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Excalibur (1981)

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Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the Round Table of Camelot, even as dark forces conspire to tear it apart.

Director:

John Boorman

Writers:

Thomas Malory (book), Rospo Pallenberg (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
1,755 ( 1,115)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nigel Terry ... King Arthur
Helen Mirren ... Morgana
Nicholas Clay ... Lancelot
Cherie Lunghi ... Guenevere
Paul Geoffrey ... Perceval
Nicol Williamson ... Merlin
Robert Addie ... Mordred
Gabriel Byrne ... Uther Pendragon
Keith Buckley ... Uryens
Katrine Boorman ... Igrayne
Liam Neeson ... Gawain
Corin Redgrave ... Cornwall
Niall O'Brien Niall O'Brien ... Kay
Patrick Stewart ... Leondegrance
Clive Swift ... Ector
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Storyline

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 <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

No mortal could possess it! No kingdom could command it! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Knights See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,519,706, 12 April 1981, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$34,967,437
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

United Artists told John Boorman that he could cast anyone as Merlin except Nicol Williamson. See more »

Goofs

Boom mike reflected King Arthur's armour. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Alternate Versions

The movie was originally put into theatrical release in 1981 as an R-rated film in the USA. Later there was an announcement of a PG rated version, but it was not widely released. The original R-rated cut is 140 minutes. Most home video versions are the R-rated version, but TV and movie channels show the PG cut, making the movie 119 minutes. The R-rated version features about 21 more minutes of graphic sex and violence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in There's Nothing Out There (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude to Tristan and Isolde
by Richard Wagner
Specially recorded by London Philharmonic Orchestra (as The London Philharmonic Orchestra)
Conducted by Norman Del Mar
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Operatic,mythic, retelling of Arthurian legend.
10 May 1999 | by coop-16See all my reviews

At different times in his illustrious career, John Boorman has announced that his intention to make film versions of both The Lord Of The Rings, and Wagners "Ring" cycle.Like Scorsese's plans to do film biographies of Gershwin and Robert Johnson, or Coppola's plans to make versions of Faust and Pinocchio, these grandiose projects have come to nothing. Fortunately, in Excalibur, we have something that comes close..VERY close. Boorman retells the Arthur legend in a way that evokes both the mythic power of Tolkien and the operatic splendor of Wagner.. ( Indeed, the sound track makes frequent use of Wagner.)Some have criticized Boorman for making the story of King Arthur too sexy and violent. Well, in their original , unexpurgated form, the Arthurian legends were just that. Boorman also looks at the Druidic and pagan roots of the arthur story, (" The Land is the King."), and examines the inner conflict between Paganism and Christianity that gave the myth its original power. A great film, and one of my personal favorites. I have not seen Robert Bresson's version of the Arthur myth, Lancelot Du Lac, but I suspect that it may be the only other one by a major film-maker that comes close to the eerie, mythic, glorious heart of Arthurian legend.


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