Follow TV Tropes


Film / Kaamelott: Premier Volet

Go To
Il revient pas pour trier les lentilles. Translation 

"La patience est un plat qui se mange sans sauce." Translation 

Kaamelott: Premier Volet (French for Kaamelott: First Chapter or Kaamelott: First Installment) is a 2021 French medieval fantasy comedy film written, directed and produced by Alexandre Astier and starring him as Arthur Pendragon. It is the long-gestating and long-awaited theatrical film sequel to the 2004-2009 Arthurian Legend-inspired comedy series Kaamelott, and is intended to be the first installment (hence the title) of a trilogy to wrap the story up. Most of the series' main cast (which means a lot) returned alongside some newcomers. It was released in France on July 21, 2021 after being delayed several times due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The UK got a subtitled release on September 10, 2021.

Ten years have passed since Arthur Pendragon abdicated the throne of Kaamelott and disappeared after handing it over to Lancelot du Lac, who has since established a reign of terror over the kingdom of Logres. The Knights of the Round Table have disbanded and formed pitiful pockets of resistance against Lancelot, and everyone wonders what happened to Arthur, from Lancelot (who wants him dead and put a bounty on his head) all the way to the clueless knights and oppressed smallfolk (who want him to return). It turns out Arthur is alive and well, but does he really want to bother coming back to Kaamelott, help all these morons once more and reclaim the throne? Short answer: HELL NO... but circumstances force him to anyway.

After announcing he was working on the second installment (which then started filming in 2023), Alexandre Astier also said he would like to explore the events that happened during the ten-year-long Time Skip between the end of the series and the first film, an installment potentially titled Kaamelott: Resistance, but he hasn't decided on which kind of media he'll do it yet.

Kaamelott: Premier Volet provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Alzagar the Bounty Hunter kills the captain of the boat he boards with a multishot crossbow, then politely talks to the crew in order to find what they hide onboard.
  • Ancient Rome: The flashbacks of Arthur's youth take place when he was known as Arturus and trained in Northern Africa to be integrated in the Roman legions.
  • Animal Assassin: Upon being found among a bunch of slaves, Arthur gets rid of Quarto by throwing a scorpion in his robes. Quarto then falls unconscious, presumably dead.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: The first time we see the Burgundians try to lay siege to Kaamelott, the Jurisconsult notes that, even if they weren't too inept to make their Siege Engines work, they parked them way too close to the walls and any shot they'd manage to throw would just whiz past above the castle.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: While Perceval is trying to listen for enemy activity in the tunnels:
    Karadoc: Can you hear anything?
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While Arthur often belittles Guenièvre in Books 1 to 4 despite her (mostly ineffectual) efforts to be a good queen and wife, he accompanies her to the tower to get the flower crown back. And then he actually climbs the tower for her and tenderly kisses her.
  • Big Bad: Lancelot du Lac is the main antagonist, of the Tyrant Takes the Helm sort.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Arthur and Guenièvre have one towards the end. Notable in that it had never happened before (in the series).
  • Big Damn Movie: Compared to the series, there's no cheap-looking set, filming was done in forests, real castles, deserts, etc., and the plot concerns an epic Rightful King Returns quest (even though said rightful king is reluctant). While the budget isn't quite that of an Epic Movie, it certainly has the feel of one, helped by the cinematography and the epic soundtrack (composed by Alexandre Astier himself). Special mention to the Castle of Kaamelott, which is seen from the outside for the first time in all its glory.
  • Bounty Hunter: Alzagar (Guillaume Gallienne) tracks Arthur down and finds him at the beginning of the film. When he reaches Aquitania with his prisoner, the Duke (Alain Chabat) offers him twice the amount of his bounty to buy Arthur's freedom.
  • Brick Joke: Gareth mentions that he knows a spell, but does not want to use it because it comes from his father King Loth, whom he is ashamed of. Near the ending, he is seen using it to calm a fight between the guests at Petrok and Mehben's wedding.
  • Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Quarto's Visigoth bodyguards, in the vein of Yvain and Gauvain. One complains that one of his sandals has a hole in it, the other vaguely dog-paddles after a swimming Arthur, and they both ask stupid questions.
