I’m bumping this post because I’ve just discovered that a new King Arthur movie is in the works. Now, King Arthur always provides good fodder for story-telling, but I’m not so sure about this: http://moviehole.net/201257625men-in-tights-writer-turns-his-attention-to-spoofing-king-arthur
The title of the article says it all, but here’s a quote: “J.D Shapiro wordsmith of “Robin Hood : Men in Tights”, will take the Mickey out of the Knights of the Roundtable in a future feature … In 524 AD, Arthur Lol Pendragon went to Camelot. One thousand, four hundred and eighty five years later this footage was found. What it reveals is both shocking and more shocking. We have discovered that, out of all the legendary tales told about King Arthur and his knights… not one of them got it right.”.
I think I’m terrified …
While we’re on the subject of King Arthur, which of course, we always are, except when we’re talking about Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, I thought we could talk movies. Since I’ve ranted about the King Arthurs I don’t like to read about or watch (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/the-fictional-king-arthur-rant/), how many King Arthur movie depictions have there actually been? And how many have been done well?
Here’s the list from Wikipedia of straightforward King Arthur movies:
- Parsifal (1904)
- Launcelot and Elaine (1909)
- Il Re Artù e i cavalieri della tavola rotonda (1910)
- Parsifal (1912)
- The Quest of the Holy Grail (1915)
- The Adventures of Sir Galahad (serial) (1950)
- Knights of the Round Table (1953)
- Parsifal (1953)
- The Black Knight (1954)
- Prince Valiant (1954)
- The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (serial) (1956)
- Lancelot and Guinevere (1963)
- Siege of the Saxons (1963)
- The Sword in the Stone (1963)
- Camelot (1967)
- Arthur of the Britons (1972)
- Gawain and the Green Knight (1973)
- Lancelot du Lac (1974)
- The Legend of King Arthur (BBC TV series, 1979)
- Perceval le Gallois (1979)
- Parzival (1980)
- Excalibur (1981)
- Parsifal (1982) (a film version of the performance of the Wagner opera by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg)
- Camelot (a videotaped stage performance of the musical, presented on HBO) (1982)
- Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1984)
- Les Chevaliers de la table ronde (1990)
- Ginevra (1992)
- Guinevere (1994)
- First Knight (1995)
- Prince Valiant (1997)
- Merlin (1998)
- Quest For Camelot (1998)
- The Mists of Avalon (2001)
- King Arthur (2004)
- Merlin’s Apprentice (2006)
- The Last Legion (2007)
- Pendragon: Sword of His Father (2008)
- Merlin and the War of the Dragons (2008)
- Merlin and the Book of Beasts (2009)
I’ve seen very few of them, as it turns out. In reading the list, I realized that I found that the movie I liked best was the 2004 King Arthur version where he’s Roman. The history was bad, and it was a vehicle for Keira Knightly to fight a battle wearing next to nothing, but . . . I still kind of liked it. The fact that Modred and Morgan le Fay were entirely absent may have had something to do with it.
I tried to watch First Knight when it came out, and then quite recently on Netflix. I couldn’t cope with it, though normally I’ll watch Sean Connery in anything. This is the ‘classic’ tale (meaning French) to which I object the most. Everyone dies in the end.
I can’t believe Quest for Camelot is on this list. My kids liked it.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court has it’s own category, as it deserves, further down on the web page. I remember liking it as a kid. If you haven’t read the book by Mark Twain, you’re missing out.
Colin Firth is apparently in The Last Legion, which has a score of 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m requesting it from Netflix, because, honestly, with that description how could I not?
Excalibur is also the ‘classic’ tale with the even worse addition of Mordred as Morgana’s and Arthur’s son. Horrible.
Painfully, I watched Avalon High. It does have Castle’s daughter, Alexis, as the cheating girlfriend.
Don’t get me started on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. My son made me change one of the descriptions in Cold my Heart because it was too close to a line from the movie and he couldn’t read it without laughing. It’s ruined everything 🙂
I’d love to know how many of these movies you all have seen–and what you thought?
As a side note, this is my favorite King Arthur book:
Avalon by Stephen Lawhead. There are thousands of books about King Arthur, but this is one of the few that was actually fun. Hint–he doesn’t die in the end Publisher’s Weekly liked it too: “In this rousing postcript to Lawhead’s bardic Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail), such a monstrous evil stalks near-future Britain that an ancient Welsh prophecy will be fulfilled: the Thames will reverse its course, Avalon will rise again from the cold gray sea and Arthur will return.
A series of Royals so rotten that the Brits can’t wait to dump the whole stinking lot enables scheming Prime Minister Waring to creep trick by political dirty trick toward Magna Carta II, the abolition of the monarchy. Far in the Highlands, though, former career officer James Arthur Stuart feels destiny stir within him. He is Arthur, come again to exalt Britain and its grand old values: goodness, compassion, mercy, charity and justice. Accompanied by his enigmatic adviser Embries, his boon drinking buddy Calum McKay and the lissome Jenny, James struggles to come into his own, proving his mettle against modern monsters: skinheads armed with pit bulls, the fickle hydra of the press and the redheaded “total dish” Moira, Arthur’s old witchy nemesis who destroyed Camelot. By the time James ousts Moira’s insidiously treacherous buffalo-wing- and pizza-chomping politicos, Lawhead makes even aristocracy-phobes want to stand up at the skirl of the pipes and cheer on the eternal virtues James represents.
In revisiting nearly every romantic Arthurian clich? and playing off snappy contemporary derring-do against the powerful shining glimpses of the historical Arthur he created, Lawhead pulls off a genuinely moving parable of good and evil.”