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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visuals and soundtrack will knock your socks off
Within my memory, there've been only a couple films featuring the legend of King Arthur. However, one of them released in 1981, EXCALIBUR, is the standard by which all others, past and future, must be judged. It's positively stunning in its excellence, and a must-see for any devotee of the tale.

In a sense, EXCALIBUR is more a story of Merlin than Arthur since...
Published on 29 Dec 2002 by Joseph Haschka

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excaliblur
I'm keeping my review of this film strictly to the quality of the transfer (it's a given that if I've bought it again - third time, first on video, then DVD, now Blu Ray - that I love it):

It's visually and audibly better than the current DVD version, but that's about it. I doubt that we'll ever get anything better, so if you want the best quality currently...
Published on 27 Jun 2011 by Scott Dean


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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visuals and soundtrack will knock your socks off, 29 Dec 2002
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Excalibur [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Within my memory, there've been only a couple films featuring the legend of King Arthur. However, one of them released in 1981, EXCALIBUR, is the standard by which all others, past and future, must be judged. It's positively stunning in its excellence, and a must-see for any devotee of the tale.

In a sense, EXCALIBUR is more a story of Merlin than Arthur since Nicole Williamson's fabulous, unique portrayal of the former overshadows Nigel Terry's role as the latter. However, the film faithfully depicts the Arthurian legend from his conception and birth at Tintagel Castle, to his death at the hands of Mordred. In between are all the other elements of the story one would hope for and expect: Uther Pendragon, the Sword In the Stone, the Battle of Mount Badon, Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Sir Percival, the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Lady of the Lake, and Lady Morgana (a.k.a. Morgan La Fey).

A note of caution for parents of young children. At times, the film is intensely violent, bloody and sexual. (Gee, it sounds like any normal day at the office.) You are warned. And it's not a movie for squeamish adults, either.

The costuming is superb. The brilliant cinematography and film editing, combined with a magnificent soundtrack that includes "Carmina Burana" and "Tristan's Funeral March" (correction: "SIEGFRIED'S Funeral March") at just the right scenes, make EXCALIBUR absolutely awe-inspiring. You'll want to watch it over and over. (I've talked myself into wanting to view it again right now!) The final scene is one you'll wish you could extract from your TV screen and frame, with sound.

Oh, my! What a cinematic achievement!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excaliblur, 27 Jun 2011
By 
Scott Dean (Lincolnshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Excalibur (Blu-ray)
I'm keeping my review of this film strictly to the quality of the transfer (it's a given that if I've bought it again - third time, first on video, then DVD, now Blu Ray - that I love it):

It's visually and audibly better than the current DVD version, but that's about it. I doubt that we'll ever get anything better, so if you want the best quality currently available then grab this. But don't expect anything like what is now acceptable when it comes to most Blu Ray transfers of older films such as this one. It's saving grace is most definitely the John Boorman commentary.

