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Lancelot of the Lake (1974)

Lancelot du Lac (original title)
A million miles away from 'Camelot' or 'Excalibur', this film ruthlessly strips the Arthurian legend down to its barest essentials. Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving ... See full summary »


Robert Bresson

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Luc Simon Luc Simon ... Lancelot du Lac
Laura Duke Condominas Laura Duke Condominas ... La Reine (The Queen)
Humbert Balsan Humbert Balsan ... Gauvain
Vladimir Antolek-Oresek Vladimir Antolek-Oresek ... Le Roi (The King)
Patrick Bernhard Patrick Bernhard ... Mordred (as Patrick Bernard)
Arthur De Montalembert Arthur De Montalembert ... Lionel
Charles Balsan Charles Balsan
Christian Schlumberger Christian Schlumberger
Joseph-Patrick Le Quidre
Jean-Paul Leperlier Jean-Paul Leperlier
Marie-Louise Buffet Marie-Louise Buffet
Marie-Gabrielle Cartron Marie-Gabrielle Cartron
Antoine Rabaud Antoine Rabaud
Jean-Marie Becar Jean-Marie Becar
Guy de Bernis Guy de Bernis


A million miles away from 'Camelot' or 'Excalibur', this film ruthlessly strips the Arthurian legend down to its barest essentials. Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving and greedy men who, just before the film starts, have failed miserably to find the Holy Grail. Aimlessly resentful at first, the developing relationship between Lancelot and Queen Guinevere focuses their rage, leading to inevitable tragedy... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance | War


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France | Italy



Release Date:

31 May 1974 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Lancelot of the Lake See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 64603 delivered on 15-5-1974. See more »


When the knight is stabbed in the gut, the blood is visibly coming from the sword instead of the wound. See more »


Referenced in The Duellists (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

85 minutes I will never get back. I mourn them.
7 January 2008 | by jontrelivingSee all my reviews

I watched this film as part of a degree module on Arthurian legend in my final year of university. Looking back, I now know this is the sort of film made only to torture students of literature and film.

Seven years on, I still remember with clarity the iron force of will I had to bring to bear to sit through the full length.

Having studied Brecht, I know that entertainment need not always be entertaining. Sometimes, Brecht told us, theatre must and can be used as an instrument of social commentary, and employed his famous 'alienation effect' to remove the popcorn munching bourgeois from their comfort zones. Even so, with Brechtian theatre one is moved by emotions other than pleasure, such as anger or a desire to correct a perceived injustice.

What did I take away from this movie, other than a sense of soul-deadening boredom, and a sense of valuable time forever lost? At first, nothing. Nothing at all. It was not only a bad film, it was my first ever experience of anti-cinema, an exercise of such profound arrogance and pomposity as to numb the senses. I felt utterly unmoved in every way. Emotionally. Intellectually. Spiritually.

The anger came later. I was angry that more than a single frame of celluloid had been wasted in the creation of the unpolished lincoln log that is "Lancelot du Lac".

Bresson has done for cinema what L Ron Hubbard's earlier pulp novels did for science fiction (which were at best, embarrassingly amateurish nonsense), yet like Hubbard, he has inexplicably been deified by a small but influential group of people who are under the bizarre impression that he actually had something valuable to contribute to the 'zeitgeist'.

But nonetheless, I still think it should be shown in film schools. Why? I paraphrase a very useful piece of pop wisdom. "Nothing is completely useless. It can always serve as a bad example."

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