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The One Ring Forums: Off Topic: The Pollantir:
What is your favourite film/TV adaptation of the King Arthur legend?
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Poll: What is your favourite film/TV adaptation of the King Arthur legend?
Knights of the Round Table (1953)
Camelot (1967)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Excalibur (1981)
First Knight (1995)
King Arthur (2004)
Merlin (TV series and 1998 film)
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
View Results (40 votes)


Feb 7 2013, 8:15pm

Post #1 of 37 (888 views)
What is your favourite film/TV adaptation of the King Arthur legend? Can't Post

There have been many attempts to bring the legendary King to life, some of which have been brilliant, and some of which have been...well cringe-worthy to say the least. Which one is your favourite?

My personal favourite is Excalibur, mostly because of the performance given by Nicol Williamson in the role of Merlin, who gives us a very different wizard: no white-bearded angelic figure, rather that of a mysterious and occasionally humorous riddler who always seems to be playing a deeper game. He is perfectly matched by Helen Mirren's Morgana, and their real-life dislike for one another turns into a gripping on-screen rivalry.

I have listed some of the more well-known films/series made on the subject, but as always there is an "other" option if you prefer one not listed.

Grey Havens

Feb 7 2013, 8:22pm

Post #2 of 37 (573 views)
"Other" [In reply to] Can't Post

I have seen only two of the above, Excalibur and Monty Python (which are both excellent for wildly different reasons).

However, in the category I would vote "Other", specifically, the 2001 TNT miniseries "The Mists of Avalon", an adaptation of Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel of the same name. The book is a long-time favorite, and the miniseries was a creditable adaptation.

The White Wizard
The Shire

Feb 7 2013, 8:47pm

Post #3 of 37 (551 views)
What do you mean? [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you mean when you say Merlin(TV series)? Do you mean the show on the Sci-Fi channel with Colin Morgan, Bradley Cooper, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath, and Richard Wilson or do you mean another TV series called Merlin?


Feb 7 2013, 8:48pm

Post #4 of 37 (558 views)
Is it even possible to vote for anything other than Monty Python!? ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

Completely cringe-worthy through and through, but absolutely hilarious nonetheless! Probably one of the most ridiculous and dumb films I've seen, but enjoyable and definitely memorable Tongue


Feb 7 2013, 8:55pm

Post #5 of 37 (557 views)
I voted 'Other' [In reply to] Can't Post

Because I don't really like any of the adaptations that I know. I find the King Arthur legend immensely fascinating, but I haven't found any kind of movie/TV series yet that would do it justice.

Now, the Monty Python version is something else though Tongue


Feb 7 2013, 8:56pm

Post #6 of 37 (562 views)
I mean the BBC Series with Sam Neill as a young Merlin// [In reply to] Can't Post


Aragalen the Green

Feb 7 2013, 9:14pm

Post #7 of 37 (531 views)
I voted for Excalibur [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know if it's the best, but it is my favorite--even if the armor isn't from the correct time period. I love Nicol Williamson as Merlin, and of course Patrick Stewart as King Leondegrance! I admit, whenever I see Nigel Terry as Arthur I'm reminded of his role as Prince John in The Lion in Winter. And the main reason it's my favorite is it came out in 1981 (my senior year in High School), and a very nice young man took me on a date to see it--the same man who I'm now married to :) Heart

He also took me to see Dragonslayer--another one of my favorite movies :) Memories...


Feb 7 2013, 9:18pm

Post #8 of 37 (565 views)
Yes I remember Nigel Terry from that film as well [In reply to] Can't Post

Brilliant film with great acting. I liked the way it seemed to follow on from the (also brilliant) Beckett film, as Peter O'Toole played the same character in both (if memory serves me correctly, it's been a long time).

