So, Sunday was a day spent with my dad, as I sometimes do. We went to the movies together and watched King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Naturally, now I must review it.
Fair warning, I am a Celtic Studies student, so I'm coming at this movie from a different perspective from your average Jane. There might be a rant. We'll see how it goes.
My Quickie Review
My Longer Review
This is, make no mistake, a Guy Ritchie film; filled with the sarcastic, mouthy characters and sharp, witty editing you would expect in a film by Guy Ritchie. The dialogue is excellent, with clever cuts between scenes that get the story moving in surprisingly effective, if a little surreal ways. There is a great deal of humour, and I giggled more than once. The action is great, though, and this is a problem with many films, the quick cuts in the scenes made it a little tricky to figure out what was going on. The characters were extremely likeable, and even the villain of the piece, played by Jude Law, was extremely sympathetic.
Can I just say, Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere (in the original Welsh, Bedwyr) was masterful. And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about there being black people in Britain at this time, there are graves in Britain holding the remains of Africans dating back to the Bronze Age. Don't get me started on how wrong you are about this whole "there were no black people in Britain in this era" bullshit. It's utter bullshit. Ahem.
I'm less certain of the inclusion of East Asians, but I had no issue with it.
I loved, loved, loved, the inclusion of Vortigern's tower in this film. Of course, it is wildly different from the actual Celtic story of Vortigern's Tower, but it's inclusion made me smile so, so much. Too bad that that they turned Vortigern into an Englishman as well.
For those of you who are unaware, Vortigern was a British king (again, distinct from English), who is widely considered to have betrayed the British by inviting Horsa and Hengest, leaders of a Germanic, which is to say, Jutish or Anglish, which is to say, English, tribe (you understand why I made the distinction now) to Britain. He offered them land enough to establish themselves in exchange for help dealing with the raiders from northern Britain (above Hadrian's Wall) and the Irish raiders coming over and causing havoc. This was written as being a heinous act against all of Britain, and no doubt served to cement Vortigern as an enemy of the British people, despite his actions being done in their defence. After all, the English gained a foothold in Ceint (modern-day Kent) because of Vortigern. It's even listed in the Welsh Triads as one of the Three Unfortunate Counsels of the Island of Britain.
This is alluded to in the film, as Vortigern is in negotiations with a foreign power, threateningly hovering off the coast of Britain. Except, in this film, rather than have the enemy be the founding tribes that would later become the English, it's the Vikings.
THIS ANNOYED ME SO MUCH!
I know, I know. It's just a story. But they included the British king Vortigern. They included his tower. But they took away the Britishness and replaced it with Englishness; the very people the historical King Arthur (if he did indeed exist) would have fought against.
Side note: in the original British myth of Vortigern's Tower, Vortigern was building a tower, only to find it reduced to rubble after each night. Finally, he called for the young Emrys (which is the Welsh version of Ambrosius, so it could possibly be a young King Arthur... or Merlin. It gets particularly muddy if you dig deep into the place where myth and history meet), who tells the king to dig up the foundations. That achieved, two dragons, one white and one red, who had been sleeping beneath the foundations awaken and begin to battle. The red dragon defeats the white dragon, and the young Emrys predicts that it symbolises the British people (the red dragon) will be victorious over the Anglish (the white dragon). That is why, incidentally, the Welsh flag has a red dragon on it.
I mean, I can kind of understand why they made Arthur and his men English, rather than British. Most people are still, despite the mountain of academia on the subject, familiar with Arthur as an English king. And, you know, there are a couple of jokes in the film that wouldn't work if the main characters were not English, but goddamn turning Arthur English really pissed me off.
This film, had they given the British their due, would have surpassed it. It's beautifully filmed, clever, funny, and full of all the things I love about the King Arthur myths - magic, action, and more magic (seriously, though, the magic in this was done so well).
Arthur: Legend of the Sword was a stunning film. It was sincerely beautiful, funny, full of action, great acting... it honestly has everything going for it. I'm really only bothered by the replacing of the Britishness with Englishness because I am so familiar with the mythology and history surrounding the Arthurian myths. Ordinary folk probably won't be annoyed by it in the slightest.
In short, go see this film. It is stunning, and so wittily filmed, edited and acted.