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Based on the bestseller by Marion Zimmer Bradley It tells the story of the women behind King Arthur; including his mother, Igraine; his half-sister, Morgaine; his aunt Viviane, the Lady of the Lake; and his wife, Gwenwyfar. Written by
The Mists of Avalon is a good story that unfortunately fails to work. At 183 minutes, it is too long, and yet the viewer is introduced to the large number of integral characters at a dizzying pace. It surely would have worked better had it been released as two movies, and the storyline slowed down somewhat.
Having said that though, the storyline is certainly exciting and involving. It is the story of the Court of Camelot and its ties to the mystic isle of Avalon, as recounted by the oft-maligned Morgaine Le Fay. It is set in ye olde Britain, where Christianity is gaining ascendancy over the ancient druid religion. In an increasingly desperate effort to keep the old ways alive, Viviane - the Lady of the Lake - shapes the destinies of Morgaine, Arthur, Gwenwyfar, Lancelot and the other familiar characters. But some of them begin to rebel at being moved around like pieces on a game board.
Why, in such a quintessential British story, were so many American actors used? They either speak painfully slowly in their attempts to sound English, or they use dreadful faux-British accents that frequently slip. And while Angelica Huston's accent is admirable, she is too strident and not ethereal enough as the Lady of the Lake. The thoroughly evil Mordred acts entirely with his eyebrows, and there are some abysmal performances in the minor roles.
Such a lavish production deserves better. The sets, scenery, and costumes are visually spectacular, but there are too many annoyances to distract the viewer. The 'mists' of the title are created through an overindulgence in smoke machines, and perhaps this is symbolic of the fact that in the wrong hands, a good story can become a bad film.
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