Alassëa Eruvande

Feb 7 2013, 11:42pm

Post #9 of 37 (555 views)
It is the first dvd I ever bought. // [In reply to] Can't Post


Grey Havens

Feb 8 2013, 4:18am

Post #10 of 37 (516 views)
Have to agree with this [In reply to] Can't Post

There's no movie version that measures up to my internal vision which leans heavily to Stewart's Crystal Cave version


Feb 8 2013, 6:46am

Post #11 of 37 (552 views)
King Arthur (2004) and A Knight's Tale [In reply to] Can't Post

What's not to like about King Arthur (2004)? It features Ken Stott (hello), Ray Winstone, Stellan Skarsgard, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Ray Stevenson, Joel Edgerton and not a horrible performance by Keira Knightley. Actually I adore Mikkelsen's Tristan -- and he wields one of the sweetest looking swords I've ever seen on screen.

A Knight's Tale... sigh... I know it's even more loosely based on the legends than King Arthur (2004) was, but it's still one of my favourites. I think it was the first Heath Ledger film my love and I ever saw... we became instant fans... even the kids fell in love with him in that role.

Tol Eressea

Feb 8 2013, 7:25am

Post #12 of 37 (502 views)
Monty Python [In reply to] Can't Post

None of the others do much for me one way or the other. As for the Merlin series on Sci-Fi (which started on BBC, I think?) I just couldn't get past the guy who plays young Merlin's mentor. It's the same guy who played the irascible Victor Meldrew on One Foot In The Grave. Every time he was on screen, I just imagined Victor Meldrew exclaiming grumpily, "I don't believe it!" Laugh

Tol Eressea

Feb 8 2013, 7:33am

Post #13 of 37 (506 views)
I love A Knight's Tale :) [In reply to] Can't Post

The writer really seems to have studied that time period, then just threw all that out the window and played. There were so many wonderful details that brought that era to life combined with all the silly but clever anachronisms. Lots of fun!


Feb 8 2013, 2:52pm

Post #14 of 37 (518 views)
I would never have put A Knight's Tale as an Arthur tale [In reply to] Can't Post

but I won't argue with your doing so.

AKT is one of the movies I'll watch over and over and over again. I really do love it. I have both versions (one has the deleted scenes in the extras and the other has them inserted back into the movie). And the commentary is just as entertaining as the movie. I will put it on while I clean, sometimes.

AKT is the only movie where I've hung out at the imdb boards besides LOTR as well. I don't anymore, but I did for awhile. That tells you how much I loved it.

I've always liked James Purefoy in that movie and wanted to see him in something else. Now he's in a tv show playing a serial killer... one of the few story lines I really can't deal with.

For the hot mess it is, I kind of like the 2004 Arthur. Isn't it funny what we can overlook when we have some affection for something... Woads? Really? You list of actors was missing pretty Welsh boy, Ioan Gruffudd. Never bad on the eyes. And I like Keira Knightley in quite a few movies.

I saw Excaliber when it was first released and although I had an interest in Arthur stories, I don't remember falling in love with it.

I tried to rewatch it recently and I'm struck - when pulling up older movies - how fast I want things to get rolling these days. Older movies were content to have really slow starts. Excaliber starts with some harem type girl dancing. The costuming and definitely the dancing (and maybe the music? can't remember) seemed heavily influence by the times by which I mean: hippie! And this hippie dancing went on and on and on. I couldn't bear it and found something else to watch. I suspect I will never rewatch Excaliber.

The Wackiest Arthur stories I've read: King Arthur in space, the Keltiad series by Patricia Kennealy who is kind of wacky herself. It was an interesting premise.


Feb 8 2013, 5:22pm

Post #15 of 37 (508 views)
True [In reply to] Can't Post

AKT is a long treatise on what it means to be supposedly low born but the only one who can pull the fabled sword from the stone -- to be the truest knight in the land. About the closest it strays to specifics from the Arthur legends though, is he was given to a Sir Ector, to be raised by him, in his youth (Arthur was given to Sir Hector by Merlin as a babe.) Come to think of it, I haven't read any Chaucer on King Arthur, so maybe there are more nods than I'm aware of.

I liked James Purefoy as the Black Prince too. Did you know he was a top contender to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond? But then Daniel Craig got the job (to everyone's surprise)... now he, apparently, wants to pass on the mantle to Robert Pattinson soon.