    Quarto: Can we furl the sails on the dumbassery here?
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards:
    • Lancelot hires a bunch of Saxon mercenaries led by Horsa (Sting) to help enforce his Reign of Terror. They're expensive, but they're also good at their job, which is something quite rare in the Medieval Morons-populated kingdom of Logres.
    • Quarto the slave merchant has two (not very bright) Visigoth henchmen/bodyguards.
  • Call-Back: A lot to the series.
    • Léodagan is still as enamoured with large Siege Engines as he was in the series, and clearly depressed to have been forced to give them up to Lancelot. When the Burgundians turn up at his castle along with their arsenal, he is clearly taken by it and decides to invite them to stay just to remain near their engines (which proves quite important later on when Arthur figures out how to coordinate the Burgundians enough to allow them to use their weapons properly and turns them into his allies to retake Kaamelott).
    • Perceval's incomprehensible games were a Running Gag in the series. Here we get to see one of them.
    • In The Stinger, Méléagant wakes up from his sleep and eats snow, just as he described he did at one point in Book V.
  • Call to Agriculture: Subverted; the knights who took up farming in Carmélide are just as inept at it as they were at being knights, and even argue with each other.
  • Calvinball: "Robobrol", one of Perceval's incomprehensible Welsh games. It's just as ridiculous to see in action as it is to hear the rules, and it ends when Guenièvre knees an opposing player in the groin, which apparently is worth a lot of points.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Ten years have passed In-Universe, while the film was made ten years after the end of the series, and everyone aged accordingly, Karadoc's daughters especially.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or Chekhov's Siege Engines in this case. The Burgundians impressive artillery appears fairly early on in the movie, but they only become relevant when Arthur finds out how to coordinate them enough to attack Kaamelott.
  • Collapsing Lair: The keep of Kaamelott castle counts as this as the final duel between Arthur and Lancelot happens there. The collapsing happens courtesy of the Burgundians finally being able to position their Siege Engines and throw rocks with them thanks to Arthur having the idea to use music to coordinate them.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Dagonet still doesn't know which lands of Britain belong to him, looking dubiously at the people who tell him he owns the Isle of Taneth.
    • A young member of La Résistance says he wanted to be named Knight Provençal, but that the name was already taken. This was Perceval in Book I, who was unable to remember his own name correctly.
    • In one episode, Arthur manages to trick Attila into thinking the Burgundians are allied with him by claiming their catapults are positioned to fire over the castle and into the Huns. In the movie it's mentioned that Burgundians are so incompetent at siege warfare that even if they could use their catapults, they're too close to the castle and the projectiles would pass over it.
  • Covered in Gunge: At the beginning, Bounty Hunter Alzagar looks for and finds Venec who, as it happens, was hiding in a barrel of dates preserved in syrup and is covered with the stuff.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Near the end of the movie, Arthur lies unmoving on a table with his arms stretched out, waiting for the castle to collapse on him.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Lancelot completely freezes when he sees the Burgundians correctly positioning their Siege Engines and begin attacking Kaamelott. None of his councilmen can snap him out of it until the first stones begin to hit the castle.
  • Distant Sequel: The film starts ten years from where the series left off.
  • Divine Assistance: Arthur gets struck by a lightning bolt right before the duel with Lancelot starts, which re-empowers Excalibur.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Arthur insists on not being called "Sire", since he's not king anymore (and is not keen on becoming king again).
  • Epic Fail: Kolaig's quest to become a knight. First he tries to ambush and garrote Arthur under the impression that he'd object to someone rescuing Guenièvre. Then the attempt to take out the tower guards silently goes as well as expected, and several of them flee to give the alarm. Then he decides he absolutely has to climb the tower instead of taking the stairs, and while Arthur and co. take a long time to break down the door, by the time they get back down it turns out he still hasn't gotten anywhere. Finally he decides he's had enough and he'll just find another quest to become a knight, falls off the tower and isn't seen for the rest of the movie.
