
||"I have done murder!" "Haven't we all." |
(Romans 3:23) The desire to seek forgiveness.
| New Covenant
Reconciliation with the father, becoming the son and heir. A covenant made within the veil under the cross. Receiving the father's ring and sword (authority and power).
||Ocean voyage, immersed in death and raised into a new life in a new world. |
||"I am the new one."|
| Confrontation with the enemy in the wilderness
||Defeats the enemy with the sword and comes out in strength. "Your enemies will know your quality before you ever meet them."|
||Submission: "God, what is it You want of me?" Surrender: Burying the cross.|
| The Disciples
||Identified by his father's men. They know it is the true son because he knows his father's eyes.|
| Making a new Jerusalem
||Defending the poor and helpless. Digging the wells for the water of life. Restoring the land. Confronting the enemy.|
| Refusing the World's offer to take the Kingdom
||Refuses to do a little evil in order to do a great good.|
| Conquering Death
||Conquers the three faceless black knights of death.|
| Returns to set the captives free
||Defends Jerusalem. Sets others free - "Rise a knight. "Brings the captives out.|
| Restoration of the Bride
||The invitation: "Decide not to be a queen, and I will come to you."|
| Song of Songs 7: 10-12
The movie begins with the contrast between two crosses - the large visible cross at the burial ground and the small hidden cross of pure gold on Balian's dead wife. These crosses symbolize the theme of the movie - the contrast and conflict between the large visible cross of the kingdom of religion and the hidden pure cross of the Kingdom of Heaven. Religion marches to holy war with a large gaudy cross ahead of its army; this kingdom ends in death for all who follow it. The true Kingdom of Heaven is buried like a seed, just as the small gold cross was at Calvary; this Kingdom ends up producing life and a great harvest (Matthew 13).
The King of Jerusalem wears a silver mask to cover the leprosy that is eating away his flesh. The leprosy is a powerful image and metaphor for the greed that has slowly corrupted him and his kingdom.2 Death is the great unmasking as we see when Sibylla removes her brother's mask. Later, while cutting her hair as a sign of shame and remorse, Sibylla's own mask is removed in the mirror's reflection. She sees the distortion of her soul as her face turns to that of her dead brother.
Probably the most iconic image of the film is the image of the two armies struggling at the broken wall of Jerusalem. Everyone will interpret this scene differently, but what the viewer must not miss is where this scene takes place. One of Saladin's top advisors suggests the wall is weakest at the Christopher Gate, while another questions that choice. Balian and his men decided to make their last stand at this sealed gate, hence the great battle scene.
There is no record of a Christopher Gate in the walls of Jerusalem during the Crusader Period, nor is there one today. The name Christopher means "Carrier of Christ" and comes from the literal translation of the name, which originally meant carrying Christ in one's heart.
1. Christian means "little Christ" (Acts 11:26).
2. In II Kings 5, Gehazi's greed results in his leprosy and that of this descendents.