Film adaptations which are centered upon the Arthurian legend go as far back in the early times of the medium itself and talk to the endless appeal of the characters in a story and the story itself. In a typical Arthurian work, a mixture of romance, adventure, and courage are combined together to create some famous legends who are recognized very well worldwide (Foster et al 3). As a result of this, numerous adaptations have happened for a long period of time. Historically, some are accurate while they are still appealing to the modern watcher such as the ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ Some of the adaptations go to an extent of even eliminating all major characters except Arthur and entirely alter the story. Such an adaptation has been seen in the most recent adaptation of ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’, however, it appears that every adaptation, in one way or another, has evolved the players of the typical Arthurian literature in order to fit into societies principles and interests today. This paper will focus on the different forms of film adaptations which are based on the Arthurian legend.
The Arthurian legend is not a stranger to adaptations and the numerous Arthurian understandings have taught us that timeless tale is not just one man. The Arthurian legend stories have always comprised of the complex nature of loyalty, honour, and trust in between a dense cast of characters (Foster et al 3). Relying on the emphasis of any provided version, there are undiscovered corners of well-worn legends. The following are the film adaptation versions of King Arthur;
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
This is among one of the most important films in the 20th century. It has flicked the tradition upside down through dusting off these legendary characters with a comedy and present-day stances. The film was directed by Terry Jones together with Terry Gilliam. Camelot together with its residents was permanently changed with thus breakthrough film. Although this is a comical and somehow ridiculous film, it is among one of the few films of Arthurian which are very true to the typical Arthurian literature (Le 89). In the course of the film snippets of and references to a typical primitive text ‘The Book of Hours’ are presented to offer viewers with some historical information which are exact in between laughable acts.
The origin of the Holy Grail Legend was from the typical French writing ‘Perceval, the Story of the Grail’ which is which is shown in the film with the last act being the knight's entrance in the ‘Grail Castle’ in France. The general theme of women becoming abandoned and ‘damsels in distress’ in the Arthurian works was put into much consideration when the creators were creating this film. The creators took this theme to the extent of absurdity of requiring a helper as a method of critiquing the Arthurian works in the manner in which women are being portrayed. Monty Python and The Holy Grail are among one of the comedic adaptations of the Arthurian works which shed lights on the legends idealized understanding of the middle ages.
Since the film has become very popular in recent times, the Arthurian legends have been repeatedly targeted for comedy (Le 91). However, Monty Python was considered to be the greatest comedy in England. This comedy typical shows Arthur and his Knights who are looking for the Holy Grail in sequences of extreme misadventures. It comprises of jokes as easy as the sounding of the shells of a coconut when they are being smashed together to signify horses and as outrageous as a killer rabbit. After some decades later, the best-loved and most quoted film was Monty Python.
There are some adaptations which were before the Holy Grail such as the soaring romance Knights of the Round Table from 1953 which were commonly golden classics that stuck to the more romantic components from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. The Holy Grail changed the legend into a mockery of some sort. King Arthur is not the bravest and strongest king on the land and also certainly his Knights of the Round Table are not perfect. The villain of the film who is the killer rabbit if Caerbannog showed that even with a little imagination, one has the ability to reinvent times of old legend for a new period.
King Arthur film is one of the unique adaptions of Arthurian legends which have been developed after the collapse of the Roman Empire. The film has put more emphasis on the politics during which King Arthur ruled (Le 96). While the majority of the other King Arthur films are formed with mystical aspects in mind, this film provides a very realistic method by removing magic and introducing context. The film definitely provides the viewers with a different and fresh take on the story. Viewers are not strange in the setting of Camelot and it appears that every year the story of King Arthur is being repeated in some form of a new television show or a new movie. However, even with almost a hundred adaptations, the story of King Arthur is very complicated that a person can never tend to become bored of it because of the numerous sword-fighting battles, romance and sorcery actions which happens in the film
In the most current adaptations of Arthurian works, the action, and fighting acts are the major attention made on the plot and they tend to substitute the historical exactness, there is no good illustration of this other than the film of 2004 ‘King Arthur’ featuring Keira Knightly (Foster et al 3). It appears to be the most current films about the Arthurian periods which contain a lot of historical inexactness and are evidently shown in the first credits of the film ‘King Arthur.’ Historians have come to a conclusion and agreed widely that Arthur was not centered upon a physical individual, however, it was more widely believed to be a myth. This film spent a lot of time displaying battle acts and eventually ran short of time for any wizardry, character development and the love relationship between Lancelot, Guinevere, and Arthur. This was considered to be odd since these three items are major constituents of the majority of typical Arthurian texts. It appears like the turn of the century the adaptations of Arthurian have changed into bland action films.
