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Movie review: KING ARTHUR

by David Blackwell

running time- 130 minutes

starring Clive Owen (Arthur Castus), Keira Knightley (Guinevere), Ioan Gruffudd (Lancelot), Ray Winstone (Bors), Stellan Skarsgard, and Stephen Dillane as Merlin

written by David Franzoni

produced by Jerry Bruckheimer

directed by Antoine Fuqua

PLOT:  Arthur Castus and his Sarmatian knights do one more mission to gain their freedom from the Roman military and encounter the invading saxon hordes while Rome decides it is best for the Romans to leave Great Britain. That move leaves the people of Britain to the mercy of the Saxons unless a leader can step forward to lead them in battle.  This is a demystified take on the King Arthur tale set against the historical context of the times.

ANALYSIS:  KING ARTHUR is a new take on the myth of King Arthur as this time the premise is "What If King Arthur actually existed and you took away all of the myth". One does wonder if King Arthur actually existed or if the myths are based on a real person. The stories of King Arthur have been changed over the centuries by different authors (as names of people changed into the names in the Arthur mythos and characters were invented). Did Arthur exist or was he invented to fit the part of a historical tales that would turn into myth over the centuries as the details kept changing? This newest King Arthur movie left me with mixed feelings. I liked some thing about while I felt other things were found lacking.

The movie does draw some of the historical elements that eventually made up the myth of King Arthur while some of it is entirely drawn from the myths (that influenced the Arthurian mythos). The movie is your typical big budget Hollywood movie that even gets many of it's historical facts wrong. It may be closer to historical fact than the other takes on King Arthur, but it uses characters invented for the fictional tales of Arthur. The Romans withdrew from Britain decades before the events in the movie (It doesn't look like any Romans were in Great Britain by the late 5th century when the movie is set).

The problems with this movie are enough to fill up the Holy Grail. The movie has a lack of character development and you really see nothing of the deeds these knights are known for. Then there are only three battles and all you are left with is how King Arthur became king while Merlin is the tall and silent type. This movie only feels like the first half of what could have been a great movie instead of a good movie to pass the time during the summer. The Saxons and Romans were just generic characters and so were most of Arthur's knights (and the Brittons).

You think I hated the movie, but I can tell you what's good about it. It sports some fantastic cinematography, a good music score, and the movie is more authenic to the time period than any of the oher movies on King Arthur. The casting for Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Bors was great. I believed in the characters with what little the actors had to work with given the lack of character development in the script.

Everyone missed the boat with KING ARTHUR. It is an interesting take, but the poor script only makes this a good movie to watch (to pass the time) instead of a great movie that demands repeat viewing. KING ARTHUR is definitely a movie that fails with it's premise.

Sites for King Arthur:

http://www.britannia.com/history/h12.html

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/4186/Arthur/htmlpages/kingarthur.html

http://www.kingarthursknights.com

http://www.mun.ca/mst/heroicage/issues/1/halac.htm

http://www.mun.ca/mst/heroicage/issues/2/ha2lac.htm

http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artgue/guestsheila2.htm

http://www.alanhassell.org.uk/artorius.html

Official Movie site: http://kingarthur.movies.go.com/main.html

this review (3.50) is (c)7-11-2004 David Blackwell. This review cannot be reprinted without permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia