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King Arthur was an excellent movie. Both Arthur and his nights were depicted as noble, extremely competent and heroic. Other than some trivial "manly" dialog, they were depicted as men of honor and stature. The movie's dialog was very literate and the storyline was consistent and well paced. I even like the way Christianity was portrayed. The film went out of its way to show the barbarism and cruelty of the Christian clerics. I know it juxtaposed Arthur as an example of benevolent Christianity, but the film showed the harbingers of the inquisitorial mindset that would plague Christian Europe for centuries. The acting was excellent, the cinematography vivid and captivating (especially the images of Hadrian's Wall), and Hanz Zimmer's soundtrack was simultaneously powerful and beautiful.

I found it heroic and refreshing.

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Here is an Objectivist blogger's review of the film and his take on why it has not been doing well at the box office. I fully agree with him. This is a very philosophical movie. I would think more Objectivist's would have been attracted to it.

It beets the crap out of Spiderman philosophically.

http://theindividualist.blogs.com/nouspoet...thurian_ca.html

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The base trombone must have been very well mic'd because it sounded like he was rockin out, which I didn't mind one bit :)

I did find it intersting that there was a good amount of philosophical content, since it's rare these days. Plus the heroic depiction of the characters was good. Overall I liked it.

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The problem is, for me, it wasn't really that much of a heroic depiction of the characters. I don't need every movie I see to have a heroic element (rarely do they anyways), but certain story lines you expect one (such as King Arthur). The movie takes out a lot of the heroic element by trying to make it too realistic. When a movie that tells you they are going to tell you the REAL story that the MYTH was based on, that is usually a warning sign for me (ie. King Arthur or Troy).

Neither was a bad movie, but they could have been much better.

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The problem is, for me, it wasn't really that much of a heroic depiction of the characters.  I don't need every movie I see to have a heroic element (rarely do they anyways), but certain story lines you expect one (such as King Arthur).  The movie takes out a lot of the heroic element by trying to make it too realistic.  When a movie that tells you they are going to tell you the REAL story that the MYTH was based on, that is usually a warning sign for me (ie. King Arthur or Troy).

Neither was a bad movie, but they could have been much better.

I have read your post and I realy can't make heads or tails of it. King Arthur not heroic? Too realistic? Huh?

Much of the movie was spent on establishing Arthur as a man of principle, as a man who fought for the type of world where "every man is born free." When he realizes that Rome no longer embodies that principle, he fights for the preservation of whatever civilzed influence Rome had on the Britains as against the rampaging Saxons.

As for the Arthurian myth, I find historical accruacy unneccessary for the enjoyment of this movie. Its true, they departed form historical deatil, but the story they told was in a general sense historically accurate; ie Rome did pull out of Britain after four centuries of rule and the vaccum they left opened the way for Saxon invasion, an invasion that would have tremendous consequences for later history. But the tale itself was very plausable and thoroughly believable. And Arthur was one of the most explicitly moral and heroic characters Hollywood has produced in years.

Could it have been better? Sure. But as opposed to Troy which eliminated any of the deeper moral themes of the Illiad, King Arthur offered more good philosophical content than I would expect from this culture. And sadly, that is why it is suffering at the box office. Arthur was a morally certain man without feet of clay, and thus unappealing to the popular culture.

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My fault was with the attempt to be historically accurate. When I think of King Arthur, I think of "Le Morte d'Arthur" and also childhood stories about the "Knights of the Round Table". The movie actually had little to do with the stories of King Arthur, except for some well placed references to show where the myth "got" that idea from.

I'll grant you the acting is actually better than some other films I've seen recently (not saying much), the movie can be exciting, and the "moral themes" were relatively good. But I think we forget how good movies can be, after watching so many modern movies, and immediately cling to something like King Arthur as if its the best thing since sliced bread. Just because someone says he's fighting for freedom, then fights and makes a few other statements, doesn't make it a great movie.

For me, abandoning the stories of King Arthur was enough to ruin it.

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My fault was with the attempt to be historically accurate...  For me, abandoning the stories of King Arthur was enough to ruin it.

I agree. That whole thing about "historical accuracy" was pretty ridiculous. There were some nice things about the movie philosophically, but I have to say that overall I thought it was kind of boring. That may have just been because I was already very tired when I went to see it. But I have to say, when I saw the credit at the end that it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, I thought, "That explains it!"

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Argive: thanks for starting the thread. I wouldn't have seen King Arthur if I hadn't read your first post. The ads and previews for the film really didn't do the film justice.

