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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 »
2,414 ( 398)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
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


Forged by a god. Foretold by a wizard. Found by a king. 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)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Katrine Boorman and Cherie Lunghi did the nude scenes themselves without the use of a body double. See more »


When Lancelot is injured and Merlin heals him, Guinevere holds Lancelot's hand up close to her but in the next shot, their hands are resting on his body. See more »


Merlin: What are you afraid of?
Arthur: I don't know.
Merlin: Shall I tell you what's out there?
Arthur: Yes, please.
Merlin: The Dragon. A beast of such power that if you were to see it whole and all complete in a single glance, it would burn you to cinders.
Arthur: Where is it?
Merlin: It is everywhere! It is everything! Its scales glisten in the bark of trees, its roar is heard in the wind! And its forked tongue strikes like... like...
[lightning strikes near their feet]
Merlin: Whoa! Like lightning! Yes, that's it.
Arthur: How can I...? What should I...? Must I....
See more »


Referenced in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) See more »


O Fortuna
from Carmina Burana
by Carl Orff
Performed by The Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Conducted by Herbert Kegel
Courtesy of Polygram Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The quintessential King Arthur movie!
31 July 2001 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

This movie is absolutely tremendous. Held my attention the entire time. I have seen the others, from the 1950s Knights of the Round Table, to First Knight, even the recent Mists of Avalon, and this is the best of the bunch. Brutal at times, then again, the story takes place during the Dark Ages. Anthropologists don't know too much about the historical Arthur, except from early English and Welsh texts based on oral legends of a Celtic chieftain named Arthur, who lived around 600 AD, and who fought a famous battle.

This story delivers great performances, sets and battle scenes. In the scene in the beginning where Uther becomes king, as witnessed by Merlin, we can see the look of disgust and pity on his face as knights get their arms chopped off! Merlin has worked for years to arrange peace in the kingdom and the moment is at hand, the dawn of a new Golden Age...although it will be Arthur, not Uther, who ushers this in, and it lasts all too briefly. Merlin is played by Nicol Williamson in an outstanding performance! He is comic, wise, and very, very, deadly if you cross his path. The best on-screen Merlin I have ever seen. Arthur is the true hero whose all too human capacity for love gets the best of him and threatens to leave the kingdom in the clutches of the vile Mordred. Morgana, as played by Helen Mirren, is a stunning combination of beauty and evil. The other cast members round out this great film: Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne. The sets are astounding, dark foreboding man-made castles contrasted against lush green forests reflecting a lost time when the forces of nature, not man, dominated the earth. See this film! Easily John Boorman's best picture to date.

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