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Excalibur (1981)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Fantasy  |  10 April 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 44,117 users  
Reviews: 339 user | 82 critic

Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the round table of Camelot even as forces conspire to tear it apart



(book), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicholas Clay ...
Robert Addie ...
Keith Buckley ...
Niall O'Brien ...


The myth of King Arthur brought once again to the screen. Uthur Pendragon is given the mystical sword Excalibur by the wizard Merlin. At his death Uthur buries the sword into a stone, and the next man that can pull it out will be King of England. Years later Arthur, Uthur's bastard son draws Excalibur and becomes king. Guided by Merlin, Arthur marries Guenivere and gathers the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur's evil half-sister Morgana sires a son with him, who may prove his downfall. Written by Greg Bole <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


No mortal could possess it! No kingdom could command it! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Knights  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 2,986,757 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


All the forests shown in this movie are a mile away from director John Boorman's home in Ireland. See more »


Full plate metal armor was not invented until about the year 1350, and not used in Europe until much later than that. Numerous such anachronisms (use of stirrups, weaponry) can be excused as being faithful to Sir Thomas Malory's book, which followed 15th-century conventions of making historical characters behave in a contemporary way. See more »


Arthur: Merlin, where are you going?
Merlin: Where do you think? You have a kingdom to rule.
Arthur: But how? I don't know how.
Merlin: You knew how to draw the sword from the stone.
Arthur: That was easy.
Merlin: Was it? I couldn't have done it.
See more »


Spoofed in Xcalibur: The Lords of Sex 2 (2007) See more »


Prelude to Tristan and Isolde
by Richard Wagner
Specially recorded by London Philharmonic Orchestra (as The London Philharmonic Orchestra)
Conducted by Norman Del Mar
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Excellent battle scenes. Well worth seeing.
13 September 2001 | by (Isle of Man, British Isles) – See all my reviews

John Boorman's semi-adaptation of La Morte D'Arthur may come as something of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, as the usually glamorised and fanciful tale is furnished in grimly realistic fashion. The armour, weapons and castles all look very authentic, and indeed it is in the battle sequences that the film excels, especially due to the stirring music selected to accompany each pivotal scene.

Purists will doubtless find plenty to frown and ‘tut' about, but doing justice to the Arthurian legends in film is a monumental task and Boorman delivers a true classic. Acting is fine, although dialogue is shouted more than spoke, and delivered with all the subtlety of a flanged mace. Nicol Williamson stands out in particular as the creepy Merlin, but it's fun to see Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson paving their ways to future stardom.

Of course, if the film has any reputation at all it is with its vicious battle scenes, which are still gory even today. They are, it has to be said, very welcome, because without the depictions of desperate, hand-to-hand battle, you might start comparing it with First Knight – which would be something close to sacrilege.

My older DVD copy looks fine but sounds a bit tinny, so it's with some annoyance I see there's a special edition out now, which presumably has had the full restoration work done on it. If you haven't seen Excalibur but have an interest in the subject (and hated First Knight), you should certainly give it a try.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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When Uryens knights Arthur... jimicapone
Things You Learned from watching Excalibur Darth_Ferior
Looks dubbed to me Noelle W Dempsey
Morgana! DarkBat1939
Extended cut Darcsyde01
If they do the remake, you know who could make a great Merlin ... TheGingerReview
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