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 ...
See full summary »
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
Arguing that "Mists" (either the book or the film) is not "true" to Arthurian myth is quite meaningless. As Ms. Bradley says in the book, there is no such thing as a "true" story, only perspectives, with the truth lying somewhere betwixt them. There are many "versions" of the Arthurian myth, plenty of which are pre-Christian in origin. Bradley's book is a masterful retelling of Arthur's story from a unique perspective. Dismissing it as "feminist revisionism" simply demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the subject and close-mindedness.
Anyway, back to the mini-series...
I think that any adaptation can be judged on two levels. First, does the adaptation faithfully convey the source material? Second, barring success on the first point, does the adaptation work in and of itself, separate from the source material?
I feel that TNT's "The Mists of Avalon" fails on both counts.
First, the movie has little, if anything, to do with the book. Other than the title and the general idea (Arthur's tale told from the perspective of the female characters, primarily Morgaine), there's really very little of the book that survives the transition. There are wild departures from the plot, characterizations are vastly different, and one of the crucial elements of the book, the presentation of the Old Faith, is really given short shrift. You half expect Viviane to ride in on a broom and make people grow warts.
Second, as a film independent of the source material, "Mists" is just plain not a very good movie. I was initially excited by the casting, but their actual performances are quite middling. Margulies' accent is atrocious, and her performance unremarkable. Allen is practically "twirling her mustache" throughout the film. Houston is passable at best. The rest of the cast are generally unremarkable, though I will say that Samantha Mathis turns in a good performance as Gwenhwyfar, matching the spirit, if not the letter, of Bradley's book. The actors who play Morgaine and Arthur as children, though given little screen time, are also fairly good.
Visually, there are moments when the film is impressive. The costume design, though not really matching the book's descriptions in any way, does a god job of capturing the "Romanized Celt" look of the period. Still, there are also moments when, despite the reputed $20M budget, the film looks quite "cheap." More thoughtfulness and less CG might have helped.
In all, it is unfortunate that screenwriter Gavin Scott (or the studio execs who sign his paycheck) felt the need to so drastically re-write Bradley's work. The novel has sold millions of copies and been translated into numerous languages. Why Scott felt the need to so mercilessly tamper with what was obviously a proven, successful story is beyond me. It is an audacity I see quite often in Hollywood, and I still don't understand its allure.
TNT's "The Mists of Avalon" will disappoint all but the most forgiving Bradley fans, and will ultimately be remembered as yet another bad fantasy film. Give this one a pass, and go read the book instead.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?