King Arthur, Merlin, Excalibur, Guinevere, and Lancelot are engraved very hard into the common conscience. As standards, they do not require numerous explanations when the writer chooses to leave them into any story they want to say (Le 96). However, there are numerous things which have not been observed nearly enough of when that thing occurs. There are numerous versions of the King Arthur Story and it is quite impossible to keep track. However, this diversity means that there is much more to grasp other than Arthur, his sword, and romantic life. Paradoxically, for all complaint of the BBC’s Merlin, it did not employ everything it stumbled on that appeared vaguely Arthurian (Martins 15). That is not the case with most of the film adaptations which depend on the same things again and again. Spending less time with Guinevere, King Arthur and Lancelot is considered to be a cornerstone of the many modern Arthurian adaptations.
There is also another adapted version of origin stories in later stories whereby the mother of Merlin is a virgin whereas his father is a demon. Merlin is envisioned as a kind of Damien-style antichrist. He is although baptized and he obtains his powers from his unusually heavy metal birth. Merlin also develops his prophecies and bails even before King Arthur shows up. This is a greater film adaptation which removes merlin out of the picture before King Arthur assumes power. This adaptation makes everyone try to think what Merlin meant. King Arthur film has been praised for visual style and the film endows the story with religious hypocrisy, cultural freedom, modern interpretations of colonialism, class division and feminism (Martins 16).
The legend of Arthur together with his Knights of the Round Table has infused a culture which is very deep in that it is not likely to for a person to meet someone who resides in the western region and does not understand even a little information about the tale of King Arthur (Foster et al 4). For a very long period of time, there have been numerous attempts to convert the myths of King Arthur into a continuous television show or film, however, these have greatly been serious failures with a few notable exemptions. Even those individuals adapting to the King Arthur stories for their personal audience in the 13th century realized that defeat and battle can only get a person very far with an audience. When writers decided to write their individual version of the popular stories, King Arthur was largely ignored in their writings since he was not a romantic hero. King Arthur was to head a kingdom and ruling a kingdom does not provide time for adventure. The intention of these writers was to bring out the myths of King Arthur to a broad audience and the only manner they could do so is to leave Arthur behind. Instead, they focused their whole attention on the world and characters which bordered King Arthur, thereby offering new life to Tristan, Isolde, Percival and Lancelot.
King Arthur turned out to be a figurehead and a wise leader who sent his army to go into the world in order to spread the message of Camelot and also to obtain adventure somewhere else. A story of a robust supporting cast which does not focus attention on the king is what makes the story of King Arthur from becoming stale. In this instance, television adaptations are the first to be thought of since they are capable of taking time to examine more broadly and deeply into the setting of Camelot, examining the era in the characters who surrounded King Arthur and those enemies who tried to intimidate him and his court (Martins 19). King Arthur movie tries to basically adopt the myths as they were expressed although the movie fails to state that the Excalibur is not the Sword in the stone. Therefore, it is possible to develop an adaptation of the myths of King Arthur which do not suck. The biggest challenges of Arthur do not lie with the Saxon armies, fierce intimidation of his own nephew or the Black Knights, however, the challenge is in the audience who are promptly tired of observing the same stories expressed again and again.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
As time progresses by adaptation are formed, they continue to further go astray from the typical Arthurian text. The latest film adaptation of the Arthurian Legends is ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.’ The director of this film was called Guy Ritchie and was known as a gangster. As usual, the film is considered to be historically inaccurate and mainly comprises of fighting or battle scenes (Foster et al 4). The greatest shock from this adaptation was the elimination of the iconic characters and the introduction of new players who had no connection to the actual legends. There was no Lancelot, Merlin, and Guinevere in this adaptation and without these characters in the plot of the film, it cannot be even recognized as a story about Arthurian works. With the frequency at which recent adaptations are drifting from the classical Arthurian literature, upcoming adaptations will not even mention the classical texts at all.
Both King Arthur and King Arthur: Legend of the sword films try to explain a narrative of a vicious warrior who leads his men to obtain freedom from its oppressors. However, since both films entail excellently-short battle series and a king who is capable of fulfilling his duties as a conqueror and protector, the films do not manage to grab the viewers and hold on. This is because of the continuous battles which do not provide a lot of time for nuanced character development.
Merlin was believed to be a wonderful thriller into the vague world of the wise old wizard stories. Instead of following the common coming-of-age of Arthur, the series was concentrated on humanity, power struggles and magic from the perspective of Merlin. Sam Neill took every act as an adult Merlin thereby making Arthur just a reflection in this adaptation and this eventually surprised the Arthurian classicists. Merlin brought together a robust cast in order to replicate its newly adapted peripheral characters.
