So, on the weekend at San Diego ComicCon, this trailer dropped:
The real reason I'm hesitating is I'm a little precious about Celtic myth and legend, and King Arthur is very much a Celtic myth/legend... closer to legend actually as there seems to be enough circumstantial evidence to support a leader rising out of the mess that was Rome's exit from Britain and the invasion of the Saxons, Jutes and Angles. If a King Arthur figure did exist it is likely that Arthur was his warrior epithet rather than his actual name (it translates to something like 'Bear Man' with Arth being the Brythonic Celtic word for 'bear' (it still is in Welsh) and 'ur' being derived from (g)wr, meaning man. There is also an argument for 'Bear King' with 'ur' being derived from Rigos, meaning king or chief (it makes sense if you keep in mind that the pronunciation of 'u' in welsh is closer to a short 'i', as in 'tip'). I personally like the idea of Bear Man myself, as it seems more in line with other recorded epithets in the Celtic world (Cú Chulaind, for example, means 'hound of the the smith'). It is also more than likely that he was a high born of some kind, which for the time period means he likely had Roman blood, and probably served in the Roman military before or during the Roman withdrawal from Britain. Some have posited that the name Arthur comes from the Roman family name Artorius.
Sorry for the Celtic Studies lesson. I just get so excited about it all! I told you, I'm a little precious about it.
Anyway... But I have been watching this trailer an awful lot. Mostly because of the music. I adore the music in this. The song is an old folk song called The Wild Wild Berry and it is sung by Sam Lee. But it is the juxtaposition of this hauntingly sung folk song and the super intense percussion and OH MY GLOB I NEED THIS IN MY IPOD NOW! Seriously, though. This song is my life right now.
I have been listening to this trailer more than I've watched it, to be honest (it was on repeat yesterday while I was editing, appropriately enough, Daughters of Britain), but I've watched it a lot. And there are things I quite like about it.
Other than the music, I mean.
For example, when Arthur grabs the sword hilt and has what is essentially a bad trip, you get a flash of a tower, which looks to be under construction. This may be a reference to Vortigern's Tower, the myth of the British king who tried to build a tower, only to find the work mysteriously undone at the end of each night. He was advised to sacrifice a child with no father. That child was Emrys, who is Merlin. Instead of sacrificing him, Vortigern heeded the boy's advice and had his men tear up the foundations of the tower. Two sleeping dragons, one white and one red, awoke and began to battle in the space beneath the foundations. In the end, the red dragon bested the white dragon. Emrys then prophecised that the red dragon symbolised the British and the white the invading Saxon forces. There will be a great battle, but the British will be victorious. The Saxons will lose. This, incidentally, is why the Welsh flag is the red dragon.
Confusingly, Emrys is the Brythonic form of the Roman name Ambrosius, who was mentioned by Gildas as the last of the Romans and the man the Britons rallied behind in their fight against the invaders (which is to say, the Arthur figure).
[Ambrosius] ... a gentleman who, perhaps alone of the Romans, had survived the shock of this notable storm. Certainly his parents, who had worn the purple, were slain in it. His descendants in our day have become greatly inferior to their grandfather's [avita] excellence. Under him our people regained their strength, and challenged the victors to battle. The Lord assented, and the battle went their way.
I mean in the myth, Arthur is an orphan too, so...
But I've gotten away with myself again. Sorry. I just love it so much I get terribly carried away.
Now, this version of the legend of Arthur is very clearly a fantasy. There's magic, an elephant the size of the biggest of titanosaurs, and a London that looks larger than the London of the time.
I do, however like the nods to the Roman connection, as London is called by it's Iron Age name of Londinium.
Having watched the trailer as much as I have, I'm much less hesitant now. For one, my preciousness aside, this looks like a flipping good film. It has everything I love; magic, fighting, epic scope...
I am quite optimistic also because of the talent associated with this film. It's a Guy Ritchie film, and his movies are consistently entertaining. It has a laundry list of incredible actors, including a personal favourite (Eric Bana), as well as a whole bunch of people that made me smile when they showed up (Little Finger? Is that you?).
Sure, it looks to deviate from both the myth and the history substantially. I think, however, if I manage to divorce the academic side of my brain for this, I'm going to love this film.
What do you think?