    Nessa: I would like to inform my lady that my lady's suitor has progressed a foot or two towards the bottom.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: Arthur put Excalibur back in the stone in the fifth season of the series when he renounced the throne. He comes back at the stone to reclaim it in the film.
  • Flashback: There's a whole subplot via flashbacks that concerns teen Arthur falling in love with a girl when he was training to be integrated in the Roman army. Unlike much of the film, those scenes are not Played for Laughs.
  • Flowery Insults: Perceval gets angry at some others from La Résistance as he believed Arthur was still alive after ten years and they didn't.
    Perceval: Of course he isn't dead, I've been telling you for ten years, you fat salsify!
  • Forgetful Jones: Dagonet still doesn't remember where the borders of his lands are and even has to be reminded that the Isle of Thanet belongs to him.
  • Get Out!: On running into the council, Arthur asks if they've changed or they're still the honorless cowards they were. On confirmation that this is the case, he tells them to go away, threatening to hang them if they come back.
  • Girl in the Tower: Lancelot had Guenièvre locked in a tower. Kolaig (her new suitor) really wants to free her and Arthur helps him by neutralizing the guards and crashing through the door... but the guy has a Complexity Addiction and really insists on escalating the tower instead of simply taking the stairs. Arthur lets him proceed... and he doesn't go very far and ends up falling to his Uncertain Doom.
  • Golden Snitch: It turns out all that was needed to win the utterly incomprehensible "Robobrol" game was for Guenièvre to knee one adversary in the groin at the right moment.
  • Groin Attack: Hitting an adversary in the nuts (courtesy of Guenièvre) is all that is needed for Arthur to win the stupid and incomprehensible game called "Robobrol" that the guards barring him access to Excalibur had him play on Perceval's suggestion. Nobody bothered to explain him the rules, on the other hand...
  • Happiness in Slavery: Arthur seems to have made no effort to escape during his time as a slave somewhere on the Red Sea coast, fleeing only once people looking for him come by. His owner doesn't try to stop him either, only saying that if he decides to free one of his slaves, that's his business.
  • He's Back!: Arthur does comes back in the kingdom of Logres and does end up leading La Résistance, but it's more out of circumstances forcing his hand than out of his own volition.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite his bluntness and initial reluctance to come back and help La Résistance, Arthur genuinely holds the ideals of the Round Table (that all knights, no matter their origin, status or title, sit as equals around the table) in high regards. So much so that one of the few scenes not Played for Laughs in the film is when he sees the makeshift Round Table that some members of La Résistance made in the woods and insists that he and the ones present sit at it and introduce each other formally without a hint of irony or sarcasm.
    • The Burgundians are hopelessly moronic when it comes to war, but they have good musicians. Which gives Arthur the idea to use music to have them maneuver their Siege Engines better.
    • While Perceval is as much The Ditz as he ever was, he also shows some surprisingly quick (and clever) thinking, such as scrambling to hide Merlin's tunnel beneath the jail as Mevanwi and her mooks arrive, and bonking Kolaig on the head to stop him from garroting Arthur.
    • Merlin, who in the series had consistently proven to be particularly incompetent at magic (and not much better at everything else), proves to be a competent mapmaker when he finally gets to establish a map of the underground tunnels of La Résistance, which allows them to stop digging in circles and dig a tunnel to the dungeon where Arthur had been imprisoned.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: The Saxons come off as this for Lancelot, by virtue of being a legit threat to anyone who's not Arthur... and for being pretty much the only people in the kingdom of Logres to actually get their job done (since morons abound there).
  • Hypocritical Humor: Perceval never mentions his brother because, according to him, he's an idiot. Since Perceval himself (unlike Karadoc) is quite self-aware about being The Ditz, it says a lot about Lamorak of Wales.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Lancelot's royal outfit is a cross between a gambeson and an armor with the shape of an eagle, apparently made from dragon hide. It is very stiff and the high collar covers his mouth most of the time, but he doesn't seem to mind the impracticality (and ridiculousness) of it all.
  • King Incognito: The missing Arthur is found among slaves on a coast of the Red Sea.