(Further aside, it's surprising how key actors from both AKT and King Arthur have kind of fallen off, while the supporting actors, almost to a man, have nice little careers going presently. The star that shines brightest etc I guess.)

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Feb 8 2013, 5:25pm)


Feb 8 2013, 5:36pm

Post #16 of 37 (521 views)
key vs supporting actors [In reply to] Can't Post

I was thinking about this recently.

I think studios want someone to sell the movie. A well known name that is popular or proven. (not always the same thing)

Those people tend to be slightly older actors. (and I'm using 'older' in a way a studio would use it) But then they need that fresh, young face that will cause people to sit up and take notice.

It's interesting to see actors (M & F) go through the fresh, young face stage and then, perhaps onto the established, known, proven face stage.

Unfortunately, roles past this slightly older, proven stage drop off and it's only the cream of the crop that find work once they reach a certain age. So we just don't see lots of people once they get older. (and, I think some of them move to the other side of the camera)

And those in the fresh, young face stage move up (if they're lucky and/or talented) to the featured, established role.

So it looks like they are 'doing better' while the name stars might look like they're falling off. But I think a lot of it is how the industry works.

The movie (trailer) that got me thinking this? Jack the Giant Slayer.

Established, proven name that is slightly older: Ewan McGregor (he's promoting the movie)
Young, fresh face: Nicholas Hoult (from Warm Bodies and About a Boy)
Even older, recognizable faces that won't necessarily sell a movie anymore but familiar and comforting nonetheless: Stanley Tucci and Bill Nighy

This movie has a lot of people I'm ready to watch including Ian McShane. It looks really, really geared to be a 3D ride extravaganza, though. I hope there's some amount of enjoyable plot otherwise since I wouldn't be watching it in 3D.

God help the boy but Robert Pattinson just makes me shudder. He would have a huge hurdle to jump for me to buy him as James Bond.


Feb 8 2013, 9:54pm

Post #17 of 37 (533 views)
Cringe-worthy? Dumb? [In reply to] Can't Post

Those are two words I'd never used to describe Holy Grail. I can't ever remember cringing while watching it.

I do find Holy Grail to be the best example of a work that was ruined by its own popularity, though. It is so thoroughly over-quoted in geek circles that is nearly impossible to watch or reference because every last joke from it has been overdone about a thousand times over. And yet, taken on its own, it's one of the funniest movies of all time. So funny that it became one of the most popular comedies ever and so all of its jokes are now completely stale. I know people who never got to properly enjoy the movie because they had already heard all of the jokes dozens of times over beforehand.

If you like the Monty Python brand of humor, it's far fresher to quote Flying Circus or one of their other movies, though Life of Brian suffers some of the same problems. But, for example, if someone says "No 1, the Larch" in an appropriate context, that's going to be much funnier than someone saying "That's merely a flesh wound!" Similarly, watching the appropriate epsidoe of MPFC and hearing the original Larch jokes will be much more enjoyable than watching MPHG and seeing the Black Knight scene.

Regardless, I still consider MPHG one of the greatest of all comedies and selected it here.


Feb 8 2013, 10:32pm

Post #18 of 37 (537 views)
I should have prefaced... [In reply to] Can't Post

that the cringing isn't in a bad way. And I certainly find it dumb, though humorously so. I must admit, though, that I'm one of those who had heard most of the jokes before seeing it.

Grey Havens

Feb 8 2013, 11:23pm

Post #19 of 37 (506 views)
Excalibur For The Young [In reply to] Can't Post

My vote is for Excalibur also.

Despite its own appeal, I would disqualify Monthy Python and the Holy Grail for not being a serious treatment. It's a better fit for "favorite parody" of the Camelot tale - a different question.

You mentioned going to see Excalibur on a date with your to-be husband. The only reason I do not show Excalibur to my younger children, no matter how much I'd like to, is because of what is essentially a rape scene with Uther taking Igraine (for all intents regardless of who Igraine believed he was). Offhand, I don't recall anything else terribly objectionable - not the violence nor even Lancelot lying naked in the forest with Guinevere, because that was loving and beautiful. But it makes me wonder if Uther taking Igraine perhaps caused a bit of squirming for you and your boyfriend on a date in your youth? I would have been self-conscious.

