The use of real ships allows the film to pay particular attention to detail even though Admiral Graf Spee was portrayed by the American heavy cruiser USS Salem, which is considerably greater in tonnage, 100' longer, and quite visually distinct from the German Pocket Battleship (in bow, shearline, and having 2 forward triple turrets instead of the single turret of the Deutschland-class cruisers). This includes the warning bells ringing before each salvo, the scorching on the gun barrels after the battle, and the accurate depiction of naval procedures. The film depicts Admiral Graf Spee and Altmark using the complex procedure of alongside refueling; actually the Germans used the slower but safer method of astern refuelling, but the alongside method is much more dramatic for film purposes, and by 1955 was standard procedure for the British ships involved (see list above). Similarly, although the scene when Harwood meets with his captains on board Ajax is fictional, it was created for the movie in order to explain the tactical situation to the audience. The battle is seen from the perspective of the British ships, and that of the prisoners captured from nine merchantmen and held in Admiral Graf Spee.
Each member of the Cullen family has a piece of jewelry featuring the same symbol. This isn't in the books, and it's never fully explained in the movies, but the symbol is largely agreed to be the Cullen-family crest.
Bree Tanner is one of the vampires created to form Victoria's army. She appears to be younger than others in the army, and the movie shows a small glimpse into her vampire life. The Cullens, seeing that she is young and not a threat, offer to help her rather than kill her during the battle, but the Volturi kill Bree right when they arrive.
For the 100 years leading up to the action, both Christians and Muslims were content to see each other worship in the holy city. It was only when Christian zealots determined to control the Holy Land more rigidly that things went wrong. The movie takes place circa 1184, as the city is ruled by the young King Baldwin (Edward Norton), who has leprosy and conceals his disfigured face behind a silver mask. Balian takes control of the city after the death of its young king. Then the Knights Templar, well known from The Da Vinci Code, wage war on the Muslims. Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) leads a Muslim army against them, and Balian eventually surrenders the city to him. Much bloodshed and battle are avoided.
What Scott seems to be suggesting, I think, is that most Christians and Muslims might be able to coexist peacefully if it were not for the extremists on both sides. This may explain why the movie has displeased the very sorts of Muslims and Christians who will take moderation as an affront. Most ordinary moviegoers, I suspect, will not care much about the movie's reasonable politics, and will be absorbed in those staples of all historical epics, battle and romance.
The movie is above all about the personal codes of its heroes, both Christian and Muslim. They are men of honor: Gentlemen, we would say, if they were only a little gentle. They've seen enough bloodshed and lost enough comrades to look with a jaundiced eye at the zealots who urge them into battle. There is a scene where Baldwin and Saladin meet on a vast plain between their massed troops, and agree, man to man, to end the battle right then and there. Later, one of Balian's pre-battle speeches to his troops sounds strangely regretful: "We fight over an offense we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended." Time for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission? 2b1af7f3a8