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King Arthur - Preview



Preview by: Jack Foley

FILM-MAKERS have a tendency to divide the Camelot legend into two interpretations.

The romantic view is best-served by Camelot, which, for many, remains the definitive version of the story thanks to Richard Harris’ pitch-perfect turn as the tragic king, while First Knight, with Richard Gere and Sean Connery, attempted to breathe new life, and some swashbuckle, into the legend.

Other movies, such as John Boorman’s bloody Excalibur, throw a Braveheart spin on things, chronicling the legend in grim, realistic fashion, and completely doing away with the romance which filled the likes of Camelot.

The latest film version of the classic story looks set to fall into both categories, however, given the hype currently surrounding one of the Summer’s blockbusters.

King Arthur is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Keira Knightley (as Guinevere), Clive Owen (as Arthur), Ioan Gruffudd (as Lancelot), Stephen Dillane (as Merlin), and Ray Winstone (as Bors). It is directed by Antoine Fuqua, of Training Day fame.

It is said to be based on a 15th Century account of the British King, namely ‘Le Morte D'Arthur’, by Sir Thomas Malory, who viewed Arthur as a British revolutionary against Roman rule. It will also strip away the magic and fantasy, in favour of the blood and guts of heroism and war.

According to Bruckheimer, in an interview with Empire Online: "We're taking what Malory researched, which was the real King Arthur, who was a Roman. His name was Arturius. Rome had conquered the world, and they had their legions in Britain. The British didn't want them there."

The film will also focus on the history and politics of the period during which Arthur ruled, as opposed to the mystical elements of the tale on which past Arthur films have focused.

The trailer has recently been released and features a voice-over, plus plenty of footage of the cast, including Knightley as a Celtic warrior queen, daubed in war paint, ready for battle (the actress reportedly had to endure boot camp in preparation for her role).

Given Bruckheimer’s reputation for delivering the blockbuster for the Summer, it is difficult to know how audiences will take to this latest venture.

Many pundits were writing off Pirates of the Caribbean this time last year (given that it was based upon a theme park ride), while his glorification of the events at Pearl Harbor failed to generate the record-breaking Box Office bonanza that many were predicting when the teaser trailers first appeared.

Fuqua, too, has yet to establish himself as a genuine director of worth, or a mere one-hit wonder, given that his Training Day was followed up with the hopelessly patriotic Tears of the Sun.

King Arthur continues to capture the interest and fire the imagination of many history fans; but with Merlin’s spells cast into the background, it could well lack the necessary magic to make it a success.

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