King Arthur (movie)

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A movie poster for King Arthur.
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A movie poster for King Arthur.

King Arthur is a film first released in the United States on June 28, 2004, dubbed as "The Untold True Story That Inspired The Legend".

The makers of this film claim that they are presenting a historically accurate version of the Arthurian legends, from supposedly new archaelogical findings. While this is subject to debate, the film itself does provide a (highly inaccurate) view of early British history, and the origins of the Arthurian legend from it, which had only been showcased in cinema once before. That film was King Arthur, The Young Warlord, a series of episodes from a 1970s British TV series, Arthur of the Britons, cobbled together for theatrical showing.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Arthur (as portrayed by Clive Owen) is portrayed as a Roman officer, the son of a Roman father and a Celtic mother, who leads a military force of Sarmatian cavalry in Britain at the close of Roman occupation (which had, historically, ended almost half a century before the date given in the film).

As Arthur and his men are expecting to be finally discharged from the service of the Empire, they are dispatched on a final and possibly suicidal mission to rescue an important Roman family from impending capture by the Saxons. In the course of this mission, Arthur encounters and rescues Guinevere (Keira Knightley), a Woadish princess, from the imprisonment and torture of the Roman citizen he is charged with rescuing.

In due course, Arthur and his remaining men forsake Roman citizenship and form an alliance between the Romano-British and the Woads to fight the invading Saxons.

It would appear that the Arthur depicted in the film is based most closely upon Ambrosius Aurelianus, the Romano-Briton who fought against the Saxons in the 5th century, and was probably the leader of the Romano-British and Celts at the Battle of Mons Badonicus, and events in the film are similar to speculations of those historical events. However, Arthur's full name in the film is Artorius Castus, suggesting a connection to Lucius Artorius Castus, a historical Roman active in Britain in the 2nd century.

Despite a promising cast and production team, the film opened to mixed reviews.

The movie was adapted by David Franzoni and directed by Antoine Fuqua. Besides the actors mentioned above, it also stars Ioan Gruffudd, Hugh Dancy, Ray Winstone, Stellan Skarsgård and Til Schweiger.

Historical inaccuracy

As has been mentioned, the film actually has numerous errors, despite claiming to be historically accurate. More examples:

  • The Saxons use crossbows. Historically, they used bows and spears instead.

Trivia

  • The Saxon leaders, Cerdic and Cynric, are historical and actually survived the battle of Mons Badonicus. They went on to beome the first kings of Wessex.
  • Dagonet, the knight who dies in the battle of the frozen lake, appears in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur - as Arthur's court jester.
  • Portrayed in this film as about the same age, Lancelot and Galahad are actually father and son, acording to traditonal versions.
  • This is possibly the only Arthurian film in which Lancelot dies and Arthur does not! In all other films, either Lancelot survives, as in First Knight, or they are both killed at the end, as in Excalibur.

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