A film about the legendary sword excalibur
As I promised in my previous post, on this occasion, I am going to talk about a great film, which I discovered at an early age, but could only understand as an adult. Excalibur, by John Boorman, 1981.
The film tells the legend of King Arthur, but from the point of view of the sword Excalibur. Something a bit difficult to notice, because it is an inanimate object, but also because of the film’s narrative that, at times, seems quite abstract.
The film is an adaptation of “The Death of Arthur”, by Sir Thuomas Malory.
As I already mentioned, I saw it for the first time when I was a child, without knowing much about the legend of King Arthur, and it was difficult for me to follow it.
Much later, when I was able to see the 1998 Hallmark miniseries, Merlin (I think it came to my country later), I was able to understand the basics of the story.
While researching for this article, I discovered that the script left out many elements of the original work, on purpose, to focus on the Arthurian legend’s relationship with the cycle of life. That would explain why I remember it being so cryptic the first times I watch it.
The adaptation also shows the Christian elements of the original version, but in a very veiled way. This, added to the armors that shine as if they were polished silver and the magic represented as a green light that bathes the metal of armor and swords, gives it an aspect of timelessness.
They shot the film almost entirely in Ireland. I recently watched it again and I noticed the appearance of actors who would later be very famous, such as Patrick Stewart (Captain Pikard, Professor Xavier), playing King Leodegrance, or Liam Neeson, who would recently triumph with the “Taken” saga.
But one actor I did remember (though not knowing his name until I researched for this article) is Nicholas Clay. He played a sexy Lancelot. This particular image had a great impact on me in my childhood:
Another sexy scene: Lancelot kissing Arthur’s sword:
For those who do not know the story, Lancelot is Arthur’s best friend, but a dark desire for the queen torments him until he and the queen give up to temptation.
When Arthur finally discovers the betrayal, he seems to lose his powers as a mythical king. His kingdom turns into a gloomy wasteland and the only salvation is to send the knights of the round table, to search for the Grail. This Grail, however, is not based on the Christian Holy Grail, but on the Celtic symbol of the magic cauldron.
It is worth mentioning, also the role of Merlin, very interesting, both for his interventions and for his striking outfit. Another interesting thing is his love-hate relationship with Morgana.
Another thing that I remember from my childhood is the rejection that the appearance of Mordred, the son of Morgana and Arturo, generated in me, because his parents were siblings but also because, literally, it produces a twist in the plot, right in the middle of the film that, at that time, I did not understand. But today I know that’s what really pushes the story forward.
When I watched it again, this scene moved me: Arthur defeats a political rival and demands that he recognize him as his king. But at that moment, Arturo is still a squire and his enemy refuses to recognize a squire as king. Then, Arthur hands him the sword and asks him to order him as a knight. An act of humility that touches his rival and us at the same time.
Another thing that touched me, that I only understood recently, is that the knight who manages to find the Grail, only does it, when he renounces his pride and only holds on to his hope. The film depicts this act of humility, in a scene where the knight falls into the water and all his armor detaches and falls to the bottom, allowing him to swim to the surface, where, coincidentally, he finds the castle where the Grail rests.
In short, an almost dreamlike movie, where magic permeates everything. Definitely a must watch!
Here the trailer:
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