The myth of King Arthur (Nigel Terry) brought once again to the screen. Uthur Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) 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. Several years later, Arthur, Uthur's bastard son, draws Excalibur and becomes King. Guided by Merlin, Arthur marries Guenevere (Cherie Lunghi) and gathers the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur's evil half-sister Morgana (Dame Helen Mirren) sires a son with him, who may prove to be his downfall.Written by
Greg Bole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After casting his spell on Uther, Merlin turns toward the camera, showing the reflection of the cameraman and camera in his helmet. See more »
Now, once more, I must ride with my knights to defend what was, and the dream of what could be.
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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 »
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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