John Boorman’s Excalibur
John Boorman’s interpretation of the legend of King Arthur is an adaptation of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Boorman’s depictions of courtly love, feudal loyalty, and the medieval view of man/God propel this movie into a fantastic dramatization of the Arthurian legend. Love becomes one of the driving factors as you see it blindly and deafly destroy all that Arthur has strove to create. Following and conflicting with the theme of love lies the loyalty of the knights to their king, particularly the measures Sir Lancelot takes to distance himself from Guinevere in fear of ruining his friendship with his lord and king. Lastly, the role of God plays heavily into the film as the mighty sword Excalibur, the wizard Merlin, and even Arthur are found to not be human nor possessing any human purposes except to provide the world with future memory.
Following the retrieval of Excalibur from the lady of the lake, Uther Pendragon forms an alliance with his enemy, the Duke of Cornwall, however upon seeing his wife Igraine, Uther is unable to control his lust for her and he sacrifices his alliance for a night with her. Merlin, not understanding the concept of love fulfills Uther’s wish and summons the dragon and transforms Uther into the likeness of the Duke. Using this disguise, Uther impregnates Igraine, but her daughter Morgana sees through his disguise and swears vengeance. In addition to the future threat which Morgana presents, Merlin suffers great wounds from summoning the dragon and it takes him nine months to recover, upon which he comes and takes Arthur and curses the lunacy of love.
Twenty years pass, and King Arthur has fallen madly in love with Guinevere. He asks Merlin just as his father did to make her love him. Merlin attempts to reason with Arthur, and warns him that one day she will betray you with your best man. Arthur does not listen nor do his eyes waver from her body. Merlin realizes his...