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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 »
Reviews
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

Zack Snyder said that this is his favorite movie. See more »

Goofs

When Lancelot is injured and Merlin heals him, Guinevere holds Lancelot's hand up close to her but in the next shot, their hands are resting on his body. See more »

Quotes

Merlin: Now look, I once stood exposed to the Dragon's Breath so that a man could lie one night with a woman. It took me nine moons to recover. And all for this lunacy called, "love", this mad distemper that strikes down both beggar and king. Never again. Never.
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 iCarly: iStart a Fan War (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude to Parsifal
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

 
Excellent battle scenes. Well worth seeing.
13 September 2001 | by Mike AstillSee all my reviews

John Boorman's semi-adaptation of La Morte D'Arthur may come as something of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, as the usually glamorised and fanciful tale is furnished in grimly realistic fashion. The armour, weapons and castles all look very authentic, and indeed it is in the battle sequences that the film excels, especially due to the stirring music selected to accompany each pivotal scene.

Purists will doubtless find plenty to frown and ‘tut' about, but doing justice to the Arthurian legends in film is a monumental task and Boorman delivers a true classic. Acting is fine, although dialogue is shouted more than spoke, and delivered with all the subtlety of a flanged mace. Nicol Williamson stands out in particular as the creepy Merlin, but it's fun to see Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson paving their ways to future stardom.

Of course, if the film has any reputation at all it is with its vicious battle scenes, which are still gory even today. They are, it has to be said, very welcome, because without the depictions of desperate, hand-to-hand battle, you might start comparing it with First Knight – which would be something close to sacrilege.

My older DVD copy looks fine but sounds a bit tinny, so it's with some annoyance I see there's a special edition out now, which presumably has had the full restoration work done on it. If you haven't seen Excalibur but have an interest in the subject (and hated First Knight), you should certainly give it a try.


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