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Kingdom of Heaven Filming in Avila, aviladigital.com (Spain), February 3, 2004
translated by Silke

Ridley Scott finishes today the filming in the capital of Avila
Avila, the scene of the coronation of the King of Jerusalem in The Kingdom of Heaven

"Silence, please, we’re filming", called the production assistants in front of the Cathedral to the hundreds of watchers, who, behind the barriers tried to make out some famous faces among the soldiers, lawyers and noble people, faces such as Jeremy Irons or Eva Green, who are acting out The Kingdom of Heaven, a movie which is currently being filmed in Avila by famous British director Ridley Scott. The production, we are informed by the team, is going like clockwork, matching the time plan. The three days of filming in Avila will result in only three minutes on the screen in the movie which will come out in autumn of 2005 in the USA.

Queen Douoghus, spokesman for the production team explained that the Cathedral of Avila was transformed, thanks to the tapestries and armours, into a temple of Jerusalem, where the coronation ceremony of the young king of the Holy City Jerusalem is held. "God save the King", shouted the actors involved in the scene in the interior of the temple, while the decoration assistants spread out hundreds of kilos of sand opposite the cathedral, so to convert the streets into authentic streets of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, security guards had to ensure the surroundings to make sure that no fans and press enter. The streets around the cathedral were blocked from all vehicles.

Ridley Scott, an artist

Ridley Scott alraedy knew the Cathedral of Avila, he had been there before, and so he knew about its majestic beauty. The British director discovered the Castle of Loarre (Huesca) while he had been searching locations to film his 1492 Conquest of Paradise. "Ridley Scott is more than a movie director, he is an artist and chooses the locations for every film he is making. When he finds a location he likes, but knows it will not serve him for the present movie, he might get back to it for a future project." The production team consists of about 350 people including technicians and actors.

In the scenes shot yesterday in the cathedral only two of the actors were present, Jeremy Irons and Eva Green, besides dozens of second actors and 150 extras, dressed up as soldiers, priests and noblemen. After filming the coronation scene inside the cathedral the extras went out to go on filming the entrance of the bishops, noblemen, dames and knights who had been called to assist the coronation.

Ridley Scott, behind the camera

During this shot which was repeated several times, Ridley Scott could be seen behind the camera, giving orders to his assistants to place the extras or asking the translators to tell the hundreds of actors who formed a row in front of the Cathedral to straighten their banners, talk among themselves, or come closer to the camera.

Dozens of schoolchildren and even groups of students at the University of Salamanca had decided not to attend their classes but come to see, if only for some seconds, Orlando Bloom, famous Legolas from the Lord of the Rings. Nevertheless, Orlando Bloom did not participate in any of the scenes which were shot inside the cathedral, although he had been shooting yesterday in the pilgrim camp near the celtic castle of Las Cagotas.

During the filming on monday, the actor Liam Neeson suffered a fall, which left a slight injury on his forehead. Some of the stunt doubles that replaced the main actors in the horse scenes were also lightly injured while shooting the riding scenes because of the uneven ground. The Celtic fort was the scene of the adventures of Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson, with his group of followers in the Crusades, when they pass by a camp of wanderers, they direct them to the Holy City.

Today the filming ends

Today, before leaving for Cordoba, the filming team will finish some interior shots of the cathedral, in which David Thewlis representing Saladin, a muslum prince, will appear. For this occasion, the interior of the cathedral had been changed once more.

The filming will take 17 weeks, as had been planned. After six weeks of intense filming in Spain, in the castle of Loarre, in Huesca, Segovia, and in Avila, the team of The Kingdom of Heaven will move on to Morocco, where the filming will be finished. Still, the team will have another three weeks in our country, filming in Cordoba, where the filming inside the mezquita has been forbidden, and in Palma del Río, from where they will set out for Seville in order to film in the Alcázar and in the Casa of Pilatos for another twelve days.

In Morocco, they are supposed to film for another 11 weeks in the desert of the Sahara, where the production has recreated the city of Jerusalem and where the major part of the cinematographic action will take place.

The astronomic cost of a super-production

Queen Douoghus stated that the total cost of this project "will be, as the rest, a secret" although he assured that the production is one of the most expensive super-productions of the north american company. The investment is calculated around a 100 million dollars.

After finishing in Avila, the team will move to the location Palacio de los Portocarreros in the surroundings of Granada. The movie is based on a novel written by William Monahan, which tells the story of a young blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) who finds himself involved in several conflicts that lead him to defend Jerusalem of an invasion of the "heathen", during the crusades of the 12th century.

Bloom, bastard son of Liam Neeson rejects the aspirations of his father to accompany him to the crusades and is imprisoned. A love story between Eva Green and Orlando Bloom is also included. In the Kingdom of Heaven appear other actors such as David Thewlis, Kevin McKidd and Juoko Ahoa.

Ridley Scott became famous with the direction of Alien, The eighth Passenger, Blade Runner and was awarded an Oscar as best producer for Thelma and Louise. His most recent and famous productions are Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Hannibal.