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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » The Mists of Avalon (2001) » User review

Camelot as you've never seen it before

  • Aug 15, 2012
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Rating:
+3
The legend of King Arthur has gone through many, many permutations. The Mists of Avalon is probably one of the more unique. It tells the tale of Arthur through the point of view of the female characters. Overall, this movie works far better than most fantasy movies - certainly better than the current fantasy hit Game of Thrones.

The characters in this movie are complex and rich - or at least the female ones. Unlike most incarnations of Camelot, none of the female characters are one-dimensional. We see them suffer and cry, but we also see their strength. They're not whiners. Some of the women use sex as a tool of influence, but they never come across as whores. The actresses do a capable job portraying their characters, something that can't be said of all TV movies.

That said, the men are inherently less interesting. Arthur is a bit too callow. We barely meet the famous Merlin before he dies. Lancelot is eye candy. We don't get to know the other Knights of the Round Table at all. Mordred shows some complexity, but his character is sometimes overacted. I wouldn't say this undermines the movie too much, but it would have been nice if the movie spent a bit more time developing the male characters. Then again, at 3 hours long, this movie is already quite long.

It's worth noting how this movie uses sex. With so many strong female characters, sex inevitably comes up. This isn't a family friendly version of King Arthur. However, unlike, say, Game of Thrones, Mists of Avalon uses sex artistically, not crudely. The sex scenes are subtle but filled with emotion. I commend the director for smart choices.

My biggest critique of the film is that it doesn't have a well defined plot. The movie follows characters, not a story. I think it works, but it would have been nice to have had some sort of goal or threat giving some shape to the story. Viewers accustomed to action films will find Mists of Avalon boring.

Overall, I definitely recommend this movie for fans of fantasy movies. It probably has less resonance for viewers who aren't intimately familiar with Arthurian legend, but still has a lot for viewers who appreciate character development.

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About the reviewer
Dominic J Nardi ()
Ranked #79
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
About this product

Wiki

This adaptation of Marion Zimmer Bradley's sprawling and perennially popular book, whose retelling of the Arthurian legends focused on the role of powerful females, compresses a wealth of mysticism, family intrigue, and bloody swordplay into three hours. While the plot can meander slowly and can sometimes seem, well, mystifying, the work of three notable actresses holds the production together, and the numerous complications do eventually get resolved. As Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, Anjelica Huston endeavors to perpetuate the old religion as pagan Britain comes into contact with Christianity. The scheming Morgause, played to evil perfection by Joan Allen, conspires to her own ends. And Avalon priestess Morgaine, played by Julianna Margulies, travels the heroine's journey, overcoming tragedies, injustice, and all manner of obstacles in her duty to both "the goddess" and her younger brother, King Arthur. Although the action lags at times, the production is quite lavish for a made-for-television feature and the film is ultimately entertaining.--Robert J. McNamara
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