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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
Extremely Poor 'Adaptation' Totally Misses The Mark
This TV mini-series is an extremely poorly written exercise, one that utterly subverts the point of the novel on which it is based. And please do not think that I am some fanatical devotee of the book -- I found that it had plenty of flaws, but at least it had a point. This hack job misinterprets or leaves out just about every important aspect of the book.
The story has been rewritten and greatly condensed, and I understand the need to trim things out in order to fit it into four hours. What is unforgivable is that screenwriter Gavin Scott has turned Bradley's novel on its ear. He's deftly disposed of almost all of the Pagan/Christian conflict, often making it seem as if the main threat to Avalon is the Saxon invasion. If you are not willing to portray the Christians as the ostensible bad guys in the piece, why even attempt to film this tale? And in order to simplify things for the audience, Joan Allen's Morgause is turned into a full-scale witch and evil doer. Apparently they felt the need to have someone to root against, but instead of making it the traitorous Arthur, his religion-addled Gwenhwyver and the turncoat Merlin Kevin Harper -- as it is in the book -- Morgause takes the blame for everything bad that happens here. It's a particularly gutless and feeble switch.
Having Morgaine find aid and help at the convent near the end of the film is a special slap in the face to anyone who understood the book. That Morgaine would take refuge under the auspices of the very forces of intolerance that she's been harried by throughout the story shows that no one involved in the production seems to have grasped the Church's critical -- and negative -- role in the book.
Leaving the destruction of the plot alone, the production values were nice enough -- some great capes! The casting was especially bad, though. Joan Allen as a teenager?!?! And Michael Vartan as Lancelot is quite poor -- this guy's supposed to be an irresistible man of action, but Vartan plays him as a dour and stony-faced simp. And who was it that gave that horrid dishwater-blonde wig to Samantha Mathis???
All in all, this is an amazingly distorted, poorly rendered version of the story as presented by Bradley. If the producers just wanted to make their own silly version of the Arthurian legend, why did they feel the need to buy the rights to Bradley's novel? They sure didn't film it.
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