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One of the Best Director's Cuts Ever Produced
on October 8, 2014
The Director's Cut of KOH turns a slightly above average film into an absolute masterpiece (a term I do not use lightly). KOH Director's Cut is one of my all time favorite films. Some people criticize the film for being anti- Christian. I say those critics are short minded and see only what they want to see. KOH painstakingly shows the religious divide between true, devout believers AND those who use religion as a means to achieve their own fanatical (and often insidious) agendas. KOH paints a realistic portrait of religion as a driving influence among the common man in all walks of life - from the lost and forlorn to the to the fanatical, power-hungry and politically motivated, demonstrating how religion brings out the best in some people AND the worst in others. The movie draws a sharp distinction between "religion" (man-made, easily corruptible and potentially shallow) versus "true faith" (understanding the will of God by seeking to know Him).
The movie serves as enjoyable entertainment, but it also goes much deeper than that: KOH is a parable, and the major character (Balian, played by Orlando Bloom) resembles any number of characters from scripture whose faith is put to the test. Suffering from the stillborn death of his son and the suicide of his wife, Balian is declared a heretic by the local church in the attempt to drive him from the village and claim up his property. The movie follows Balian's character arc as he goes from questioning God's purpose in his life to fulfilling that purpose by the film's end. The film also begs to ask whether or not the hand of God can be "seen" (so to speak) throughout the entire film, moving and guiding Balian along his chosen path (i.e., being the sole survivor of the shipwreck, etc). In other words, is the supernatural present throughout the movie?
For this reason (and others) I find the film to be incredibly deep and thought-provoking. There are scenes filled with symbolism that are simply poetic (such as when Balian grabs the crucifix from the priest's neck and it scorches his hand). The musical score is tremendous and adds emotional heft and gravitas to key scenes throughout. There are plenty of thought-provoking quotes interspersed throughout the film, mostly by characters who truly seek peace because they believe it is what God demands:
King Baldwin (Edward Norton): "When you stand before God, you cannot say, "But I was told by others to do thus," or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice. Remember that."
Hospitaller (David Thewlis) "I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here [points to head] and here [points to heart] and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not."
Village Bishop: "A law can go too far. I ask myself, `would Jesus do it thusly?' There is so much done in Christendom of which Christ would be incapable"
There are three versions of the film on this Blu Ray: the theatrical version (approx. 2 hrs.25 mins.), the director's cut (approx 3 hrs. 5 mins.), and the "road show" version, which is the director's cut with an added musical overture and intermission (approx. 3 hrs. 10 mins) which gives the movie that grand, epic feeling that encompassed so many of the classics of old like Gone With the Wind, Ben Hur, El Cid, etc.). All three versions of the disc, along with director's commentaries for each version, are on 1 disc. The second disc contains all the documentaries and other special features.