EXCALIBUR is great re-telling of King Arthur legend. This movie is full of spectacular action sequences. I kinda loved Alex Thomson's cinematography. Just look at the opening scene when some knights appear in the wood at night with some red lightings. EXCALIBUR is also a good allegory of the cycle of birth, life, decay, and restoration. Too bad, the story feels muddled. The characterization is also quite weak...
Une extraordinaire photographie, une parfaite maîtrise du cadre, un climat épique bien rendu, font de cette oeuvre un excellent moment de détente et une grande leçon de cinéma. Un bravo à l'acteur Nicol Williamson dans le rôle de Merlin l'Enchanteur. www.cinefiches.com
Boorman's fantasy epic is elemental. Arthur's doomed attempt to harmonize his inner self with the laws of his kingdom is the story of every compromised leader. And he seems to know this: he tells Guinevere, "I was not born to live a man's life, but to be the stuff of future memory." The expository dialogue fits b/c it's delivered by walking archetypes. Also the combat is great: it feels barely choreographed & raw.
Top Ten countdown – #3 Employs the essential Western myth to blend the act of filmmaking with mythmaking. Its unique surreal mise-en-scène both suits the epic of man rising dominant over the old world, and carries the weight he brings along—a belief in utopia but also jealousy, violence, and contempt. Boorman honours JMS's words: "That man is a magnificent thing, and at the same moment he's the curse of the planet."
From the breathless, Wagner-scored prologue that opens John Boorman's "Excalibur," image after ferocious image is seared indelibly onto film, wielding the power of myth yet carrying the weight of history. No doubt you can trace the lineage of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" and TV's "Game of Thrones" back here, but for sheer phantasmagoric spectacle "Excalibur" is virtually without peer in its genre.
From the cinematography to the costume design, this film just works. Apart from some underdeveloped aspects - Arthur's abrupt rise to king, (Does he really not know Excalibur is almost impossible to remove?) It's all easily overlooked however, as the action scenes are beautifully filmed and the performances are more than worthy of the quite impressive script. And it's all covered in a wonderfully crafted atmosphere.
"...Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha. Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha..." -- Merlin, reciting the charm of making. Does anyone know what it actually means.? I love the way it sounds, especially with the timbre of Nicol Williamson.
This was attacked in its day for bad writing, and not without cause. But that just makes me wish it was still okay in 1981 to make a silent film, so that all the wooden dialogue and mythic characters could be properly reduced to abstract bullet points (where they belong) and leave us to luxuriate in the music and imagery. One of the most visually expressive movies I've seen.