In 1981, John Boorman launched his passion project, EXCALIBUR. A bold, very adult, and serious take on the Arthurian legend, the film was a modest financial success, grossing $ 34 million domestically. Yet for many, it is the definitive story of King Arthur, and indeed, Boorman’s film is an ambitious classic.
The film had its genesis in Boorman’s abandoned hope of becoming Lord of the Rings in a movie in the late sixties. That project never worked, so Boorman spun around to tell the definitive story of King Arthur. Easier said than done. At that time, the story of King Arthur and his knights was made as swordsmen and family epics, such as the musical Camelot. This would NOT be familiar or swashbuckling. Taking as reference the fifteenth century of Thomas Malory Le Morte d’Arthur, Boorman convinced then-fledgling Orion Pictures to fund his epic.
In fact, it was a risky proposition. The film would be starless, using a primarily British / Irish cast, led by Nigel Terry as Arthur, Cherie Lunghi and Guinevere, Nicholas Clay as Lancelot, and Nicol Williamson as Merlin. Of course, many cast members would later become icons, including Helen Mirren, played as the villain Morgana, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, and more.
The film, which features a fantastic score by Trevor Jones, integrating the works of Richard Wagner and Carl Orff, is a classic, and the film has never been surpassed in terms of the history of Excalibur and go the legendary knights of the round table. Join us in Fantasizing About Fantasy Movies as we delve into the Boorman classic.