The Best and Worst of King Arthur Movies - Sarah Woodbury

The Best and Worst of King Arthur Movies


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While we’re on the subject of King Arthur, which of course, we always areexcept when we’re talking about Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, I thought we could talk King Arthur movies.   Since I’ve ranted about the King Arthurs I don’t like to read about or watch (, 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:

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.”