  • Lighter and Softer: While not without its dramatic moments, the film reverts the show's Cerebus Syndrome and is definitely more comedic and lighthearted than Book VI.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: Upon arriving to Excalibur in the Stone, Arthur finds himself having to win a silly and downright incomprehensible game called "Robobrol" that he must win in order to gain access to the sword. No-one but Perceval and Lamorak understand its rules, with a number of rules each with a name sillier than the last (it's not a ball game... but it suddenly becomes one), which gives the impression that they're made up on the spot... Then Guenièvre performs a Groin Attack on an adversary, and Arthur wins the game, just like that.
  • Made a Slave: Arthur was enslaved sometime after the end of Book VI during the ten-year hiatus until the events of the film. Oddly, he doesn't seem to have minded, only escaping after people come looking for the rightful king of Britain, and the slave driver doesn't even send anyone after him, telling Quarto that if he wants to free a slave it's his right to do so.
  • Medieval Morons: Ten years have passed, and the usual morons introduced in the series haven't gotten any brighter.
  • The Millstone: Karadoc, as usual. He nearly causes the siege to fail when he refuses to give the order to collapse the tunnels because he doesn't understand why (something even Perceval understood). Fortunately his feet get caught in the ropes so he ends up pulling on them himself, causing the Tunnel Network's and the castle's collapse.
  • Offstage Villainy: We are told that Lancelot is a dreaded tyrant who ruined the kingdom and had children executed. Other than keeping Guinevere prisoner and the kingdom being broke, we never see his crimes.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Some words are spoken with English pronunciation in the middle of a French sentence, such as Horsa saying "sire", Wulfstan saying "Kaamelott" or a soothsayer "Arthur Pendragon".
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Arthur ordering Karadoc and Perceval to break open the locked door of Guenièvre's prison. Since the door is heavy and well locked, we get a very long shot of her side with frequent "thud"s against the door, which doesn't budge, with Guenièvre next to it, looking increasingly awkward.
    • Arthur trying to order Perceval and Karadoc to "stand guard on the path" takes a good five minutes, at the end of which neither of the two seems to have managed to grasp the concept of what "standing guard" means, despite Arthur's multiple rewording and explanations.
      Perceval: So we go along the path and if we don't see anybody coming, we come back, right?
  • Pet the Dog: Wulfstan sounds apologetic for the Saxon raids having killed Guethenoc's wife.
  • Played for Drama: Arthur's youth flashbacks with the tragic fate of the woman he loved and his ensuing vengeance for her death are definitely not played for comedy. Neither is the fact that he spares Lancelot's life and lies down amidst the collapsing castle in a clear (second) suicide attempt.
  • Precision F-Strike: Venec suddenly yelling "The duchess of Aquitania is a whore!" is all the more surprising (and funny) because of how unexpected it is (even In-Universe, with Arthur staring bug-eyed at Venec).
  • Refusal of the Call: Arthur really, really doesn't want to come back to Logres for a good chunk of the film.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Played with. The movie introduces Léodagan's sister Fraganan and Perceval's brother Lamorak, but everyone's surprised to learn they exist. In Léodagan's case, it's because he believes it's none of other people's business to know if he has relatives or not (and he clearly doesn't care much for her in the first place), while Perceval is aware that his brother is an idiot (yes, even he can tell). Guenièvre did mention an aunt in the series, while Lamorak is one of Perceval's brothers in some Arthurian legends.
    Perceval: [to Karadoc] Your brother's an idiot too, doesn't mean we should start an idiot farm.
  • La Résistance: About three factions have formed in resistance to the tyranny of Lancelot at the beginning of the film but, as usual with all these Medieval Morons, calling them "ineffectual" would be putting it mildly.
  • Rightful King Returns: The oppressed people of the kingdom of Logres and the Resistance hope that Arthur will come back, rid them of Lancelot's reign and reclaim the throne as The Good King, but he's really not keen on coming back.
  • Rule of Cool: Invoked in-universe by Perceval and Karadoc as the reason why La Résistance must take place in underground tunnels. The fact that their refusal to map the tunnels leads to them digging in circles is only an irrelevant detail.
