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I first saw this in a theater when it came out, when I was too young to
be seeing it. Thus, it went a bit over my head, I thought. I couldn't
really put it together and it made almost no impression on me at all.
So when I thought about it again recently I figured I'd try watching it
now that I'm grown. It was evidently supposed to be an excellent film;
the 7.4 rating here indicated it couldn't be horrible.
It's not horrible, but it does suffer from really bad and stilted
writing leading to campy over-acting from actors I know for a fact are
excellent actors. I still love Patrick Stewart and Helen Mirren in
anything I see them in, this film included. But I got the impression
the director wanted the actors to all channel Shakespeare and though
they tried courageously, the script failed them miserably. It didn't
make any impression on me back then because, well, there was no good
impression to make.
Its music is not even its own, which for a film of this size and scale
would be unthinkable today. If there is any original music in it, it's
barely noticeable. I thought this would have been a perfect vehicle for
John Williams, but he was busy on Raiders of the Lost Ark at the time.
I wonder how much better this film would have been if he'd scored it.
It sounds as if the entire movie was looped in-studio, and very badly.
It is wonderful to look at. The scenery is lush. The darkness and gore
are glamorous and the light and beauty are sparkling and lovely. It was
fun spotting the younger bit-players, some of whom are now huge,
international stars. I loved a young Liam Neeson as a drunk Sir Gawain
in the accusation scene at the round table. I appreciate Nicol
Williamson's attempt to insert humor into a character who was not
written particularly humorously. Charley Boorman was an appropriately
creepy-looking little dude at that age. Helen Mirren is, of course,
gorgeous as always, but spends a good part of the film with her right
hand resting high on her left shoulder for some odd reason. Some of the
knights sport some truly bizarre hairstyles. I actually liked Nigel
Terry's and Paul Geoffrey's performances. But in the end I found myself
both wondering how much better Peter Jackson could have made this film,
and feeling very relieved that John Boorman's plans to film The LOTR
This film is interesting as it takes the Arthurian legend and breathes
new life into it.
You probably know the plot, but let's look at the elements- The acting
was quite good, with Nicholson as Merlin, Nigel Terry as Arthur. Actors
who would go on to distinguish themselves- Patrick Stewart, Helen
Mirin, Liam Neesom, in supporting roles.
I hated the Armor. Sorry, 15th Century full body armor had no place in
a legend of the Dark Ages… It just made the thing unrealistic.
The music- Wagner and Oorf. They both contributed the the "epic" nature
of the film.
This film is based on Mallory, so it essentially reflects Mallory's
ideals of knighthood and chivalry that never existed outside of an
ideal… but what does?
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