The tale of King Arthur has been told numerous times on film, so much to the point where the story has become redundant. There have been many adaptations over the years, and only one film tried to take the source material of King Arthur in a more serious light. That film is 1981’s “Excalibur”, a movie that treats its source material in an adult manner, while bringing light to the swords and sorcery genre of film. Though there are a few technical problems with the film, it is still quite entertaining. “Excalibur” takes a unique twist of the King Arthur legend by keeping the viewer interested at all times.
The story is your standard King Arthur fable. Arthur (Nigel Terry) finds the sword Excalibur in the stone, and becomes the king of England. Except the writers of the movie go a bit further. After Arthur gets the sword, we then take a look at what happened while Arthur was king. Arthur is wise, powerful, and violent to get his way; Arthur uses his nobility as king to make sure that his legacy will live on for future generations.
“Excalibur” is executed well in its production that excels in various ways. The story takes a simple approach to an already famous piece of fiction, and presents itself in a very adult manner that is understandable. What this means is that the film offers a lot of violent content, almost to the point of being gory, strong thematic elements, and sexual acts that are suited for the adult mind. The acting is really good and there are a few surprise actors who would later have future success like Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, and Liam Neeson. But where the movie truly shines is in its production design.
The movie has some excellent cinematography as shown in the lighting and set departments. Everything is well lit and sets look amazing for what was accomplished. The costumes fit the time period of ancient medieval England. The armor on the male actors particularly shines through, as they look unique and it is interesting to find out that they wear their suits of armor throughout the entire movie. The battle scenes are really played out well, and the fight choreography is still quite amazing. “Excalibur” is a great medieval movie that stands out on its own.
However, there are some problems with the movie. The music has a classical feel to it, which is nice, but an original soundtrack would have better. John Boorman, best known for his 1972 film “Deliverance”, could have done a better job, and let someone else handle the film, because the direction he put here, is a little odd for a fantasy flick. Finally, the pacing can get incredibly slow at certain parts in the movie.
In conclusion, “Excalibur” takes a unique adult approach to the legend of King Arthur and makes it something worth watching for your entertainment.