Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/United Kingdom, 1981. Orion Pictures. Screenplay by Rospo Pallenberg, John Boorman, adaptation by Rospo Pallenberg, based on the book Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory. Cinematography by Alex Thomson. Produced by John Boorman. Music by Trevor Jones. Production Design by Anthony Pratt. Costume Design by Bob Ringwood. Film Editing by John Merritt. Academy Awards 1981. Cannes Film Festival 1981.
Exquisite retelling of the Arthurian legend, with this one based more on the Malory version (Le Morte D’Arthur) instead of the more popular Once and Future King by T.H. White. John Boorman uses endless amounts of visual trickery and Alex Thomson’s stunning cinematography to tell the tale of a kingdom that rises to full glory by the might of its ideals and is destroyed the minute those ideals are challenged. Nigel Terry is Arthur, the young squire who removes the fabled sword from the stone and becomes King of England, then marries Guenevere, and loses her heart to the handsome Lancelot. Meanwhile, his mentor Merlin (Nicol Williamson), a sorcerer, battles with the evil Morgane Le Fay (Helen Mirren) for the future of the nation. It’s a very mature version of the story, ripe with sexuality and treacherous relationships, thus is not particularly appropriate for the young, but its audacious visuals will please adults who might not be that turned on by the story itself. Features early performances by Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson.