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King Arthur (2004)

Antoine Fuqua

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#1 Diane

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 01:39 PM

Well, it's obvious that a lot of people here are fans of the Arthurian legend. I'm sure you've heard about the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced King Arthur, which is currently in production. It's supposedly based on Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur and is touted as presenting the legend in a more historical and factual light. Hmmm, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't seem to remember Guinevere wielding a sword, an axe, a bow and arrows, etc. Rumor has it she'll be fightin' up a storm in this film.

This leads me to my question: Are there any wothy movie adaptations out there about King Arthur? I've been tempted to get Excalibur from my library, but the Conan the Barbarian-like picture on the cover was, uh, off-putting and I've heard bad things about First Knight.



#2 SDG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 01:55 PM

Excalibur is an interesting pastiche of Arthuriana, which to be fair more or less reflects the disparate nature of the Arthurian materials, but more succeeds, I think, in being an interesting movie about Arthurian legend than in being a specific story or interpretation of the figure or legend of Arthur.

I recently caught the 1953 MGM Knights of the Round Table starring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner. Mostly a showcase for CinemaScope, it's conventional and a bit stiff, but ultimately turns out to be a fairly sturdy and enjoyable cover of Malory, with the love-triangle presented in a way that puts everybody in just about the best possible light and is accessible to family audiences (I watched it with my eight- and five-year-old kids). Not a great movie by any means, but worth catching. The Christian angle is really hyped, too, especially in the very last scene.

First Knight sucks. Out loud.

I've never seen the musical Camelot version, or the MZB-based Mists of Avalon (but HATED the book).

My favorite 20th-century BOOK versions of the Arthur legend are White and Mary Stewart, whose wonderful Merlin Trilogy + Mordred would make a lovely miniseries.

#3 etpetra

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:01 PM

Someone doing Arthur movies is like someone doing, well, Lord of the Rings movies. It's really easy to do a crappy job. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Rankin Bass.)

First Knight is certainly not in my top ten list. My memory of the movie is pretty vague (blissfully), but the Guinevere/Lancelot thing, I never really appreciated the way movies handled that, like it was this great romantic thing, all beautiful and flowery. From what I remember (haven't read anything on the topic in a few years) Lancelot was pretty tortured about it, no? There was a little bit of guilt/worry on the part of the two lovers, but it really was just lip service. Like, "We know they should feel bad, so here's a shot of Julia Ormond crying. Ok, now back to the passion and romance! Woo!" And Arthur was played by Sean Connery. Who'd cheat on Sean Connery? for Richard Gere??


As far as this newer movie goes: http://www.murphspla...hur/arthur.html (It looks to be a fansite for the forthcoming movie you referred to, DRose -- scroll down a bit and there's a link to Kiera Knightly talking briefly about her role as Guinevere.)

edited because URLs and tags confound me

#4 teresakayep

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:16 PM

My favorite 20th-century BOOK versions of the Arthur legend are White and Mary Stewart, whose wonderful Merlin Trilogy + Mordred would make a lovely miniseries.



Oh, the Stuart books certainly would amek a wonderful miniseries. Much better than anything based on Mists of Avalon, which I also hated, could be. Her books show that you can take a different point of view without making those who are traditionally viewed as heroes seem like villians--something many writers of these "feminist" retellings seem unable to understand (Don't even get me started on The Red Tent.)The Once and Future King should definitely be required reading for anyone interested in a relatively modern retelling of the Arthurian legend.

I liked Excalibar quite a bit, and I think SDG's comments on it are accurate. It also has lots of nice visuals--worth seeing.

I liked Camelot, though I prefer the stage version. I don't really evaluate Camelot as a version of the Arthur story as much as I evaluate it as a musical. As an Arthurian story, it's okay, but as a musical it's great fun. Lots of fun songs that I often find myself humming.

Of course, Monty Python gave us my own favorite take on the Arthur legend. laugh.gif

I'm afraid of anything with the Bruckheimer name on it--I can't imagine the damage he'd do to Arthur. :xyxnervous:

--Teresa

#5 Darrel Manson

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:20 PM

In Camelot there is a scene as Arthur ponders what to do about Gwen and Lance that comes straight from Hosea. Also don't forget Disney's The Sword in the Stone.

#6 Overstreet

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:33 PM

Doesn't Rohmer have a film about Lancelot?

