Excalibur is a 1981 medieval fantasy film directed by John Boorman (Deliverance and Zardoz) and is a retelling of Arthurian legend based on Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. The film was a lifelong dream for Boorman who had been fascinated by Arthurian legend and who had wanted to make a fantasy epic. Originally he had intended to direct a film based on J.R.R. Tolkien's mythopoeic fantasy The Lord of the Rings, but the script was met with ridicule and he couldn't find a studio to finance the film, so he then moved on to do a film inspired by European medieval history and the romance mythologies that form the crux of Arthurian legend.
The film was released in 1981 and was a moderate box office success despite opening in the top slot during its initial opening. The film received mixed critical responses with some hailing the film as the most complete depiction of Arthurian legend ever put on film and others criticizing the acting, the story, and the direction. Since it's release, the film has been regarded by some as a classic despite the fact that it wasn't embraced by all critics, audiences, or scholars of Arthurian legends.
The film starred Nigel Terry as King Arthur, Helen Mirren as Morgana Le Fay, Nicol Williamson as Merlin, and Nicholas Clay as Sir Lancelot. Many of the cast members, including Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Ciarán Hinds, and Patrick Stewart all went on to become famous and successful actors, and film maker Neil Jordan got his start on the film as a script consultant.
A proposed remake by Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures is currently in pre-production.
Arguably the most ambitious theatrical film to take on the Arthurian legend, director John Boorman's 1981 epic Excalibur is in reality something of a mess, but a beautiful one. I'm going to preface the rest of this analysis by saying that I intend to focus on the flaws because most of the reviews elsewhere on the internet tend to be favorable. Despite the fact that it was made on a relatively small budget, the film boasts glorious cinematography, impressive … more
John Boorman's epic classic of the "Dark Ages" needs no more accolades, but in serving repetition, his "EXCALIBUR" remains the supreme enactment of the Arthurian legend! Tennyson wrote in "Idylls of the King, The Passing of Arthur": "...To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath: Ah miserable, and unkind, untrue, Unknightly, traitor-heated! Woe is me! Authority forgets a dying king, Laid widow'd of the power … more
At times the acting pushes the envelope a bit, especially Nigel Terry in the title role. But Helen Mirren defines erotic evil as Morganna, while Cherie Lunghi is equally appealing as the fair wife of Arthur.Forget the Disney-fied versions elsewhere, this is a telling of the Arthurian legend that is faithful to the ages. The cinematography is first rate, and the musical score with selections from Carl Orff's Carmena Burana is perfect! Given that this version is 20 years old now, it's a blast to see … more