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.
The quintessential King Arthur movie!
This movie is absolutely tremendous. Held my attention the entire time. I have seen the others, from the 1950s Knights of the Round Table, to First Knight, even the recent Mists of Avalon, and this is the best of the bunch. Brutal at times, then again, the story takes place during the Dark Ages. Anthropologists don’t know too much about the historical Arthur, except from early English and Welsh texts based on oral legends of a Celtic chieftain named Arthur, who lived around 600 AD, and who fought a famous battle.
This story delivers great performances, sets and battle scenes. In the scene in the beginning where Uther becomes king, as witnessed by Merlin, we can see the look of disgust and pity on his face as knights get their arms chopped off! Merlin has worked for years to arrange peace in the kingdom and the moment is at hand, the dawn of a new Golden Age…although it will be Arthur, not Uther, who ushers this in, and it lasts all too briefly. Merlin is played by Nicol Williamson in an outstanding performance! He is comic, wise, and very, very, deadly if you cross his path. The best on-screen Merlin I have ever seen. Arthur is the true hero whose all too human capacity for love gets the best of him and threatens to leave the kingdom in the clutches of the vile Mordred. Morgana, as played by Helen Mirren, is a stunning combination of beauty and evil. The other cast members round out this great film: Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne. The sets are astounding, dark foreboding man-made castles contrasted against lush green forests reflecting a lost time when the forces of nature, not man, dominated the earth. See this film! Easily John Boorman’s best picture to date.