#7 SDG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:44 PM

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
Doesn't Rohmer have a film about Lancelot?
Don't know, but I forgot to mention the movie version of Gawain and the Green Knight, which starts very promisingly and goes rapidly downhill.

#8 M. Leary

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:44 PM

Yes. Percival is considered by many to be one of his best. It is definitely where you see him and Bazin in full cinematic disagreement, for its production values are decidedly Hollywood.

Okay, don't shoot me for this in case I get it wrong. But I am pretty sure it comes from a 12th century Arthurian work. I can't remember the provenance, Arthur is not my strongsuit by any stretch of the imagination.

But it is not straightforward Medieval re-enactment at all. It is highly stylized.

#9 SDG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:47 PM

M Leary, you don't get shot today. Rohmer's Percival is indeed from Chr[this would be an e with an acute accent if I had html]tien de Troyes, which means you're in the right time period and everything.

#10 M. Leary

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:50 PM

"Chrétien de Troyes' unfinished Count of the Grail"

Ah. Just found it and posted at the same time as you. I am going to watch it tonight and report back (provided it is checked in).

#11 SDG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:52 PM

Alan W wrote:
As in Chrétien? (note the lack of HTML)
That is cheating and is unfortunately not supported by Internet Explorer for Macintosh.

#12 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 03:18 PM

You can write é as:

é

regardless of platform. Other international characters can be written similarly.

Dale

#13 BethR

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 04:07 PM

First Knight is the Arthurian movie that medievalists love to hate. I don't mind a anachronisms in a medieval movie with a sense of irony or humor--love Monty Python & the Holy Grail, thought A Knight't Tale was a hoot--but First Knight is so grimly EARNEST, and everyone is so dashed COLOR-COORDINATED. And those stupid cross-bow pistols are the last straw!

The Once and Future King is probably the best modern book based on Malory. I find I always tend to read Malory now through the lens of White, even though I probably shouldn't. I don't like Camelot as much as I did when I was 13, however. The music is good, but as a film, most of it just doesn't hold up well.

Excalibur is also crammed with anachronisms, but it's so beautifully archetypal, and so effective, that almost no one cares, beyond occasionally wondering how the poor knights slept in their armor, which they never seem take off.

#14 SDG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 04:57 PM

M. Dale Prins wrote:
You can write é as:

é

regardless of platform. Other international characters can be written similarly.
Of course you can, I do it all the time. The point is, on this board, if I try to write Chrétien's name that way, it will come out "Chrétien," because this board doesn't render special characters.

However, it turns out that I am wrong about the "é" character written as such not translating properly between IE for Mac and IE for PC. I know there are some special characters that don't, but this appears not to be one of them, for I am on my Mac now.

#15 SDG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 09:00 PM

Speaking of King Arthur...

#16 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 11:02 PM

teresakayep wrote:
: I'm afraid of anything with the Bruckheimer name on it--I can't imagine
: the damage he'd do to Arthur.

He's producing, but I believe the director is Antoine Fuqua, who started out making boilerplate action films like The Replacement Killers but was also the director responsible for Denzel Washington's Oscar-winning performance in Training Day; his most recent film was the Bruce Willis / Monica Bellucci war movie Tears of the Sun.

Darrel Manson wrote:
: Also don't forget Disney's The Sword in the Stone.

Based on The Once and Future King, if I'm not mistaken -- I remember watching my copy of this DVD not long after seeing X2: X-Men United, which makes a couple of references to that book.

#17 teresakayep

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 12:48 PM

FYI, the Learning Channel is airing a documentary on the real King Arthur this week:

http://tlc.discovery...ins/arthur.html

--Teresa

#18 SDG

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 01:07 PM

If it's the Discovery Channel doc I've seen before, I remember it being not bad.

#19 Nick Alexander

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:02 PM

Am I the only one who's read (okay, most of ) Steven Lawhead's Pendragon Trilogy? Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur. A greater emphasis of Christian overtones, but strong enough to stand on its own in the secular market. Good poetry in there too.

In terms of films, I saw Excalibur once, _years_ ago, and remembered how beautiful it was. Considering buying the DVD for some time now, but haven't quite gotten the urge to do it--need to see it again on cable or rent it.

Nick

#20 Diane

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:13 PM

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. I'll definitely look past that tacky cover (which has since been updated, so my library's copy must be very old) and check out Excalibur. I should be able to grab it this week.

Alas, no cable...or I'd look into that Arthur documentary, too.