Director Ridley Scott, Orlando Bloom and Eva Green examine
the Crusades in their new epic
By Chris Betros
If theres one Western filmmaker who should feel at
home in Muslim cultures by now, it would be Ridley Scott.
His latest epic, Kingdom of Heaven, which deals with the Crusades,
was filmed mainly in Morocco. Its the third film he
has shot in a Muslim country in five years, the first two
being Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.
Kingdom centers on Balian (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith who
has lost his family. The religious wars raging in the Holy
Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into the conflict.
Amid the intrigues of medieval Jerusalem, Balian grows into
a leader who must defend the city against staggering odds.
Co-starring Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Eva Green and Edward
Norton, Kingdom comes at a sensitive time, given the geopolitical
tensions in the world today.
I think the balance of the film is good, said
Scott. All the Muslim roles were played by Muslim actors.
Saladin is played by Syrian Ghassan Massoud, a renowned Muslim
scholar. We discussed things every day and he was a great
guiding influence. Having filmed Gladiator in Morocco,
Scott was no stranger to the kingdom. The people were
wonderful to work with. I have been asked, Werent
you threatened? Absolutely not. Thats the tabloid
press in Europe spreading stories and they are the worst.
We had a multinational cast and crew of Germans, Italians,
French, British, Moroccans and many more, sometimes up to
2,000 a day, all working to make a bloody good movie.
Kingdom marks Blooms second collaboration with Scott
after Black Hawk Down (in which Scott heaved him out of a
helicopter). In the past year, the 28-year-old British actor
has shot up in the popularity stakes in Japan where he is
referred to as Orly. Bloom seems to be making
a career out of appearing in historical and fantasy epics
(Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean and Troy, for
example). I studied classical texts at drama school
for three years. Maybe that has influenced my decisions,
A predominant theme in Kingdom of Heaven is code of honor.
Scott likens the code of the European knights to the samurai
code. These figures carry the attributes of a hero,
he explained, and one of the most important is that
the character holds to his own degree of fairness, faithfulness
and chivalry. Bloom said the message he got from the
film was to walk the Earth and make the world a better
place than when you found it.
So how will Kingdom fare in the Muslim world? Religion
is just a word, Scott said. It has been abused
by various factions of every order. Why dont people
let their instinct for goodness lead for a change?
Thirst Japan Final
Female K-Switch wins Japan heat of Heinekens
global DJ challenge
top: DJ K-Switch will advance to Thirsts Asian final
in Bangkok on May 28; club kid Nick Makahatadze; world-famous
DJ Roger Sanchez performed at the Japan final, which was
held at Ageha; Clubberia.coms Hiroshi Naka (c) and
Higher-Frequency.coms Kei Tajima (r)
Photos by Mark Oxley www.higher-frequency.com
From the old media to the new
Its a long way from the small steel-working Pittsburgh
suburb of Braddock to Tokyo, but Randy McGraw is right at
home as vice president of business development at ImaHima,
a new media company focused on mobile and online products,
and president of the Penn (University of Pennsylvania)Club
What first brought you to Japan?
DirecTV sent me in 1999 to help fix the Japan ventures
sales and marketing functions.
What led you to ImaHima?
Its really a question of media, so-called old media
and new media. Neither side really understands the other,
but the growing entrepreneurial business opportunities are
in the overlapping areas between them.
Tell us about the Japan Penn alumni.
Its a highly active, multicultural and multigenerational
group united by the common thread of US academic experience.
There are over 2,000 graduates who have been active in some
way over the past four years that I have been involved. We
have seen a few marriages of people who met through the Penn
Club, lots of successful job opportunities and placements.
We also participate in fundraising for charities.
How do you relax?
Exercising at Golds Gym and writing music or playing one of
my six guitars.
What is the weirdest thing you have done since you have
been in Japan?
Stripping down to a loincloth, placing an enormous wooden
phallus on my back, and happily toting it around a small town
as part of an annual fertility festival. CB
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