Excalibur (1981) Poster


Nicol Williamson: Merlin



  • Merlin : STAND BACK! Be silent! Be still!... That's it... and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' For it is the doom of men that they forget.

  • Merlin : When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.

  • Arthur : Swear faith to me, and you shall have mercy! I need battle lords such as you!

    Uryenes : [scornfully]  A noble knight swear faith to a squire?

    Mador : NEVER... NEVER!

    Arthur : You are right.

    Arthur : You're right... I'm not yet a knight.

    [Hands Excalibur to Uryenes and kneels] 

    Arthur : You, Uryenes, will make me a knight. Then as knight to knight... I can offer you mercy.

    Merlin : [Alarmed]  What's this? What's this?

    Mador : Keep it, Uryenes!

    Uryenes : [hesitates and then touches Excalibur to Arthur's shoulder]  In the name of God, St Michael and St George, I give you the right to bear arms and the power to mete justice!

    Arthur : That duty I will solemnly obey, as knight and king.

    Merlin : I never saw this.

    Uryenes : Rise... King Arthur.

    [Uryenes kneels before Arthur] 

    Uryenes : I am your humble knight, and I swear allegiance to the courage in your veins. So strong it is, its source must be Uther Pendragon's. I doubt you no more!

    [kisses Arthur's hand - other knights also kneel] 

  • [Arthur has broken Excalibur on Lancelot's chest] 

    Arthur : Merlin! What have I done?

    Merlin : You have broken what could not be broken! Now, hope is broken.

    Arthur : My pride broke it. My rage broke it! This excellent knight, who fought with fairness and grace, was meant to win. I used Excalibur to change that verdict. I've lost, for all time, the ancient sword of my fathers, whose power was meant to unite all men... not to serve the vanity of a single man. I am... nothing.

  • 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.

  • Arthur : [of Lancelot]  Will he live?

    Merlin : Oh, yes.

    Arthur : Will Guinevere...?

    Merlin : Yes.

    Arthur : Merlin, will I ever have a son?

    Merlin : Yes.

    Arthur : No riddles? Nothing but a simple "yes"? That frightens me.

    Merlin : But a King should be afraid, Arthur, always... of the enemy. Waiting, everywhere. In the corridors of his castle, on the deer-paths of his forests, or in a more tangled forest... in here.

    [taps his head with his finger] 

  • Merlin : The future has taken root in the present.

  • Merlin : You brought me back. Your love brought me back. Back to where you are now. In the land of dreams.

    Arthur : Are you a dream, Merlin?

    Merlin : [softly]  A dream to some.


    Merlin : A nightmare to others.

  • Merlin : Look into the eyes of the dragon and despair!

  • Merlin : Good and evil, there never is one without the other.

  • Merlin : Looking at the cake is like looking at the future, until you've tasted it what do you really know? And then, of course, it's too late.

    [Arthur takes a bite] 

    Merlin : Too late.

  • Uther : The sword. You promised me the sword.

    Merlin : And you shall have it; but to heal, not to hack. Tomorrow, a truce; we meet at the river.

    Uther : Talk. Talk is for lovers, Merlin. I need the sword to be king.

  • Arthur : Rise, Father, please. I was your son before I became your king; if I am King.

    Sir Ector : You are king, Arthur; the more so because you are not my son, and I am not your father.

    Arthur : Not my father? Then Kay is not my brother?

    Sir Ector : Merlin the magician brought you to me when you were newly born, and bade me raise you as my own. At first, I did so because I feared Merlin, but later because I loved you.

    Arthur : Who is my true father?

    Sir Ector : Only Merlin can tell you that.

    Arthur : And who is Merlin?

    Merlin : [enters suddenly from the forest]  I... am the Merlin.

    Arthur : Whose son am I?

    Merlin : You are the son of Uther and Igrayne. You are King Arthur!

  • Morgana : Your eyes never leave me, Merlin.

    Merlin : Can't I acknowledge beauty?

    Morgana : Can't you acknowledge... love? Perhaps you ache for what you've never known.

    Merlin : Perhaps you lust for what you cannot have.

  • Merlin : Remember, there's always something cleverer than yourself.

  • Uther : [Uther is dying after being ambushed]  Nobody shall wield Excalibur but me!

    [drives Excalibur into the stone as he dies] 

    Merlin : [casting a spell]  He who pulls the sword from the stone... *he* shall be king!

    [looking at the infant Arthur] 

    Merlin : You, Arthur; you're the one.

  • Arthur : Where hides evil in my kingdom, then?

    Merlin : Always... where you never expect it. Always.

    Gawain : I know where.

    Arthur : Where, Sir Gawain?

    Gawain : I cannot say.

    Arthur : You must speak your heart. You sit at the Round Table. Where is this evil?

    Gawain : He's our best... and our bravest... why, then, is he never here? Without Lancelot, this table is nothing! Is there anyone here who doesn't think him a god? And now to be driven from us

    [points to Guenevere] 

    Gawain : by a woman's desire!

    Guenevere : In the idleness that comes with peace, I see that gossip has bred its own evil! I will forgive your hasty words. Come... drink from Lancelot's cup, and partake of his 'goodness'.

    [the cup is passed to Gawain, who proceeds to slam it upside-down on the table in defiance of Guenevere] 

    Arthur : You DARE accuse the Queen, Gawain?

