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Kingdom of Heaven - We want to show that dialogue can be much better than war

Story by: Jack Foley

RIDLEY Scott's Crusades epic, Kingdom of Heaven, will improve Western understanding of the Muslim world and its beliefs, according to two of its Arabic actors.

Despite initial fears that the film would reinforce stereotypes, Syrian actor, Ghassan Massoud, who plays the Muslim leader, Saladin, insisted that it would actually help to create a wider understanding of the Muslim world.

While his Egyptian co-star, Khaled el-Nabawy, agreed that the film served as an invaluable history lesson to modern audiences that would prove to the world that Muslims are not terrorists.

Kingdom of Heaven, which is released on May 6, depicts a 12th Century Muslim-Christian battle for Jerusalem during the Third Crusade.

It stars Orlando Bloom as a common man who finds himself thrust into a decades-long war.

A stranger in a strange land, he serves a doomed king, falls in love with an exotic and forbidden queen, and rises to knighthood.

Ultimately, he must protect the people of Jerusalem from overwhelming forces while striving to keep a fragile peace.

The big-budget epic also stars Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons and is widely anticipated to be one of the biggest hits of the Summer.

Speaking ahead of the film's launch, however, Massoud claimed that it also serves as a timely reminder to the US of the benefits of diplomacy over war in resolving Middle East crises.

Commenting on his character, he said: "Saladin fights battles, but he also enters into dialogue. We want to show that dialogue can be much better than war.

"Today, America has overwhelming force but it is as if they don't want to build a dialogue."

Khaled el-Nabawy, meanwhile, said that early word on the movie had been widely-misrepresented, given that 'we have Christians who think this movie is pro-Muslim and Muslims who think that this movie is pro-Christian'.

He predicted: "It will make both go and see the movie, which is positive for improving understanding. It's time for the West to know more about us.

"We are not terrorists. We are very civilised and our history is a witness to this."

Kingdom of Heaven trailer and film clips:

Full Trailer

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Film clips (all in Windows™):

A New World:
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Balian Leads Men Into Battle
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I Am Unpredictable
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Night Bombardment
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No Need of a Perfect Knight
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Rise a Knight
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Speech to Jerusalem
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The Blade Isn't the Only Part of the Sword
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