I really enjoyed the film. The departure from standard lore was quite interesting. I liked seeing standard characters and elements put together in a very different way. The magic and mysticism was replaced with a struggle of noble men to be free.

I especially liked the unapologetic heroism. No feet of clay here.

And Keira Knightley -- wow.

This movie and Spiderman 2 are like night and day. Peter Parker (in the movie) is a whiny little wimp. All he does is whine. And you can't root for a hero who whines. By contrast, Arthur has some internal conflicts (some, but hardly earth-shattering) yet doesn't whine on and on about it.

I recommend the movie, but I wouldn't call it an all-time great.

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Yeah, but what the hell was up with her outfit? You know the one I mean.  :yarr:

Outfit? Which do you.... oh yeah. :D

Which adjective best fits, do you think? Cute? Beautiful? Nah. Lusty. Definitely lusty.

I think it was created by the same gang who did the new "Catwoman" outfit. ;)

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Outfit?  Which do you.... oh yeah.  ;)

Which adjective best fits, do you think?  Cute? Beautiful? Nah.  Lusty.  Definitely lusty.

I was thinking, "distractingly out of place." Can't they come up with a sexy costume that's not quite so absurd?

I think it was created by the same gang who did the new "Catwoman" outfit.  :yarr:

That one too.

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Argive: thanks for starting the thread.  I wouldn't have seen King Arthur if I hadn't read your first post.  The ads and previews for the film really didn't do the film justice.

And Keira Knightley -- wow.

This movie and Spiderman 2 are like night and day.  Peter Parker (in the movie) is a whiny little wimp.  All he does is whine.  And you can't root for a hero who whines.  By contrast, Arthur has some internal conflicts (some, but hardly earth-shattering) yet doesn't whine on and on about it. 

I recommend the movie, but I wouldn't call it an all-time great.

Ed from OC: thaks, I appreciate it. If you visit the link I gave in one of the first posts, you will find an Objectivist blogger who reccommended and reviewed the film. I was sold on it from him. So, by extension, he is the one you should be thanking. Visit his site and let him know.

As for it not being an all time great. I agree. For example, IMO, I don't think it was as good as Gladiator which was another movie with a Franzoni screenplay. But, as I said, in today's culture, when you get a character with such explicitily stated heroism, its cause for celebration. And as a result, Clive Owen has become one of my favorite actors.

This movie boasted one of the best lines I've heard, said in relation to Christianity, "I don't like anything that puts a man on his knees." If the movie only had that line and nothing else, it still would have been a big hit with me.

A note about David Franzoni who was the screenwriter for the film. After checking the IMDB, I learned that he wrote the screenplay for two of my other favorite films: Gladiator and Amistad. I think Frazoni is a rarity in Hollywood. He is a defender of Western Civilization and he has a very pro-Classical view of history and its evernts. Amistad had some amazing dialog during the Supreme Court Scene at the end. Anthony Hopkins was incredible delivering them, but give Franzoni credit for writing them. Also, if you compare the way Franzoni depicts Rome in both Arthur and Gladiator, its clear that he idealizes Rome as an aspiration at greatness that failed in practice but succeeded in the hearts, minds and souls of its most noble men, ie Maximus and Arturious. Also, take note that Franzoni is currently writing the screenplay for another Roman epic, namely 'Hanibal' which stars and is produced by Vin Diesel. I am greatly looking forward to see how he depicts one of Rome's greatest figures, Publius Cornelius Scipio.

You are so right in relation to Spiderman. In terms of the heroism, there is no comparison b/w the two movies. Spiderman is a confused boy, Arthur, a morally certain man.

As for Keira Knightley. Its hard to believe that she was the second banana to Natalie Portman in the Star Wars movies. Natalie Portman may be beautiful, but she can't act her way out of a paper bag. She has nowhere near the depth or range of Knightley. And considering that Knightley is only 20 years old, I would argue that this girl is going to be one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

Ash: what costume are you referring to? The one where she is painted in blue with the tatoos? If that is the one, I don't know what your objection is. Read any historical account of the ancient Picts and other Celtic tribes and you will see that there is no exageration there. In fact, the ancient Picts used to fight in the nude with nothing but blue paint on their skin. It was said the mere sight of them would strike fear into the Roman legions. The only reason why Rome prevailed was because of their great military organization and discipline. So in one sense, it can be said that by giving the Wodes (the films version of the Picts) any clothes at all the result "was distractingly out of place."

The two objections you have had to the film seem petty; a lack of precise historical accuracy and Guineveere's war outfit. If you don't like the film, fine. But pick on something substantive.