Adaptations of Camelot
Camelot is among one of the shortest and latest on-screen adaptation of the Arthurian legends. Regardless of its weak discussion, this one-season series covered a distinct way of focusing attention on emotional detail and harsh visual aesthetics. In spite of lacking authoritative and cohesive principle, the Arthurian legends have undergone for centuries, adapted numerous periods across a mass of media (Le 99). Camelot is meant to bring out the brother-sister conflict to a completely new level. When King Uther is killed as a result of poisoning, Merlin searches for his unknown son Arthur to assist him in becoming the King of Camelot. Morgana who is the half-sister of Arthur thinks that she is the rightful successor and develops an association with King Lot in order to try and obtain control of the throne.
These film adaptions are important in terms of gauging the enduring power of the Arthurian legends. The frequency and variety of the usages of the themes of Arthurian legends have in shows approves the manner in which these legends are deeply embedded in the western culture and psyche. However, the initial literary examples showing King Arthur comprised of disjointed cables, numerous adaptations have tried to impose unintended and linear narrative structure into the mythos such as the Lancelot-Grail Cycle (Martins 21). Regardless of the changing historical contexts and socio-cultural which influence and surrounds each adaptation, specific major aspects of the Camelot mythos continue. Certain characters appear in all variant and are developed to suit the responsiveness of the target audience. This will certainly comprise of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere as prohibited lovers, Morgan le Fay as the conniving adversary, Merlin as the wizardly mentor, the trusted followers of King Arthur who are the Knights of the Round Table and Mordred who is the destroyer of Camelot.
In addition, specific iconic events and moments are conserved such as Lancelot and Guinevere are engaged in illegal affairs, Mordred and King Arthur fight with each other during the battlefields bringing about the collapse of Camelot (Foster et al 4). While these specific instances might alter from version to version, their happenings within the narrative are normal. The mechanisms work as mooring points in the establishment of a generally homogeneous narrative which surpasses classical sources in popular culture. The most current film adaptation is the Starz’s aborted Camelot and the BBC’s Merlin which assists as an appropriate illustration of the manners in which these anchors might be employed in the film in order to create a sense of familiarity for the viewers (Martins 17). They also counterbalance any creative and visual divergence from the norm such as the supposed Merlin’s protagonists being shown as a young learner instead of an older learner of experience guiding king Arthur during the course of his journey. However, these repetition patterns are not restricted entirely to direct film adaptations of the story of King Arthur.
In the last few years, Arthurian descriptions have been appropriated by film series which do not have generic or ontological associations with Camelot. In science narrative, superhero stories and urban fantasy reference to the Arthurian collection form a complex association between texts which are seemingly not related. According to John Fiske, such references are probable since they do not need any complex detailed information of the legends themselves (Martins 22). The connoted adaptation of Camelot limits itself to intrusion and subtext and depending on the common knowledge of the viewer in order to establish a cognitive association while at the same time, evading any direct authentication of the Arthurian legends. On the other hand, the denoted adaptation of Camelot clearly embeds the characters and symbols of the Arthurian legends into the continuing story and thus developing a sense of linear continuity which extends from Camelot into nowadays. In other words, the Arthurian series which employ connoted adaptations tend to create relationships through symbol and metaphor while demoting Camelot to myth. Denoted adaptation deliberates a real or historical position onto King Arthur thereby folding Camelot and every one of its related legends into a pre-narrative history of other imaginary worlds. Therefore, these words of intertextuality are a natural product of the manner in which individuals think of fiction and are not entirely exclusive to materials of Arthurian legends (Le 101). One of the major explanations for the continuing popularity of the Arthurian mythos and its enduring varieties of adaptation is because the main narrative provides a substitute to a widespread pattern in the fantastic genres.
The uses of Arthurian patterns have a clearly bad circumstance since they are developed to weaken the heroic themes widely believed to be integral in the Camelot mythos (Martins 25). The need for sedition cannot account for all actions of adaptation but many indirect and direct uses are cast in a confident light. The series is not centered on Camelot together with its residents however they still might raise echoes of the legend as an honor rather than criticism and the viewer is capable of appreciating and comprehending these series distinctly when observed through Arthurian settings.
Whether the intent is positive or negative, the adaptation of Arthurian contexts is a specific and thoughtful choice being motivated by something which is greater than the relative easy need to pay respect to a popular and widely known popular legend. Through the formation of implicit and explicit links to Camelot, these serialized narratives are capable of being briefly distancing themselves from the excessively familiar structure of departure at the same time lacking to compromise their personal premises. Whether these film adaptations preserve or dismiss Arthurian values, their availability shows that the Camelot’s environment offers a fertile and robust alternative for the establishment of heroic narratives (Le 105).
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
This animated adaptation narrows in on the relationship between King Arthur and Merlin who is the sorcerer and also the adventures which are established upon in order to assist Arthur to become a king (Martins 24).