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Adventure in the Desert, Gloria (Croatia), April 9, 2004
By Branko Ssmen
scanned by Mirena, translated by Sina

Exclusively from Morocco

British director Ridley Scott and producer Branko Lustig, have taken the actors Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson to the shooting of "Kingdom of Heaven", with a budget of 130 million dollars.

The heavy, strong bars at the entrance of the fortress Ibelin have been open and hunters in crossed handcuffs, traders with camels, women, children, horses and goats have been waiting for the beginning of the shoot. Everything was ready for the shooting of the spectacular scene of the entrance of the brave knight Balian in Jerusalem, who will save the kingdom and save the forbidden love of the already spoken for princess in his heroic deed. Well now, an unexpected gust of wind, which has taken up the red desert dust, has interrupted the shooting. Director Ridley Scott has whispered something to producer Branko Lustig, and it was clear by the body language that an already proven team was working together. Nothing unusual, as "Kingdom of heaven" is the forth movie which the 72-year-old Lustig and the 60-year-old Scott have worked on together. They have before worked together on "Hannibal", "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down" and as the last two shootings have almost also taken place in the Moroccan desert, even the mysterious Sahara doesn’t surprise them anymore. "Ridley and me know each other perfectly, and that's the reason why we've become such good friends. It's easy for me to be a good producer to him as I know all that he needs in advance. . He just needs to look at me and I instantly know that something's fishy about the whole business. I'm too old to subordinate myself to another director and in particular I would never ever work with someone who has just started [directing]. With Ridley it's like being home, we are like brothers", says Branko Lustig, born in Osijek [in Croatia] who has already been living and working in Los Angeles for about 30 years and who has been honored with an Oscar for producing " Schindler's List" and "Gladiator".

Lustig and Scott have already called together experienced actors: the main hero Balian is played by Orlando Bloom, the star of "the Lord of The Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean", his father, earl of Ibelin is played by Liam Neeson, the deathly love of Balian, Sybilla is played by Eva Green and the role of Tiberis is played by Jeremy Irons. When the preparations for the shootings of "Kingdom of Heaven", a movie about adventure, characteristics and heroism, which takes place in the 12th century, Branko Lustig never had a doubt about the choice of the location. He remembered Morocco exactly because of the shootings of "Gladiator" and " Black Hawk Down".

Curious King

"The conditions to shoot are perfect here. I can freely choose how to organise the shooting, and beside of that, the prices of services in the film industry in Morocco are much better and taxes are much lower. That's one thing that couldn't be achieved in, let me say, Croatia. We pay an extra 18 dollars each day. In Morocco I have my partner Karim, with who I've already organised five projects. Thanks to him, I have managers here for the location and for the translation, an assistant who helps me in translating the correspondence into Arabic. I have put a crew together with who I can work without problems and I feel like being at home. I just do not speak Arabic and no terrorists have threatened us, like a British newspaper has written. I like Morocco very much, and I also like their king Muhammed, who you can talk to. He's even visiting the shooting. He comes by helicopter, which is flown by himself, lands discreetly somewhere and observes what's going on on the set", Lustig tells.

Even this time, Lustig has engaged some actors from Croatia, who have shown their abilities of acting in reconstructing the fortress Ibelin. She has even enchanted the main actor Orlando Bloom, who has arrived with a dirty face at lunch, which has been arranged in a tent on the set and the grandiouse costume of Balin. Bloom has told us that he got the part through an audition, which lasted 12 hours, but was only chosen after some trial shots. "I adore the costumes and scenery in which the action of the film is developing itself. I'm particularly glad to be able to work with Ridley, because only after you've come to the set, you understand what an amazing experience this movie is. I've always been attracted to historical movies, which encourages the member of the audience to think and cause many emotions, and I liked heroes like Lawrence of Arabia. The part of Balian has immediately fascinated me, because he's a tragic hero, well there are the circumstances which have made him act like this. Because only after he has lost his wife and child, he has the aim to rescue the people from Jerusalem." Orlando Bloom tells.

After a strenuous day in the desert, the members of the film crew have rinsed out their hair full of sand, changed into dark suits and drove to the expensive villa behind Ouarzazeta to the dinner which the governor of the region, Ahmed Malrgiech has given in their honor. Jeremy Irons has impressed native women by wearing traditional clothes and Bloom has been accompanied by his girlfriend, actress Kate Bosworth, who had visited him on the set for the weekend. After the formal dinner, with Moroccan specialties but without alcohol, the film crew has moved into a disco, which has been rented for them only this Saturday night, where they have awaited the first light of the new day dancing to hits of the seventies and eighties. Sunday, has been, fortunately a day off.

Article in Croatian