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The two objections you have had to the film seem petty; a lack of precise historical accuracy and Guineveere's war outfit. If you don't like the film, fine. But pick on something substantive.

Settle down. The "complaints" about Keira's costume were more of a joke than a serious criticism of the film. If you can't tell the difference, then that's your problem.

Edited by AshRyan
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  • 2 weeks later...

As far as the historical accuracy goes, I don't think you can criticise this film. There is very little known about the "real" Arthur (if he even existed) except that he was a Welsh King/Tribal leader in the 5th or 6th century and that he fought against the Saxons. It's not like Troy in any way, because Troy was based on a work of literature and this was attempting to base it's story on the actual Historical character of which we know very little. The works of literature from the 12th/13th century were pure fantasy and this is what most King Arthur films are based on, however as this makes no attempt to base it's story on the works of literature you can't really criticise any historical inaccuracies because we know virtually nothing about the real Arthur.

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As far as the historical accuracy goes, I don't think you can criticise this film. There is very little known about the "real" Arthur (if he even existed) except that he was a Welsh King/Tribal leader in the 5th or 6th century and that he fought against the Saxons. It's not like Troy in any way, because Troy was based on a work of literature and this was attempting to base it's story on the actual Historical character of which we know very little. The works of literature from the 12th/13th century were pure fantasy and this is what most King Arthur films are based on, however as this makes no attempt to base it's story on the works of literature you can't really criticise any historical inaccuracies because we know virtually nothing about the real Arthur.

Responding for myself since I believe I first brought up historical accuracy as an issue, I think you're missing the point. My point was not to criticize it for being innaccurate, but rather for claiming it had a relation to works of literature that were "pure fantasy" and then having really nothing to do with them. It makes no attempt to "base" its story on them, but it does try to show where the story got its ideas from, and does essentially claim that its the "real" version. For me, that's deceiving/frustrating. Maybe it would have been better, for me anyways, if they had simply given it another title, and not tried to smuggle in little "clever" bits about where the myth of the sword (for example) came from.

I wanted it based on those works of literature, not some third rate modern telling of what "really" happened.

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In essence the works of literature were probably based on the real events which were recorded in writing (I forget who by) and were similar to what this film depicted them as. The legend has basically been re-written by each generation, especially in the 12th/13th century where the legend was exploited for political gain. Personally I think it's fair enough to make a film called King Arthur which is about the "real" character behind the legend, though as I've said they are never going to know anything about the actual character of Arthur, but merely what he may have been like judging from the time period/situation that he lived in.

From a purely aesthetic point of view I can agree with you however, the enjoyment of the King Arthur legend comes from the various retellings and not from the actual historical figure. Therefore one could question the motives for making such a film.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just saw the film the other day, and I really enjoyed it. Although, unfamiliar with the story, I was annoyed that Lancelot had to die, because I really liked his character, and was frustrated that Guinevere didn't get together with Lancelot, as I found the movie hinted at an attraction there. I did not like Arthur himself very much though. But all together, it was a nice change from all the other bad movies out there.

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I just saw the film the other day, and I really enjoyed it. Although, unfamiliar with the story, I was annoyed that Lancelot had to die, because I really liked his character, and was frustrated that Guinevere didn't get together with Lancelot, as I found the movie hinted at an attraction there. I did not like Arthur himself very much though. But all together, it was a nice change from all the other bad movies out there.

I enjoyed the movie very, very much. The fellow who referred us to the movie, Dare Balogun, also called the Lancelot character the movie's voice of reason.

**SPOILER**

I, too, was very upset to see him die.

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  • 4 months later...

I noticed that this movie was just released on DVD, and since I missed it at the theatre I picked it up. Just got finished watching it.

I generally agree with those who've praised it on this forum, but I also agree with the comments that it is uneven and a little slow in parts. I caught myself thinking a couple of time "What Ayn Rand could have done with the dialogue in this movie!" Even as it was, it was still head and shoulders above most current movies.

As I write this I realize too that parts of it remind me of Mark Twain's "Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" -- especially the part about freeing the prisoners from the dungeon. I've always liked that book -- it had a very similar take on the negative influence of the church.

One of the things that bothered me about the movie (maybe I'm just dense) was that it left some things ambiguous that I wanted to know more about. Best example: Who was this "Pelagius" (sp?)? A Greek tutor? Was he Christian or Aristotelian or both? Was he murdered in Rome by the Church? (I heard the dialogue with the Pope's godchild so I picked up that he had been killed, but I missed it if there was any more detail than that.) Is there some historical character he was based on? And was Guenivere supposed to be Merlin's daughter? Or to have been captured from anywhere or from anyone in particular? And the long-haired child who attached himself to one of the knights -- was he anyone in particular, or was he there just to serve as a human interest focus?

