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parrot_knight [userpic]

Small gem from Winchester

August 12th, 2004 (10:59 pm)

I still haven't found the energy to do a full conference report, as I had planned, but one gem I learned from one of the cinema panels (and there were a few) was that the consensus among Arthurian film scholars seems to be that the best Arthurian films are Knightriders, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Fisher King. Excalibur seems to be regarded as pretty incoherent.

Comments

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 03:07 pm (UTC)
coffee

Incoherent it may be, but a great soundtrack, and cast of thousands before they were famous, and Nicol Williamson is still the best Merlin...

I should watch Knightriders again, as my memory of it is pretty incoherent. The Fisher King I remember as plain depressing. My vote is probably for Monty Python.

Did you know about the Tristan and Iseut film they seem to be making?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 03:43 pm (UTC)

The criticism of Williamson's Merlin - I can't remember who made it, though - is that he is too comical and 'prone to pratfalls', drawing on a tradition in cinema that treated Merlin as a lightweight, and thereby compromising Boorman's stated intention to make an 'authentic' Arthurian film.

One speaker talked about Leo the Last, an earlier Boorman film about an exiled European monarch living in a mansion among Notting Hill slums, who learns solidarity with the poor black community and sloughs off his parasitic courtiers, arguing that it was a more authentically Arthurian film than Excalibur.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: August 13th, 2004 12:50 am (UTC)

I thought that the first few times I saw Excalibur, but later appreciated him more, as being in keeping with the mad Merlin/mad Sweeney tradition. I can't remember any other Merlins at all, which must be saying something!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 03:44 pm (UTC)

...and no, I didn't know about the Tristan and Iseut film. Tell me more!

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: August 13th, 2004 12:52 am (UTC)
coffee

I know practically nothing, save that there was a BBC poll about who should be the next James Bond, and I had no idea what Rufus Sewell looked like or what he'd been in, so I looked him up on the IMDB, and there he was listed as being "Lord Marke" in "Tristan & Isolde" (2004). It's given as "post-production" and last updated in Dec. 2003, though, so will it ever see the light of day?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 13th, 2004 02:25 am (UTC)

I've had another look round on the net, and it looks like the film will appear Christmas this year, or spring next. It's produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, directed by Kevin Reynolds, and stars James Franco (Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man films) as Tristan, with Sophia Myles as Isolde. The production has taken a similar line to Fuqua and Bruckheimer's King Arthur - not in saying that they are all Sarmatians(!) but in avoiding a high medieval setting and eschewing fantasy elements for a realistic fifth-century setting, or whatever they believe that to be.

Posted by: Kargicq (kargicq)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 04:25 pm (UTC)

Hmm, I've not heard of Knightriders, should I watch it? (Baby-bouncing and bottle-feeding requires two hands so I'm attracted to films and music and the moment.)

I only saw Excalibur a couple of months ago. I liked Nicol Williamson, everything else showed why it's just as well that (like it or not) the Tolkien Estate waited for Peter Jackson.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 04:37 pm (UTC)

Knightriders is a long film. but worth watching, as it illustrates and expands very well on the relations between the American dream and the Arthurian ideal. It came out in 1981, in the same week as Excalibur, an unhelpful piece of scheduling, and was directed by George A. Romero. It was set in the mid-1970s, and includes a lot of people dressing up - a sort of SocA/SocT banquet, but with motorbikes. Good performances from Ed Harris and Tom Savini among others, and watch out for Patricia Tallman as a starstruck teenager.

Apparently it was the sheer obscurantism of Leo the Last that lost John Boorman the contract for the film version of The Lord of the Rings, or so the speaker claimed!

Posted by: Kargicq (kargicq)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 04:47 pm (UTC)

Arthuriana + motorbikes? I really should watch this. My DVD-by-mail rental service doesn't stock it, alas. If it ever made it to DVD...

(Although... set in the 1970s? The decade that style forgot, in motorcycle design as well as clothes. Might be painful.)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 05:06 pm (UTC)

I don't know if it did make it to DVD - the version I have was taped off-air from BBC 2 in the 1990s.

As for the 1970s setting - it's more an attitude than a fashion statement, and although some of the clothes are alarming, they are usually there to make a point about the decadence of contemporary commercialism.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: August 13th, 2004 12:55 am (UTC)

The clothes of the 1970s weren't nearly as bad as those of the 1980s. I don't know about the States, but this year's high street fashions for women have been a disaster: 1950s and 1980s designs, with the patterns of 1970s wallpaper and lino. Yikes!

Posted by: Polly (jane_somebody)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC)

Ulp! Have nasty feeling we still have your tape of Knightriders - remind me to check.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 12th, 2004 05:07 pm (UTC)

I still have a couple of places to check here, but will let you know.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: August 13th, 2004 12:55 am (UTC)

Um, Polly? Monday? No Monday?

I've found those goth tapes you expressed curiosity about long ago, too!

Posted by: Polly (jane_somebody)
Posted at: August 13th, 2004 10:29 am (UTC)

Ack, sorry, forgot to reply, email coming your way... (prefer Wed?)