Released May 12
Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a unique re-telling of the story of Arthur, the legend of ancient English folklore who is said to have led British warriors against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and 6th centuries AD. There is no proof that Arthur really existed. Yet the legend may have been based on a real leader, and it has been handed down through many hundreds of years of storytelling, gaining detail, color and magical embellishments along the way.
One of the key lines in the film is uttered the evil “King Vortigern” (Jude Law) to Arthur (Charlie Hunnam): “What kind of man would you have become had you inherited your father’s kingdom instead of being raised in a brothel?” The answer is set forth in this story. Performances by Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Djimon Housou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen and others are heroic and personal.
At first I didn’t think I was going to like this film. It starts out with a head-snapping rhythm like a video game, portraying the story of Arthur’s upbringing with a disturbing speed. It seems to flip from one style to another at first, only slowing down for close-up emotional scenes. Soon I was drawn into the story however. In the end it works. The result is a very current telling of an age-old universal tale to which young people coming into their own can relate. Arthur has to deal with many of the same difficulties as do teens today, as he comes of age in ancient Londinium. Note that this is the name the Romans in AD 43 had given to the settlement that would become the city of London. Actually, both Arthur and Londinium go through growing pains in the movie.
The background of the myth will help to understand the film’s narrative. The “King Arthur” tale and characters really started to take shape when written down by the 12th Century author Geoffrey of Monmouth in his creative Historia Regnum Britannae (History of the Kings of England). In the same century, French writer Chretien de Troyes added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story and started the Arthurian Romance trend in medieval literature. Arthurian literature thrived in the middle ages, then dropped from popularity until its resurgence in the 1800’s. Today the legend continues to live on and gain in popularity.
The outdoor shoots for the movie were done in Wales and Scotland, giving the landscape a medieval authenticity. The magic, the characters and the landscape all become relatable. The end of the movie reflects what is happening in our world some 1500 years after the time in which this tale is set. This film is well worth watching for young adults as well as anyone of any age who has ever been entranced by the mysteries of the myth of “the sword in the stone.” At its heart, this is a story about power and how the way in which authority is managed can affect lives and change history.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. firstname.lastname@example.org. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com