Maybe all those questions were answered and I missed them, or maybe the movie didn't consider them important enough to be answered. Regardless, still a good movie.

[Edit - I see Pelagius was a historical figure who was considered a heretic because he emphasized free will and questioned the doctrine of original sin.]

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I generally agree with those who've praised it on this forum, but I also agree with the comments that it is uneven and a little slow in parts.  I caught myself thinking a couple of time "What Ayn Rand could have done with the dialogue in this movie!"  Even as it was, it was still head and shoulders above most current movies.

Agreed. Nearly all movies are mixed cases, and that's the context I take with me when I see a movie. I hope to see some elements push it above the norm; I fear some will pull it below.

If I praise or recommend a movie, it is with the implicit qualification that I am looking at it from that perspective. And King Arthur definitely has some elements that make it better than most.

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*SPOILERS*

I saw the movie. What I liked the most about the movie was how well it dramatized a barbarian invasion, and the relief of the people when saved from it (even if temporarily).

I agree that ideas were an important aspect of the movie, and actually that relates to what I liked the least about it: a Roman centurion who is preaching about human rights and equality, first of all, and a twenty year old barbarian girl being the one who originates these ideas and and plants them in his mind. I absolutely hate how remarkable and spectacular ideas are trivialized in movies like Spartacus, and now King Arthur, where plain unedicated and unenlightened slaves or random Roman battalion-commanders suddenly break out into preaching about how human beings have rights, and how these are inalienable, and how everyone is equal. Well with geniuses like that, who needs John Locke and Ayn Rand? Also, Aristotle by comparison looks like a moron, if a barbarian Celtic girl barely old enough for marriage, can already figure it out, while he can't. What an idiot! Right? I mean if it's all so obvious, and these plain folk like Spartacus and Arturius already got it all figured out, then it completely trivializes the incredible rarity and difficulty of achieving these ideas. And in fact, though everyone today thinks they "got" what inalienable rights are all about, and that it's so obvious to them that it must have been equally obvious to Arturius, I bet very few of the general populace today truly understand what equality and individual rights are all about. I mean if these people create titles like "Women's Rights Movement" and "Civil Rights Movement" that just shows how little they know about what they preach. "Civil" rights? Come on.

So not only are the incredibly tender and precious ideas like individual rights completely trivialized by modern Spartacus and King Arthur movies, but the Roman Empire is also sneered at by Arturius for not living up to his "obvious" ideas. They are so obvious that everyone must have them, then how cruel and evil the Romans must be for expressely rejecting these ideas and not establishing a society based on them? And, not only does Arturius choose to abandon Rome at her direst hour of need, when the pitch of barbarian invasions has reached a climax and she needs all her soldiers for one final desperate grasp for existence. But adding insult to injury, he abandons her for the primitive society of the Celts, where, unlike Rome, we are led to believe that all Celts live in a state of harmony and peace, live with virtue, and have thoughtful philosophic discussions about individual rights, being the enlightened and the precious people of the world, with a culture and values to fight and die for, and are the only society that is worth saving, for Arturius, unlike Rome's Evil Empire.

So as you can see, my complaint is not about the movie as a whole, but about one part, one important part. That makes the movie less than wonderful for me, the philosophic foundation for the theme, and the ease with which the main characters just break out into conversations about the obviousness of individual rights. A wheel is "obvious" too, but the Egyptians didn't have it even when building their great pyramids.

As for historical accuracy, there's more evidence than you might think, for a Roman centurion, during Rome's abandonment of Britain, defending native Celts against the marauding hordes of invading Saxons. Archaeologists have found inscriptions of a man called Arturius, have found evidence of a Roman leader for a Celtic army, reversing their losing war with the Saxons by a number of spectacular victories he achieves by training them in Roman discipline and army methods. Apparently even the site of one such major battle was found, where more than 100,000 Saxons got defeated by Arturius and his small but well-trained stock of Celtic recruits. I learned all this from History Channel - it can be wonderful sometimes.

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what I liked the least about it: a Roman centurion who is preaching about human rights and equality, first of all, and a twenty year old barbarian girl being the one who originates these ideas and and plants them in his mind. I absolutely hate how remarkable and spectacular ideas are trivialized in movies like Spartacus, and now King Arthur, where plain unedicated and unenlightened slaves or random Roman battalion-commanders suddenly break out into preaching about how human beings have rights, and how these are inalienable, and how everyone is equal. Well with geniuses like that, who needs John Locke and Ayn Rand? Also, Aristotle by comparison looks like a moron, if a barbarian Celtic girl barely old enough for marriage, can already figure it out, while he can't. What an idiot!

