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King Arthur (2004)

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A demystified take on the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Director:

Antoine Fuqua

Writer:

David Franzoni
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1,851 ( 606)
4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Clive Owen ... Arthur
Ioan Gruffudd ... Lancelot
Mads Mikkelsen ... Tristan
Joel Edgerton ... Gawain
Hugh Dancy ... Galahad
Ray Winstone ... Bors
Ray Stevenson ... Dagonet
Keira Knightley ... Guinevere
Stephen Dillane ... Merlin
Stellan Skarsgård ... Cerdic
Til Schweiger ... Cynric
Sean Gilder ... Jols
Pat Kinevane Pat Kinevane ... Horton
Ivano Marescotti Ivano Marescotti ... Bishop Germanius
Ken Stott ... Marius Honorius
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Storyline

Based on a more realistic portrayal of "Arthur" than has ever been presented onscreen. The film will focus on the history and politics of the period during which Arthur ruled -- when the Roman empire collapsed and skirmishes over power broke out in outlying countries -- as opposed to the mystical elements of the tale on which past Arthur films have focused. Written by Scott Summerton

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Rule Your Destiny See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, a scene of sensuality and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK | Ireland

Release Date:

7 July 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

King Arthur: Director's Cut See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$120,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,193,907, 11 July 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$51,882,244, 21 December 2004

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$203,567,857, 31 May 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS (DTS HD Master Audio 5.1) (5.1 Surround Sound)| Dolby Digital (Dolby Digital 5.1) (5.1 Surround Sound)| SDDS (8 channels) (5.1 Surround Sound)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In David Franzoni's original script, the love triangle so central to the original myth between Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot was a major part of the plot, as it is in most filmic adaptations of the Arthurian legend (such as John Boorman's Excalibur (1981) for example). However, during his research for the film, director Antoine Fuqua came to believe that there was no truth to the love triangle aspect of the story and had Franzoni rewrite the script without it. See more »

Goofs

At one point, Guinevere is wearing a dress that has one shoulder bare, but in the next scene, the same dress has the opposite shoulder bare. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lancelot: [voiceover] By 300 AD, the Roman Empire extended from Arabia to Britain. But they wanted more. More land. More peoples loyal and subservient to Rome. But no people so important as the powerful Sarmatians to the east. Thousands died on that field. And when the smoke cleared on the fourth day, the only Sarmatian soldiers left alive were members of the decimated but legendary cavalry. The Romans, impressed by their bravery and horsemanship, spared their lives. In exchange, these ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits, not even the production company and studio bumpers, only the title. See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was originally envisioned and shot as an R-rated piece with corresponding graphic violence. However, after the picture had been edited, Disney executives demanded it be changed to a PG-13, hence necessitating a lot of effects work to remove the blood from the battle scenes. Additionally, a number of scenes were removed and rearranged, and some new scenes were added. In total, the Director's Cut runs roughly 15 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. These additions include:
  • the scene where young Lancelot () leaves his village in longer.
  • a scene of young Arthur () with his mother (), and then a scene where he discusses freedom with Pelagius () whilst he watches the young Lancelot arrive on the hilltop.
  • during the first battle, aside from the additional blood that was digitally removed from the theatrical version, numerous quick shots have been added. These include: Picts dragging Romans off their horses and killing them; a Pict slashing at a horse with his sword, causing it to fall; a Pict decapitating a soldier and holding his head aloft, only to be beheaded himself from behind; a Pict hit with an arrow; a Pict impaled on a spear; a Pict hit in the back with an arrow whilst trying to get to the Bishop; a scene of a Pict being hit in the eye with an arrow; a scene of Lancelot () decapitating a Pict by using his swords like a scissors; a scene of Bors () fighting with his 'gloved knives'; a scene of Bors stabbing a Pict in the throat.
  • after the battle, in the theatrical version, the fake bishop () has an arrow in his chest; in the Director's Cut, it is in his head.
  • a scene where the knights approach the real Germanius () with their weapons drawn, before realizing that all is well and sheathing them.
  • the conversation between Germanius and Arthur () is longer.
  • a scene of the knights toasting their fallen comrades at the Round Table.
  • a scene where Germanius visits the knights as they prepare to leave, and they show him their disapproval of the mission.
  • the Director's Cut does not contain the scene where the knights sit around a camp fire talking about their prospective lives in Sarmatia.
  • a scene where some dead soldiers are found on the side of the road.
  • a conversation between Lancelot and Guinevere () about England and the weather.
  • another conversation between Lancelot and Guinevere, this time at night, where they discuss family and faith. The scene ends with Lancelot telling her he would have left her in the dungeon.
  • the first conversation between Merlin () and Arthur has been edited differently with different takes used.
  • an aerial shot of Hadrian's Wall
  • a scene where Dagonet () is buried.
  • a scene of Bors sitting at Dagonet's grave, getting drunk.
  • the sex scene between Guinevere and Arthur is in a different place in both versions of the film. In the theatrical version, Arthur is seen in full battle armor, examining the broken image of Pelagius, when he is alerted that the Saxons are heading towards Hadrian's Wall. He runs outside, but when he appears, he is hastily putting on his shirt, and his hair is disheveled, thus creating something of a continuity error. The sex scene follows this scene. In the Director's Cut however, after the conversation between Arthur and Guinevere where they discuss his morality, they begin to have sex only to be interrupted with the news of the Saxons. The scene then cuts to Arthur appearing on the wall, putting on his shirt. As such, the scene where he is examining Pelagius's image is absent from the Director's Cut. The scenes have been edited together differently as well, with the sex scene in the Director's Cut being slightly longer than the theatrical version.
  • a scene where Cynric () is demoted for his failure during the ice battle. His frustration is much to Cerdic's () amusement.
  • a scene of the knights leaving Hadrian's Wall amidst hundreds of small fires set by the Saxons.
  • the scene of the confused Saxons in the fog is longer, with more Saxons being chopped down, including one having his arm severed.
  • the scene of the sole Saxon survivor () running back to the Saxons is longer.
  • during the final battle, aside from the additional blood that was digitally removed from the theatrical version, numerous quick shots have been added. These include: a scene of a Saxon impaled by an ax in his chest; a scene of Guinevere stabbing a fallen adversary; a scene of a Saxon being stabbed in the throat; a scene of Guinevere stabbing a Saxon in his crotch; a scene of Arthur ramming his sword into a Saxon's throat; a scene of Gawain () being shot in the chest with an arrow and pulling it out; the scene of several female warriors overpowering a Saxon is much longer and more violent as the women begin to literally tear him to pieces; a scene of Tristan () slowly approaching Cerdic; a scene of Bors being stabbed in the back but continuing to fight; a scene of Ganis () fighting a Saxon inside the Wall; a scene where a Saxon is stabbed in the face; the battle between Tristan and Cerdic is longer and more graphic; the scene of Lancelot being wounded is in slow motion; the scene of Cerdic's death is longer and includes a new conclusion where he and Lancelot crawl towards one another and Lancelot stabs him through the throat; the fight between Cerdic and Arthur is slightly longer, with Arthur stabbing Cerdic a final time after Cerdic has whispered Arthur's name.
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Connections

