When I was younger I tried, and failed, to read Mallory's Morte D'Arthur. I simply could not understand what people saw in it until I was older, and came across an abridged audiobook. The reader spoke the words like he was reading a fairy tale for a child's bedtime story. It was then that I got it, if you will. The story of King Arthur is high adventure, with wonder and glory and lust and love and true knights fighting great evil and so forth. It's an ahistorical melodrama, everything that the people of the Middle Ages wished the world was but wasn't. It seems to me that Boorman had two goals in mind for this film, to convey the feel of the Arthurian Legend, and to tell it all in one movie. For the most part, I think he succeeds. Dark and vivid, Excalibur is casted with larger-than-life archetypes who do much shouting and fighting. They shout indoors and fight while covered in muck and dirt and blood. And there's armor. Lots, and lots of armor. As in, they even wear it having sex. The music is glorious and I can't say enough good things about the lush cinematography. The special effects are noticeably eighties, but that didn't hurt it in my eyes. Unlike most King Arthur adaptions, the plot covers the entire legend, from Uther to The Sword in the Stone to The Grail to Mordred. Boorman had to do a lot of condensing and character mixing in order to cram Mallory's Doorstopper into a two hour film, but I think he pulls it off. This movie seems to have a love-it-or-hate-it reputation, and I can see why. If you like the melodramatic aspects of high adventure, it may well be for you. If you don't, then the movie will probably be relentless Narm.
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