Aragalen the Green

Feb 8 2013, 11:37pm

Post #20 of 37 (490 views)
True. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was raised in a religious household, and yes, I blushed a lot (luckily the theater was dark) and just waited until those bits were over--I think he did the same thing! He hadn't seen it before either so I don't think he was expecting those scenes. Blush

We didn't get a DVD copy until quite recently, so when we watched it again my children were grown. And actually I still get embarrassed.

I agree with you about Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I absolutely love it, but consider it more of a parody, as you said. However, I do enjoy watching it with Subtitles for People Who Don't Like the Film (taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II).


Feb 8 2013, 11:40pm

Post #21 of 37 (606 views)
Camelot 2011 TV series [In reply to] Can't Post

Camelot (2011-) is an HBO-style prime-time-serial-drama of which I've managed to miss every episode (currently in its second season I think.) I plan to check it out the next time I get a chance, and if it's not bad shell for a season on DVD to catch up.

I mention it at all in case anyone is interested. (Here is the IMDb listing.) What I have seen in previews and promotional material looks top shelf, though it seems made for a younger audience. I always think of Arthur and his knights as my elders, and likely will for all of my remaining years, if I can help it. Wink

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Feb 8 2013, 11:45pm)


Feb 10 2013, 4:37am

Post #22 of 37 (496 views)
I found this on Netflix [In reply to] Can't Post

Episode 1 is not bad. The sets and costumes are convincing, though the actors will take some getting used to. I can tell already that Morgan le Fay (Eva Green) has a more prominent role than in the romances, but so far hasn't done anything one wouldn't expect of her, knowing her history.

Magpie may be interested to learn that James Purefoy is in this series as well (there's a coincidence for you), playing King Lot.

It seems the series has been or is under threat of being cancelled. Too rebooty I guess... I'll judge for myself.

Tol Eressea

Feb 10 2013, 5:48am

Post #23 of 37 (534 views)
Sometimes there's just no substitute [In reply to] Can't Post

for quotes like, "That's merely a flesh wound." Laugh I understand what you mean about being over-quoted, but I don't think you should necessarily avoid riffing on MPHG just because it isn't original. Used sparingly and in unexpected situations, lines from HG and LoB can still get a chuckle. And believe me, life is just way too short to worry about being fresh and cool. Smile


Feb 10 2013, 4:33pm

Post #24 of 37 (464 views)
I once responded to a job posting that asked for... [In reply to] Can't Post

portfolio samples
airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow

So, I wrote a note as an email with my cover letter, resume, and samples attached and said as an 'after thought' in the email, "Oh.. as to the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow, would that be African or European?" And then I added a little image from the movie of that question being asked.

In my attached cover letter, I added as a p.s: In regards to the question of the swallow… if the swallow were European, which we might assume given the character of King Arthur, then estimates would place its velocity at 8-11 meters per second.

I got extra points for the answer and the image but I didn't get the job.


Feb 10 2013, 4:41pm

Post #25 of 37 (472 views)
netflix's guess at 'my' rating is 2.5 out of 5. [In reply to] Can't Post

however the actual average is 4 out of 5. I'm not sure why they think I will like it less than the average.

But I'll stick it in my queue.

dang... I thought the Robin Hood tv series reboot was really out there but it had it's enjoyable moments.

On the subject of Camelot, I had a friend who worked as an usher at the major fine arts venue in St. Paul. She often got comp tickets and I'd go with her to shows. One of them was a staging of the Lerner and Loewe play, Camelot, starring Michael York.

Now, I grew up listening to the songs from Camelot and Michael York in Zefferelli's Romeo & Juliet was an early crush of mine.

The play was not that good. York was not good and he has not aged well. And the only thing sadder than seeing a teen age crush 40 years later aging badly is to know you haven't aged any better than he!

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