    Gawain : I do!

    Guenevere : I protest my innocence!

    Arthur : [standing up and drawing Excalibur threateningly]  WERE I NOT KING, I WOULD MAKE YOU PAY WITH YOUR LIFE FOR WHAT YOU'VE SAID!

    Guenevere : Will you not champion me?

    Arthur : I cannot! I am your King, and I must be your judge in this. Lancelot must do it. He also stands accused. I decree - that at sunrise, two days from now, the champions will meet, and the truth shall be known. For by the law of God, no knight who is false can win in combat with one who is true.

  • 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...?

    Merlin : Do nothing. Be still. Sleep. Rest in the arms of the Dragon. Dream.

  • Arthur : Merlin, where are you going?

    Merlin : Where do you think? You have a kingdom to rule.

    Arthur : But how? I don't know how.

    Merlin : You knew how to draw the sword from the stone.

    Arthur : That was easy.

    Merlin : Was it? I couldn't have done it.

    Arthur : You couldn't?

    Merlin : You're the King. Not I.

    Arthur : But where to start?

    Merlin : Well what do think happened since you ran off.

    Arthur : Sir Ector and Kay. They must be waiting all this time. All the great Knights were against me except for Leondegrance of Camelyard. If he supports me, the Knights are all against him.

    Merlin : Right now they lay siege to his castle.

    Arthur : I need him. We must help him.

    Merlin : There you are. That was easy too. Wasn't it?

  • Merlin : You're not listening... well, your heart is not. Love is deaf as well as blind. That's it.

  • Uther : Where have you been?

    Merlin : I have walked my way since the beginning of time. Sometimes I give, sometimes I take, it is mine to know which and when!

    Uther : You must help me, Merlin!

    Merlin : Must I?

    Uther : I am your King!

    Merlin : So! You need me again now that my truce is wrecked! Years to build and moments to ruin! And all for lust!

    Uther : For Igrayne! One night with her. You don't understand, you're not a man. Use the magic. Do it!

    Merlin : [considering]  Igrayne... You will swear by your true Kingship... to grant me what I wish, then you shall have it.

    Uther : [kneeling]  By Excalibur, I swear it!

    Merlin : What issues from your lust, shall be mine. Swear it again!

    Uther : I SWEAR IT!

  • [Uther and Cornwall meet] 

    Merlin : Show the sword! Behold! The Sword of Power! Excalibur! Forged when the world was young, and bird and beast and flower were one with man, and death was but a dream!

    [to Uther] 

    Merlin : Speak the words!

    Uther Pendragon : One land, one king! That is my peace, Cornwall!

    Lord Cornwall : Lord Uther, if I yield to the Sword of Power, what will you yield?

    Uther Pendragon : Me yield?

    Merlin : He has given, now you must.

    Uther Pendragon : The land from here to the sea shall be yours if you enforce the King's will!

    Lord Cornwall : Done!

    Merlin : [to himself]  Good.

    Lord Cornwall : King Uther, let us feast together! To my castle!

  • Arthur : Do you still have the Sight, Merlin? Are they together?

    Merlin : Yes.

    Arthur : You warned me of this, all those years ago. What must I do now... Kill them?

    Merlin : I can tell you nothing. My days are ended. The gods of once are gone... forever. It's a time for men. It's your time, Arthur.

    Arthur : I need you now... more than ever.

    Merlin : No. This is the moment that you must face at last. To be King, alone.

    Arthur : And you, old friend? Will I see you again?

    Merlin : No. There are other worlds. This one is done with me.

    Merlin : [Arthur embraces Merlin, then walks away; Merlin stares off into the twilit sky then quietly says]  That's it.

  • Arthur : Which is the greatest quality of knighthood? Courage? Compassion? Loyalty? Humility? What do you say, Merlin?

    Merlin : Hmm? Ah. Ah. Ah, the greatest. Uh, well, they blend, like the metals we mix to make a good sword.

    Arthur : No poetry. Just a straight answer. Which is it?

    Merlin : All right, then. Truth. That's it. Yes. It must be truth above all. When a man lies, he murders some part of the world. You should know that.

  • Uther : Merlin! You come when you're not asked, and pay no heed when I call you!

    Merlin : Oh, I have slept... for nine moons. What I did for you wasn't easy. Now, you must pay me. The child is mine, Uther... you swore an oath.

    Uther : They were hasty words, Merlin. This is flesh and blood!

    Igrayne : Uther, is this true? Don't let him take the child!

    Uther : I swore an oath, Igrayne. I made a pact with Merlin.

    Igrayne : It was you; *you* came to me that night! YOU ARE THE FATHER!

    Uther : To kill and be King... is that all?

    Merlin : Perhaps not even that.

    Uther : You strike me with words hard as steel!

    Merlin : You betrayed the Duke. You stole his wife. You took his castle. Now, only fools trust you; now, only a fool would. You're not the one, Uther. Give me the child; I will protect him.


    [Igrayne bursts into tears] 

  • Merlin : The days of our kind are numberèd. The one God comes to drive out the many gods. The spirits of wood and stream grow silent. It's the way of things. Yes... it's a time for men, and their ways.

  • Merlin : It is a lonely life, the way of the necromancer... oh, yes. Lacrimae Mundi - the tears of the world.

  • Merlin : Ooh, that plan is well known. You'll have to do better than that.

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