Just saw it again recently, and I have to say, John Boorman’s 1981 swords-and-sorcery pic Excalibur holds up surprisingly well. Loved it in high school, and it’s still really good. Some of the effects are a little cheesy, and I wish they had a bigger budget for the final battle scene, but it’s still a great Arthurian epic with a terrific cast and awesome cinematography. Shiny armor, high ideals, torrid sex, triumph, despair, eye-nibbling crows and a great Wagnerian score. And, of course, Nicol Williamson is the best Merlin evah!
Watch out for future stars Gabriel Byrne as Uther, Liam Neeson as Gawain (the knight who charges the Queen with adultery) and Patrick Stewart as Leondegrance.
As an aside, I saw it when it first came out with my girlfriend, who was then working on getting a nomination for a Rhodes scholarship. Afterward she was unimpressed. Turns out she had never heard of King Arthur or Merlin, it was just another made up sword and sorcery movie to her! I guess it doesn’t make any difference but that is always what I remember when I see “Excalibur” - someone (educated and in the USA) made it to age 22 without ever having heard of these characters.
Such an awesome movie, I can’t think of anything I don’t like about it!
What is the name of the music on the soundtrack when they rode to their final battle and all the land came back to life? I love that sequence, so moving…
I cry every time at the scene where Arthur visits Guinevere at the convent and tells her how he wished he could come back, just as a man, and have her take him back. “It is a dream I have…”, he says. ::
I have no inside knowledge, but apparently they had worked together in a Trevor Nunn production of “Macbeth,” and got into some nasty fights there. So, they were already hostile to each other before they were cast in “Excalibur.”
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The bombastic Wagner soundtrack underscoring the epic scale of the legend; the misty landscapes, the anachronistic shining armor from the middle ages. And the characters: the harshness of Uther contrasted with the innocence of Arthur.
I liked the de-christianizing of the Grail Legend, especially the old religion making way for the new One God.
Some of the effects are a little dated and cheesey now, but I still love this film.
A great movie. Also interesting to place it within the entire Boorman catalog: he tends to have lots of lush, green scenery and awesome landscapes as central “characters” in many of his movies (Deliverance, Emerald Forest, even *Tailor of Panama *highlighted much of the vegetation)
I love this film so much. The beautiful, eerie green light that they use for the woods is so effective, for example. And I love so many performances in this - Nigel Terry is so convincing to me as a callow youth becoming a great King. And it’s interesting to learn here that Helen Mirren & Nicol Williamson really disliked each other. They made that antagonism work in their shared scenes together; they’re electric. Also, Nicol Williamson is fantastic. It’s like he’s in his own very different movie and yet it also somehow works. And chalk me up as another person who started listening to Wagner thanks to the stunning use of the music.
The underwater sequence in which Percival sheds his armor is similar to one in Deliverance, an exchange between Merlin and Morgana (Even though such knowledge would burn and blind you?/Then burn me) echoes one in Zardoz, an “You and the land are one” becomes “The king and the land are one” in Hope and Glory.
I thought this movie sucked donkey balls - but then, my image of Merlin has always been from Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment). Nothing else comes close.