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King Arthur - The Director's Cut (Widescreen

Military & War movie directed by Antoine Fuqua

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Not derived from a farcical aquatic ceremony after all, then

  • Feb 28, 2005
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When you think about it, what is the collective conception of the Arthurian legend?

Well, it's a myth, for one thing, and an achingly Pre-Raphaelite one at that: a sword magically buried in the stone; the lady of the lake holding aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water; the ambivalent wiles of Merlin, a magician who has slept under a rock for a hundred years; a Merovingian Easter-egg hunt for the Holy Grail; the nasty skulduggery of Merlin's sister Morgana Le Fay; and finally the illictly, tragically requited love between Guinevere and Lancelot. All good, stirring stuff, if you like that kind of thing.

Now imagine how it would play if you took all of that away and were told instead that Arthur was a stony-faced Roman Centurion, his knights a band of cockney-sounding eastern European slaves (shades of an anarcho-syndicalist commune, I couldn't help thinking), Merlin a hairy, daubed (literally!) savage, and Guinevere a sort of skimpily attired, malnourished, blue, Xena Warrior Princess?

Doesn't sound much chop, does it?

And nor is it. (Well, all right, the skimpy warrior princess bit isn't *all* bad). It's not helped by less-than-imaginative borrowing from Braveheart, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Black Hawk Down, and the Lord of the Rings instalments, nor the wheeling in of yet another member of Clannad to sing the theme tune, nor the credulity-taxing back story involving Sarmatian knights who, with Ray Winstone in their midst, sound more East London than East Europe.

Fundamentally, the Arthur story is only interesting as romantic myth. Thus, David Franzoni's justification of the film's historical accuracy on this site misses the point: La Morte d'Arthur is a great story; King Arthur: The Director's Cut is not. By purporting to take all the hocus pocus away, Franzoni has jettisoned anything of any real interest or point (unless you're prepared to see this as some sort of allegory for the Iraq War and, frankly, I'm not).

King Arthur ultimately can't hold a candle to Excalibur, and even that reading must pay fealty to the greatest exploration of the Arthurian legend of them all. Graham Chapman's remains the definitive Arthur, with or without the violence inherent in the system.


Olly Buxton

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More King Arthur (2004) reviews
review by . May 26, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
I thoroughly enjoyed "King Arthur." Sure, we can all haggle over history (or legend, as the case may be) but what this film boils down to is that it is an action yarn that's littered with historical and legendary tidbits about one of the greatest legends of our time, King Arthur. Clive Owen takes up Excalibur as our hero this time, and he leads a group of Samatian knights against the Woads and then the Saxons to set his people free. Galahad, Tristan, Gawain and others ride with Arthur and face death …
review by . December 08, 2005
Yes, there have been lots of "King Arthur" films but most of them focused on the same story. They all had Guinevere fall for Lancelot and vice versa with both of them betraying their loyalty to Arthur. Here you get a fresher Arthur story that was never told before. Lancelot obviously loves Guinevere but she loves Arthur and not him. He knows this and he never gets too close to her. He mostly just steals looks at her. In this film you know Lancelot is too loyal to Arthur to go with his feelings for …
review by . January 25, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I missed this in the movies and so waited eagerly for its release in the DVD. I love a good epic, on film or in print, the closer to the way things really might have been, the better. And I think this version of King Arthur fulfills that criterion quite nicely. The real Arthur remains an historical mystery but, as others have commented here, his origins may fairly be found in the history of Romanized Britain as the Romans were withdrawing to leave their mixed Celtic and Roman subjects to the mercy …
review by . December 23, 2004
If gore, and dialogue like "aargh" and "oomph", and impossibly far flying arrows, and tense battle scenes of masses of Saxons against a mere few Knights is your cup of tea, then KING ARTHUR is bound to please.    Director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day", "Tears of the Sun") has restudied the King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable legend and found the origins in 5th Century Rome vs Briton occupation. The result is less a visit to the Camelot of Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere …
review by . December 12, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
KING ARTHUR attempts to do what very few Arthur movies have done before. The movie attempts to take the legend out of the Arthur story and place in within a semi-historical context. The story the movie tells takes place towards the end of the Roman Empire (in fact, just about 25 years prior to Rome's actual fall) and just prior to the beginning of the Dark Ages that will sweep over most of Europe. Artorious Castus (Clive Owen), otherwise known as Arthur, is the leader of a special group of knights …
review by . October 19, 2004
This movie was a lot better than I thought it would be. Though I always thought of King Arthur as belonging to a later period, this movie does a decent job of capturing a much earlier period in history where Rome still ruled most of Europe.    Arthur and his men had been promised to be allowed to retire from "military" life are called back for one more mission. They need to rescue a nobel held captive. Though none of them want to do it, the knights loyal to Arthur will do it …
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Olly Buxton ()
Member Since: Sep 26, 2009
Last Login: Dec 22, 2010 09:37 PM UTC
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It's got a round table, some knights, and a noble warrior who rises to become King Arthur, but everything else about this revisionist legend is pure Hollywood. That's not such a bad thing if you enjoyedRob Roy,Braveheart,Gladiator, andTroy, and there's some intriguing potential in presenting the "real" Arthur (played by Clive Owen) as a 5th-century soldier of Rome, assigned to defend Roman-imperial England against a hoard of invading Saxons (led by Stellan Skarsgård in hairy villain mode). As revamped history and "archaeological findings" would have us believe, Guinevere (Keira Knightley) is a warrior babe in face-paint and Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) is a nonentity who fades into the woodwork. Never mind! Best to enjoy the harsh, gloomy atmosphere of Irish locations, the ruggedness of Owen and his hearty supporting cast, and the entertaining nonsense of a Jerry Bruckheimer production that strips battle-ready Guinevere down to leather-strap S&M gear while all the men sport full-body armor. Hail to the queen, indeed!--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Antoine Fuqua
Genre: War
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: David Franzoni
DVD Release Date: December 21, 2004
Runtime: 142 minutes
Studio: Touchstone / Disney
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