Thursday, February 20, 2014

Excalibur (1981)

Director: John Boorman

Writers: Thomas Malory, Rospo Pallenberg, John Boorman

Composer: Trevor Jones

Starring: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey, Nicol Williamson, Robert Addie, Gabriel Byrne, Keith Buckley, Katrine Boorman, Liam Neeson, Corin Redgrave, Niall O'Brien, Patrick Stewart, Clive Swift, Ciaran Hinds

More info: IMDb

Tagline: No mortal could possess it! No kingdom could command it!

Plot: Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the round table of Camelot even as forces conspire to tear it apart.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This is the definitive telling of the King Arthur legend.  Well, it is in my book.  There's no denying, though, that this is the most adult and mature film version of the tale.  The performances are great.  I love the enthusiastic take Nicol Williamson had for Merlin.  And this picture has a lot of then-unknowns that have since become A-list actors.  Seeing Clive Swift (the husband in the hilarious UK show, KEEPING UP APPEARANCES (1990)) in such a serious role is cool as shit.  I mostly just dig the reality world with a touch of fantasy but not that child fantasy crap you would expect.  Trevor Jones' score is great but the use of classical music in spots often doesn't work well and it's mostly because of the music editing.  These cues weren't written for the film so it's really awful sometimes when the music quickly fades or is cut off at an unexpected moment.  It's so bad at times that I'm shocked the film was released that way.  I can understand a temp track like that but it's unacceptable for a finished product and one so well made as this.  One thing that never escapes me is the running time of two hours and twenty one minutes.  It feels like three hours but I dig this film so much that I can overlook that...that is until the next time I'm an hour and a half into it with forty one minutes to go.


  1. Hi! You know a lot of movies, so maybe you can help me. 20 years ago I saw the TV movie of which I remember only a small part of it. It was a fantasy, some group of people walked through the forest (one of them was the cyclops) and one of them drowned in the swamp. That's all I remember.

  2. I think it might be Krull (1983) although I haven't seen it in nearly 30 years. The plot keywords include 'cyclops' and 'swamp'. Here's the trailer