References Babylon 5 (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Tell Me Now (What You See)
Written by Hans Zimmer and Maire Brennan (as Moya Brennan)
Produced by Trevor Horn and Mel Wesson
Performed by Maire Brennan (as Moya Brennan)
Courtesy of Universal Music International
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I cannot respect King Arthur...
26 December 2004 | by friedman-8See all my reviews

I did not hate this film. It was fairly entertaining, with well-staged battle scenes and high production values. The acting, though often either overblown or slightly wooden, was passable, and Ioan Gruffydd was actually quite good.

What bothered me is that the text at the opening of King Arthur promised a portrayal of the "historical" Arthur, and then manifestly failed to deliver. For the record, there is no "historical" Arthur. There are scattered references in the works of Gildas and Bede to an Arthur, or an Aurelius Ambrosianus upon whom the legend of Arthur is based. There is a fairly detailed story of a King Arthur in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History, though most of this seems drawn from Welsh and Cornish folktales of the type later collected in the Mabinogion. There is, however, very hard evidence that there ever was a King Arthur, or battles of Baddon Hill and Celidon forest.

There was, however, an invasion and colonization of Britain by the Saxons and other Germanic tribes during the fifth and sixth centuries, following the Roman military withdrawal. And it is pretty clear that the native Celtic and Romano-Celtic population put up one hell of a fight, slowing but not stopping the Saxon invasions. My own opinion is that there is enough smoke to suggest that the Arthur of medieval romance probably had some kind of historical prototype (most legends of this type usually do: a "Dux Bellorum" (war leader) as named in Gildas, possibly this shadowy Aurelius Ambrosianus.

So, I had high hopes for the movie King Arthur. After all, the film had the time period right, and the context looked convincing enough. Unfortunately, rather than using the historical material and context, the filmmakers completely ignored them. There was no consistency to this movie, and anyone with even a passing knowledge of the history of the early middle ages (the so-called dark ages) will be more than irritated by the pretended historicity of the movie. Some examples: 1. The film suggests the late-imperial Roman government and policy was directed by the Church, through the Papacy. This is absolutely false. Although the Empire was staunchly Christian at this time, it was the Emperor and his court -- at Constantinople rather than Rome -- that set and executed policy. Bishops did not order armies around. In fact, the See of Rome at the time was a relatively weak power centre at the time, especially compared to the Bishops of Constantinople and Alexandria.

2. While it is true that the Romans enlisted soldiers and units from border tribes like the Sarmatians, they were never posted at the other end of the empire. This would have made no sense, since the whole point of the foederati was to create a buffer between the empire and the northern and eastern barbarians. The Sarmatian soldiers were typically posted in Sarmatia.

3. Arthur would never have known Pelagius who, though a Briton or Irishman by birth, was in Rome from about AD 405. He was condemned by the Church, but never actually excommunicated or convicted of heresy, and probably died in Rome in AD 420, around the time the "historical" Arthur was born.

4. By the fifth century, the Roman occupied part of Britain had been quite thoroughly Romanized. The population was mostly Romanized Britons, and NOT an ethnically British population under the boot of a few foreign, ethnically Roman aristocrats. While there certainly were non-Romanized Celts like the Wodes about, most of the Britain that Arthur would have been fighting to defend would have been populated by Christian Britons who though of themselves as Romans.

5. Bishop Germanicus, or St. Germain, was not a former Roman general. He was a former Gaulish lawyer.

6. Hadrian's wall was built not to keep the Britonnic Celts and Saxons out of Roman Britain. It was built to keep the Picts and Hiberni -- who were explicitly NOT Briton and in the case of the Picts, probably not even Celts -- out of Britain. It runs/ran from Solway Firth to the River Tyne and thus is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too far north to have had much to do with the "historical" Arthur.

7. While the Church in the fifth century was certainly militant (read St. Augustine for that), the portrayal of churchmen as murderous ascetics who tortured and sacrificed pagans is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, by this time, most of the population south of Hadrian's Wall had been converted to Christianity.

What troubles me is that there is no reason why the filmmakers should have played so fast and loose with history to make this movie. I understand creative license, but the way in which they claim historicity on one hand, and then create a nonsense fabrication on the other – to no end other than the fact that they just seemed to want to do it that way -- makes it very difficult for me to respect King Arthur. I can respect Excalibur; at least no one claimed that it was historical.


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