King Arthur And Stuff: The ’81 “Excalibur”

Cover of "Excalibur"

Cover of Excalibur

A man of limited taste, director of Deliverance and Hope and Glory, John Boorman released in 1981 a King Arthur movie, Excalibur.  Much of the acting, when it isn’t indifferent (Helen Mirren as Morgana, Paul Geoffrey as Perceval), is loud and showy (Nigel Terry as Arthur).  Withal, the film is cheap and exaggerated, with second-rate music.

The scenery is ravishing, however, and there are delicious medieval-fantasy costumes and set design.  As well, Excalibur can be intriguing:  Nicol Williamson plays Merlin, an amazing magician in Christian England, a man whose day is passing along with the old gods (or simply the dark arts?)  But I wish Boorman’s film had something to say; frankly I would rather see Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac, weak as it is.


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