  • Running Gag: The Burgundians laying siege to some castles and being ineffectual buffoons at it.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end, Horsa discusses the quest to find the Holy Grail with Arthur, Lancelot faces the gigantic Nazgûl-like ghost of his father by the tower in which he locked Guenièvre, and Méléagant returns.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Yvain, Ygerne (Arthur's mother), the Master-at-arms and several other recurring characters of the series are noticeably absent from the film.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Karadoc's daughters Mehben and Mehgan have grown up, they're quite pretty and they have suitors now.
  • The Siege: The Burgundians lay various sieges over the course of the film, but they're too moronic to properly maneuver their Siege Engines, posing no threat at all — at least until Arthur finds a way for them to finally coordinate and be efficient.
  • Slave Market: Sometime after the end of Book VI, Arthur was Made a Slave around the Red Sea and was sold by slave merchant Quarto (Clovis Cornillac). Upon learning that Arthur is sought after for a very hefty bounty, he sets out to find the guy he sold him to.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Gift shops and all sorts of charlatans selling "miracle healing" products have popped up around Excalibur in the Stone when Arthur comes back to reclaim the sword.
  • Special Guest: Sting as the Saxon chief Horsa.
  • Stacked Characters Poster: The home video release poster (this page's picture) has two columns of stacked heads of characters from the film. Lancelot is an Evil Overlooker on it.
  • The Stinger: The post-credit scene shows the return of Méléagant, waking up from a magical sleep as he described in the series.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Both Arthur (with the stupid and/or cowardly resistants plus the Burgundians) and Lancelot (with his inept ministers and the moronic peasants who are supposed to pay taxes), as usual. And Merlin too with Karadoc, Perceval and the workers in the tunnels (who dug in the wrong directions and got easily lost underground).
  • Sword over Head: At the end, Arthur readies Excalibur to deliver the Coup de Grâce to a disarmed Lancelot who's laying on the ground... but ultimately doesn't kill him and lets him flee, after having a tragic flashback of his youth in the Roman army.
  • They Just Dont Get It: Perceval and Karadoc are unable to understand what "standing guard on the path" means, no matter how long Arthur takes to explain them.
    Perceval: So we go along the path and if we don't see anybody coming, we come back, right?
  • Thicker Than Water: Mevanwi doesn't care one bit about most of the prisoners, including her ex-husband Karadoc, but she nonetheless comes down to the prisons of Kaamelott to have her daughters Mehben and Mehgan freed, despite them siding with the resistants. They both refuse to follow her, however.
  • This Means Warpaint: The Burgundians put makeup on their faces matching their colorful outfits when going on sieges. At the end, Léodagan, Séli and Franagan also don them when Arthur's alliance with the Burgundians lays siege to Kaamelott.
  • Title 1: The film is titled Premier Volet (First Installment) as it is the first of an intended trilogy.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer showed the Burgundians destroying Kaamelott with their Siege Engines, something that happens only near the end of the movie.
  • Tricked into Another Jurisdiction: Inverted. Arthur and Venec are taken captive and brought back to Kaamelott by Alzagar the bounty hunter. As they cross the border into the duchy of Aquitania (which is under Kaamelott's jurisdiction), Arthur speaks up for the first time since his capture, telling the guard that he's been Made a Slave (Kaamelott outlawed slavery) and demands that the guard arrest everyone and bring them to the Duke of Aquitania for trial. The guard is indifferent to this... until Venec has the bright idea to yell out that the Duchess of Aquitania is a whore, which promptly gets everyone arrested and brought before the Duke just as Arthur wanted.
  • Tunnel Network: Karadoc, Perceval and a bunch of other resistants dig tunnels to reach the castle of Kaamelott, but they're too stupid to find the right directions until Merlin comes at them with plans.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Mevanwi is still queen of Britain, but clearly Lancelot no more touches her than he did Guenièvre and she mocks him for it.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Lancelot is defeated at the end, but Arthur lets him flee.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Perceval and Karadoc's friendship seems to have soured into this, with Perceval now actively insulting Karadoc's intelligence (and making rather good points, too) rather than both thinking they're the smartest in the room.

Alternative Title(s): Kaamelott