Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

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Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby ShyViolet » May 12th, 2017, 7:33 pm

"It is written among the limitless constellations of the celestial heavens, and in the depths of the emerald seas....the world which we see is an outward and visible dream of an inward and invisible reality."

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Randall » May 13th, 2017, 1:26 am

Well, no. Just no. Even the article calls it a "crummy" film.

Wart being Arthur was a twist? That's news to me.

Wart is only King for a few seconds in the film. How could it possibly be the definitive King Arthur film? Wart, sure. King Arthur, no.

I'll go with Excalibur.

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Ben » May 13th, 2017, 3:02 am

I go with Unidentified Flying Oddball, released in the UK and Europe under the much better title The Spaceman And King Arthur.

Sure, it's not the legend. But Kenneth More makes a great older Arthur in a terrific performance, and Ron Moody's Merlin comes off as being the charlatan magician that he probably would have been.

Plus, y'know, Excalibur can be a real trog to sit through... ;)

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Dan » May 13th, 2017, 9:30 am

Clearly the definitive King Arthur movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. :wink:

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Dacey » May 13th, 2017, 1:25 pm

I've somehow never seen Excalibur. But Camelot is really, really good!

Also, I have a certain soft spot for Quest for Camelot. Sorry?
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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby ohmahaaha » May 13th, 2017, 1:41 pm

I enjoy the film, to be sure: it can be a challenge to find a truly "bad" Disney film. The Wizard Duel is the best thing about this movie; excellent animation, of course since it was done by well-seasoned pros, and beautiful backgrounds. The songs were below par, IMO, and the ending seems very clumsy and abrupt. I would say that the "definitive" King Arthur movie is yet to be made.

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby EricJ » May 13th, 2017, 2:43 pm

ohmahaaha wrote:I enjoy the film, to be sure: it can be a challenge to find a truly "bad" Disney film. The Wizard Duel is the best thing about this movie; excellent animation, of course since it was done by well-seasoned pros, and beautiful backgrounds. The songs were below par, IMO, and the ending seems very clumsy and abrupt.

Even worse, in trying to be "bumbling, but with promise", Wart comes off as rather a dim little spud:
He does almost nothing for most of the movie except play audience to Merlin stealing the scenes, and trying to get through Merlin's tests, with his help, and except for one moment where he sticks up for Merlin, doesn't say or do anything that particularly suggests he has any leadership initiative whatsoever.
In the last little scene where we do see him as king, we see him in a crown, throne and robe that don't fit, and we're not persuaded out of the idea that it really MIGHT have been an accident after all...

In admitting the movie was "crummy", the article explains Walt was losing interest in animation, and he handed the story to Bill Peet to pretty much handle for him.
The result did badly in theaters, and Walt hated it, to the point that he fired Peet (except for coming back to finish Jungle Book), and was determined to have hands-on control for the next big property the animation studio was working on. Fortunately, at the time, that happened to be Mary Poppins, y'all. :D

I would say that the "definitive" King Arthur movie is yet to be made.

Even the article admits that an overwhelming majority would say Excalibur is THE definitive King Arthur movie--But it was rated R (a PG cut did play TV, not sure about theaters), so it wasn't the first one we saw as kids, and just chick-imprinted on the first incarnation we did see that told us the story.
Which explains why most generationally-placed movies have such personal hold with People Who Don't Know Any Better. And let's be honest, even Richard Harris in "Camelot" didn't devote a third of the movie to funny witches who turn into purple dragons.

Ben wrote:Plus, y'know, Excalibur can be a real trog to sit through... ;)

(Think you mean a slog, unless it's a caveman Joan Crawford is looking after. :P )

On the disk commentary, in the scene where Lancelot swears loyalty to Arthur after being defeated, John Boorman says that the scene could have looked SO ridiculous on paper, but the actors play the Mallory so straightforwardly without irony, you buy into the whole Round Table ethic immediately.
That's one thing that's missing from Guy Ritchie's Hollywood screenwriter-trope attempt to be cool ("He grew up on the streets!"), namely that Arthur had to start out as poor but honest squire and hero-worship his "noble" brother Kay and the knightly code.
Aside from TH White's book attempts to be "satirical", in Disney's version, Sir Ector and Kay seem like the only thing that keep the movie in chivalry period, and they're the antagonists.

I'll confess, my first memory of hearing Merlin's name was from Disney's version, but at least I learned to appreciate other versions.
Oh, you know a survivor of the 80's Sci-Fantasy Summer of Love, when they still get wide-eyed nostalgic chills at the very sound of "Siegfried's Funeral"--There may have been earlier attempts at sword-and-sorcery by 1981, but the last five minutes of Excalibur just felt like it had ushered in an epic movie-historical Era. One of those moments you always remember which theater you saw it in: :shock:

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Dan » May 14th, 2017, 10:16 am

IMDb has a poll running of which film is the best King Arthur film right now, actually. As of writing, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is running away with it. :lol:

Sword in the Stone is down in 6th at the moment with Quest for Camelot just barely in the top ten.

Current Top 10 Standings:
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - 1015 votes
2. Excalibur (1981) - 801
3. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) - 743
4. First Knight (1995) - 449
5. King Arthur (2004) - 345
6. The Sword in the Stone (1963) - 261
7. The Last Legion (2007) - 66
8. The Mists of Avalon (2001) - 49
9. Camelot (1967) - 42
10. Quest for Camelot (1998) - 24

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Randall » May 14th, 2017, 12:00 pm

I haven't seen a few of those, but I suspect that we are indeed still waiting to see the ultimate King Arthur movie. I think Excalibur comes close, while films like First Knight tried to reinvent things too much.

But what about 1954's Knights of the Round Table? Again, I haven't seen it, but it looks pretty faithful to the legend.

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Dan » May 14th, 2017, 7:20 pm

Based on the poll, it's in a three-way tie currently for 14th with the 1997 version of Prince Valiant and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Ben » May 15th, 2017, 3:03 am

Bless those 24 people who voted for Quest For Camelot.

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Re: Why Sword in the Stone remains the definitive King Arthur movie

Postby Dan » May 16th, 2017, 9:21 am

It's now up to 57. :mrgreen: