Sword & Sorcery Cinema Season
Long ago, ambitious King Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) sought to unite the warring factions of The Land, and to do so employed the help of an ancient magician, Merlin (Nicol Williamson). Merlin helped Uther recieve the magical sword, Excalibur from the Lady in The Lake, but Uther was undone by his own lustful nature.
Plunging the blade into a stone after being ambushed by his enemies, Uther set in motion a chain of events that would become legendary. Years later, Arthur (Nigel Terry), Uther’s lost son pulls the sword from the stone to become king, and fulfils his destiny. It will be up to him, and Merlin to see the realms of England united, but in the shadows, plotting, lurks his sister, Morgana (Helen Mirren) who will visit ruin upon Arthur and the land alike…
Adapted from Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485) by director John Boorman and screenwriter Ropso Pallenberg, yet taking influences from other sources, such as Tristan and Isolde, earlier tales of Arthur such as those by Chrétien de Troyes, and other myths and legends surrounding Arthur and his various swords (Excalibur is not the sword in the stone for several of these. That is instead a different sword, though Mallory conflates the two). While the film does a disservice to older myths, it has itself become a mythologised text now being seen as a definitive story.
It is epic in scope and glorious to look at, as Boorman paints with light, colour and shade, his work given fantastic life by the score. The music is a mixture of classical works, notably Wagner’s Siegfried’s Funeral March, the prelude to Tristan and Isolde, and the prelude to Parsifal, with Carl Orff’s wonderful Carmina Burana playing several times, and an original score by Trevor Jones which all seem to match seemlessly to give a rich, portentious personality to the film. Read the rest!