Sunday, April 4, 2010

Excalibur (1981)

Dir: John Boorman
Warner Bros. DVD

With Excalibur, Boorman attempts to tell the story of King Arthur, his father Uther, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table in two hours and twenty minutes. Here is where the problem lies. Several of the plot lines feel rushed while some scenes seem to linger past their expected time. It gives the movie a feeling of being both briskly paced and overly long. While I believe Boorman did the best he could with making a film that encompasses so much story into a 140 minute run time, this obviously would have benefited from a Lord of the Rings style trilogy treatment or editing the film down to just focus on one part of Arthur's life. The staging of the action is fine but never amazing and I have to question the decision to shoot the film in 1.85:1 as opposed to 2.35:1, it makes the experience too confining and not very grand in it's approach. It's a good film that could have been great. It's certainly better made and more serious than the rash of fantasy films produced in it's wake in the early eighties, but it's also not as fun. Of course being fun wasn't the goal, but a few of the performances are so over the top, it's like the actors only reference to the material was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. These moments are few, but I think it proves that Boorman is at his best when he tells a very specific story with minimal characters. An approach like that to this story would have been very interesting.

This is one of the oldest DVDs I own, I believe it was released in 1999. The film is certainly due for update in the quality department on home video. Hopefully there is a high definition transfer in the works.


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