I agree with this point. For me, the scenes that really detract from the film are those were Guenevere and Lancelot are lecturing Arthur -- and getting the best of him -- and the viewer is left with no clue as to the proper resolution of those arguments. That might be acceptable in the beginning of the movie, but much of the problem with the movie is that the conflict is never resolved. For example, on the one hand it is clear that Lancelot is the "voice of reason" (as someone has already said) but on the other hand it is also clear that Lancelot ultimately has no clear philosophical framework, that he would have left Guenevere and the child to die in the prison, and that he doesn't really know what he's fighting for either.

And as Free Capitalist said, it's particularly irritating to hear Guenevere (in what comes across as a pretty darn condescending tone of voice) lecturing both Arthur and Lancelot, when it's clear that her own people have little appreciation of the good that Rome offered them. (And that "I won't let them rape you" comment has to be the most uncalled for line in the whole movie. Whoever put that line in is probably responsible for the unintelligibility of the script, and should be himself bricked up in Marius' dungeon.)

So what we're left with is Arthur clearly appearing to be the most heroic, but without any real confidence that he's got much more of a clue than anyone else about what he's fighting for or why.

In the end, the film FRAMES many important philosophical issues, but never resolves them. The heart of this movie should have been set up through those discussions between Arthur and Guenevere, but as they are those scenes are pretty darn close to unintelligible. Most of what you're left with is stabbing and slashing, and while it's good to see the good guys win, in the end you get the feeling that a great opportunity for a great movie has been missed.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I noticed that this movie was just released on DVD, and since I missed it at the theatre I picked it up.  Just got finished watching it.

I generally agree with those who've praised it on this forum, but I also agree with the comments that it is uneven and a little slow in parts.  I caught myself thinking a couple of time "What Ayn Rand could have done with the dialogue in this movie!"  Even as it was, it was still head and shoulders above most current movies.

As I write this I realize too that parts of it remind me of Mark Twain's "Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" -- especially the part about freeing the prisoners from the dungeon.  I've always liked that book -- it had a very similar take on the negative influence of the church. 

One of the things that bothered me about the movie (maybe I'm just dense) was that it left some things ambiguous that I wanted to know more about.  Best example:  Who was this "Pelagius" (sp?)?  A Greek tutor?  Was he Christian or Aristotelian or both?  Was he murdered in Rome by the Church? (I heard the dialogue with the Pope's godchild so I picked up that he had been killed, but I missed it if there was any more detail than that.)  Is there some historical character he was based on?    And was Guenivere supposed to be Merlin's daughter?  Or to have been captured from anywhere or from anyone in particular?  And the long-haired child who attached himself to one of the knights -- was he anyone in particular, or was he there just to serve as a human interest focus?

Maybe all those questions were answered and I missed them, or maybe the movie didn't consider them important enough to be answered.  Regardless, still a good movie.

[Edit - I see Pelagius was a historical figure who was considered a heretic because he emphasized free will and questioned the doctrine of original sin.]

I saw this film twice when it was in still in the theatres, and rented the DVD last weekend.

I now understand that you are writing about the 'Director's Cut,' which is superior to the studio-influenced cinema release.

Owing to this fact, I highly recommend this DVD to everyone. Even those who saw it while it played on the big screen.

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*SPOILERS*

.... what I liked the least about it: a Roman centurion who is preaching about human rights and equality, first of all, and a twenty year old barbarian girl being the one who originates these ideas and and plants them in his mind. I absolutely hate how remarkable and spectacular ideas are trivialized in movies like Spartacus, and now King Arthur, where plain unedicated and unenlightened slaves or random Roman battalion-commanders suddenly break out into preaching about how human beings have rights, and how these are inalienable, and how everyone is equal. Well with geniuses like that, who needs John Locke and Ayn Rand? Also, Aristotle by comparison looks like a moron, if a barbarian Celtic girl barely old enough for marriage, can already figure it out, while he can't. What an idiot!

Well, FC, while I really enjoy your posts on this site, I must remind you of a young, 31 year-old writer who told the tale of a 20-something year-old girl who imbued a Communist operative with ideas concerning the sanctity of "man's mind and his values."

Even if one were to complain that this writer's creation was fictional, one might also recall that art is life, not as it is, but as it ought to be.

And this writer's name? Ayn Rand. The book? We The Living.

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