Thursday, 29 April 2010

Arthurian Cinematic Orthodoxy, a Dissenting View

(hat-tip to Brian, landlord of The Frothy Friar)

A certain section of the blogoweb consider John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur to be the quintessence of Arthurian cinema. People who misguidedly subscribe to this school of thought have obviously never seen the Richard Thorpe's 1953 epic Knights of the Round Table (starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, and Stanley Baker (Lt. Chard from "Zulu") as Mordred).

Richard Thorpe's showcasing of Technicolour tabbards and classically trained actors > Boorman's love letter to chrome and Vaselined lenses.

And that's all I have to say on the matter... other than:

(second-best Arthur film ever)


  1. All I ever needed to know about having sex with strippers whilst wearing plate armor I learned from Excalibur. Otherwise, I don't like it much, really.
    I've never seen Knights of the Round Table.

  2. For me, Excalibur has not aged well. (Or maybe I should say, "like me . . .")

    The last time I tried to watch it I couldn't finish the movie because my eyes kept rolling up as much from boredom as anything else.

    And I just remembered that long, drawn-out ending. [shudders]

  3. While I can't speak to Thorpe's film (which I didn't even know existed till now), I will agree with you that Excalibur is overrated. I won't quite go so far as to compare it to Conan the Barbarian, as it bears a greater resemblance to its source material (and I don't want to inspire yet another round of discussion of the 1982 film), but, like Milius's effort, I think a lot of gamers/geeks laud it more than it deserves simply because it's a fantasy film from their youths that isn't wholly execrable.

    I don't hate Excalibur but I don't love it either and still await a genuinely definitive cinematic take on the Matter of Britain.

  4. No love for the Clive Owen epic?

    I jest.

  5. Down with Excalibur haters! That said, Knights of the Round Table is a perfectly good film, even if it reassigns the Grail Quest to post morte Arthur. :D

  6. Excalibur fails to capture any of the glory of the Arthur mythos. It seems to enjoy dwelling in squalor too much.

    Which, admittedly, is the opposite problem that most Arthur films have.


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