Saturday, 19 April 2014

Film Review - Excalibur

This was one of my favourite films as a youth, not only that, it also provided my introduction to Karl Orff's Carmina Burana (along with the Old Spice advert, but this is better). It's been many years since I last watched this and while it has aged somewhat it remains an excellent film to watch. It also has a number of known actors that I didn't really know about at the time who are now household names - watching Patrick Stewart strut his stuff in plate armour is as entertaining as it sounds :-)

It's an epic tale based on the Arthurian legend and a dam fine one at that. The story is filled with stand out characters and each are a joy to watch. Arthur starts as a bumbling squire who becomes a just king, Merlin (who's voice is great) is the sorcerer who tries unite the people with their land. Helen Mirren does a fantastic job as Morgana seeking revenge for the deception of her mother. The tale is dark one and the film shows this.

I mentioned that it has aged, this is most obvious with the special effects. There's also a theatrical and over dramatic feel that adds to the dated feeling, although I quite liked that. The music is great, the pacing is spot on and all in all I really enjoyed watching this again.

Raised by Merlin, young Arthur draws the mystical sword of Excalibur from the stone and becomes King. He grows to manhood and with his wife Guenevere and first knight Lancelot unites the country and founds the Knights of the Round Table. An epic battle between the knights of good and evil decides the fate of Camelot.

Click here to purchase Excalibur from Amazon (and it's a fantastic film)


  1. I saw this again recently too. I agree, still loved it but pure nostalgia helped. I did notice the somewhat over the top dialogue and drama and the weird delivery of some lines, but it all weaves a great tapestry anyway. I was glad to come across it again and spent a nice Saturday evening reliving the epic saga of Arthur and Merlin!

    1. It is a bit odd in places, but as you say that adds to its charm.

  2. What an impact this film had on me as a teen!!!

    OK, there was Helen Mirren and Cherie Lunghi, both never-prettier, both with no clothes on Seventies-style. OK, there was Wagner and Orff and that Amazing Plate Armour Rape Scene. But what the film really gave me was an innovative treatment of Malory and a crash-course in Jung. And did I mention Wagner?

    So many innovations in this movie: the Sword in the Stone being the same weapon as Excalibur, the Dragon and the Charm of Making, Merlin's nature as a world-traveller, his crystal cave (independently of Mary Stewart, I assume) and his banishment to dreams; the trippy Grail Quest and weird child-demon Mordred; the visual transition from rusty Dark Ages dinosaurs to glittering High Medieval paragons and back again; Lancelot as a wild-haired loon and Guinevere's heart-rending expression when, as an ageing nun, she produces the sword saying, "I kept it." And Wagner, of course: 'Siegfried's Funeral March' when Percival throws Excalibur back into the lake gives me goosebumps just IMAGINING how it sounds.

    Well played, Mister Boorman. Well played indeed, sir.

    1. Does it go "Annal nathrach, uthvas bethud, dochiel dienveh"??? That's how I remember it