Consider this a spoiler warning for the whole post, if you still haven't seen The Kingdom. The people over at RopeofSilicon have found the time amidst all their holiday shopping to sit down and listen to Peter Berg's director's commentary on the upcoming DVD of the film and it contains some interesting reveals. According to Berg, the original script had a fascinating and very dark ending -- too dark for it to make it through to the shooting stage. Remember the character of Haytham, the Saudi policeman who gets beaten by the scary general early in the film, because the general suspects he was involved with the terrorist plot? Well, turns out the general was on to something. The original ending of the film, scrapped by Berg, comes after the death of Abu Hamza and all his goons. We see the team going to the airport and all the Saudi good guys they've met during their trip are there to say goodbye to them, including Haytham. Here's how Berg tells it:
"In the original draft, at this moment, when Jamie went to say goodbye Jamie hugged him and he realized that [Haytham] was carrying a bomb on him and the character of Haytham detonated the bomb and the entire team was killed and it was a very powerful ending. At the end we decided it was just too much." Boo. That would have been a much more powerful ending, and much more evocative of the cultural ambiguity that Berg tries to set up with his current ending. I wish they would have at least shot that ending so that we could see how it plays out in comparison, on the DVD perhaps.