King Arthur is an adventure/drama film directed by Antoine Fuqua in 2004 which retells the story of Arthur. The movie takes place in Britain, around 500 A.D. Arthur, or Artorius Castus (played by Clive Owen), is a Roman commander of Sarmatian knights, an elite group of cavalry. To gain their freedom, and go home, the knights must complete one final mission: go behind enemy lines, and recover a young boy and escort him back to safety. On the way, they are attacked by Woads, the original inhabitants of Britain, led by a magician named Merlin. Meanwhile, the Romans are preparing to leave Britain, and the knights are left as the only defense against an oncoming horde of Saxon invaders.
With a stellar cast, King Arthur presents the legend in a whole new light. Clive Owen portrays a somber, yet compassionate Arthur, a great leader who cares greatly for his men and for the rights of people. He is aided in his cause by his closest friend, Lancelot, played by Ioan Gruffudd, ever the pessimist, always questioning Arthur, especially on his religious beliefs. Keira Knightley presents a new Guinevere, a woman both beautiful, strong, and independent, all which she shows when she picks up her bow for battle. These three and the other knights must face off against the Saxon horde, led by Cerdic, played by Stellan Skarsgard. Skarsgard portrays a rough and clever barbarian, calculating and ruthless, burning every village he conquers. He is the exact opposite of Arthur, and represents it well. All of the actors trained for the roles, which required learning styles of fighting, riding, and shooting. Their intensity in their roles and preparations make them completely believable in their roles.
King Arthur does not stray from the historical aspect of the time. The crew spent considerable time trying to be as accurate as possible on the details of the film. The armor of the knights is not the full suits you would expect, but mostly comprised of leather and mail, which were used in this period. The armor is more Roman than Medieval, and that is applied to the film in all aspects. The crew strives to be accurate in their depiction of the land, with Roman villas and small villages. They even taught the Saxon extras phrases to chant in the Saxon language when in battle.
In short, King Arthur spins a new take on an old classic, and it will keep you in the film to the end. With Fuqua’s directing skills, the film shows Arthur as more of an everyday man than a king, a leader not born, but made. The film chains together action, adventure, and drama, with a few laughs in between. The film’s strongest point is in its ability to connect with real people. The film shows us just what Arthur may have actually been, how history knows him, not as the legends would have us believe. It’s a must see for anyone who grew up swinging a sword around, wishing to be a knight.
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