Disappointed, but still the best quality currently available to buy.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars shimmering dazzling, 13 Mar 2005
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
I appear to write reviews only for deranged films with beautiful colours and mad actors-well once again I invite you to be ravished by wonderful cinematography, blood spattered axe weilding madmen,and more madder than you can possibly imagine Mr N Williamson (on top eye popping thespian overdrive).
If you "enjoyed" Gary Oldman in Fifth Element and The Third Stage Guild Navigator in Dune then add this to your collection at once.Hours of mad sword slashing fun and power mad lust crazed grubby snarling troglodytes in beautiful colour.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before "The Lord of the Rings", there was Excalibur, 3 Jun 2007
By 
E. Jorgensen (Tonsberg, NORWAY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
Anyone who really likes "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, will most likely enjoy this movie as well. "Excalibur" is over 25 years old, but this film stands the test of time. The costumes and locations are superb, and the battle scenes are both exciting and ravishing. The intense and beautifull music score makes this film truly magnificent. The actors in "Excalibur" are very good, especially Nicol Williamson and Gabriel Byrne. If you like action packed sword and sorcery films, then you should give this one a try. It's one of the very best, if not The Best.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excalibur is a magical journey, 17 Oct 2005
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
If you have any interest in the legends of King Arthur or the mystery of the Dark Ages in Britain, this film is a must-see. It takes you on a magical journey right into the heart of the myth, through stunning photography and the most awe-inspiring soundtrack. The fact that mostly unfamiliar actors are used adds to the experience, from unyielding warrior Uther Pendragon to dreamlike Merlin and charismatic Arthur himself. Ignore any poor reviews occasionally wheeled out. These critics clearly didn't "get it" and I feel sorry for them. I watch this film several times a year to reconnect with a visionary heroic world that puts present-day Britain to shame. Rise again, King Arthur, we need you now!
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The days of our kind are num-ber-ed, 8 Nov 2005
By 
David J. Smith (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
This is the story of the magic and mysticism in the tale of Arthur, as seen by John Boorman. The story starts with Uther Pendragon convincing Merlin to help him bed Ygraine, and ends with the return of excalibur to the Lake. It is also the story of Merlin, played excellently by Nicol Williamson with a massive vocal range, and the intrigue of Morgana (Helen Mirren in a seductive and evil role). Merlin muses both wryly and poignantly about a changing world in which magic is fading, the natural order is threatened with the arrogance of men, lamenting the "lachrymae mundi", while Arthur and his knights, wearing impossibly heavy armour, lop limbs of their enemies with big weapons. All to the hard-drinking monk's tune of Orff's "O Fortuna". What more could you want from a film, by turns whimsical, sad, mystical, violent, passionate, tender, mysterious and aloof? Speak the charm of making Merlin, set the world to rights.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forged by a god, foretold by a wizard, found by a man, 22 May 2005
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
A film classic based on Sir Thomas Malory's 1485 book "Le Morte D'Arthur". Everyone has a favorite part. Few remember the whole film. And we notice something more with each viewing.
When you first see Excalibur rising from the lake you know you are in fro a great cinema graphic movie.
We get our entire favorite King Author stories well spliced together of form one cohesive tale including the search for the Grail. The round table had a unique symbol in the center.
Some time is spent trying to recognize our favorite actors when they were young. Who would have guessed that Igrayne (Katrine Boorman) was in the film "Zardos" (1974) also produced by John Boorman.
Also trying to identify the music mostly Richard Wagner (from "Parsifal", "Tristan und Isolde" and "Götterdämmerung").
After viewing this film it is time to get a different view of the same stories with the film "The Mists of Avalon" (2001) or maybe Merlin (1998).
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream to some, A nightmare to others!, 11 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
For years, I only ever saw the beginning of this film. Gabriel Bryne is practically unrecognisable as the brutish Uther, in what must be one of his best acting performances. It's his lust for Igrayne that sets the film in motion. To satisfy his hunger, Uther must make a deal with the mercurial Merlin, which, needless to say, he later regrets.
So Arthur starts out on his hero's journey, in scenes quite similar to young Luke Skywalker's tutelage by Yoda in 'The Empire Strikes Back', with Arthur both beguiled and horrified by the creatures of the forest, featuring the ubiquitous owl present in such films of this period. After the boy king draws the sword from the stone, he is much in need of guidance. However, Merlin is an excellent teacher who seems to draw knowledge from Arthur rather than leading him to it. Yet it's not long before Arthur is seduced away from Merlin to other attractions, such as Guenevere. It's around about here that I usually stopped watching the film when I was younger. It was Boorman's battles that had first attracted me, so shiny and brutal as sword impales and thrusts armour.
It's true that Arthur's Round Table is rich and lush, but rather boring. A time of plenty, but very little drama, apart from Gawain's slander. Arthur does not hear Merlin warn him about Guenevere, and ignores the evidence of his own eyes, as Guenevere becomes a tease and a burden to all his men and in a bizarre and highly staged dance in Leondegrance's fortress. It's also taken time for me to like Nicholas Clay's performance as Lancelot. Cherie Lunghi as Guenevere has never really convinced me. The DVD edition makes her chirpy Irish accent even clearer, which is an irritation. Their romance is treated as on the level of a high school fling, the sort of thing that is done so much better in your average episode of Buffy each week. You squirm in your seat as Guenevere catches sight of Lancelot at the drawbridge of Camelot, with Morgana playing the role of bitchy friend. Clay's wig at the end is also quite embarrassing: did the make-up artist also work on Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Having said that, most of the other characters do grow old with a bit more grace. Of course, the main reason why their treacherous romance is so unconvincing is due to the fact that it is the only part of the film that feels rushed. I'm pretty sure Lot was supposed to be Gawain's father in Malory, but Ciaran Hinds looks no older than Liam Neeson here!
However, there are plenty of fine performances. Nicol Williamson has never played a better role than Merlin, and there are lots of other more familiar faces, like Patrick Stewart. It's the unknown actors who also catch the eye. Ciaran Hinds makes the most of a small role as Lot. Hinds is one of my favourite actors, and it's a pity he hasn't done much more film work like Neeson and Bryne. Arthur is also Nigel Terry's biggest role to date, and I think he makes an excellent transformation from squire, to boy king, to battle hardened warrior, peaceful monarch, and cuckolded husband. Helen Mirren plays her most seductive role as Morgana, and Charley Boorman makes a deliciously evil Mordred. As I've watched this film again, I'm more and more impressed by Paul Geoffrey's portrayal of Perceval. He seems to have been introduced as a counterpoint to Arthur, the young boy who dreams of being a knight, but whose cowardice makes him fear that he has lost the grail forever. Of course, it looks as though Bedevere was just one knight too many, but you do think that Perceval would have made an excellent king if he had obeyed his gut instinct.
All in all, a beautiful, luscious Pre-Raphaelite movie, with Wagner's music to produce the adrenaline high. There is a slight suspicion that this film could be quite right wing, timed to coincide with Thatcher's lamentable rise to power. Certainly, fascists have abused the Arthurian myth and Wagner before now, in their own bid for world domination. However, I believe that Boorman and Rospo Pallenberg were just attracted by such an excellent and archetypal story, and had been trying to make the film for years before the doomed British film renaissance so proudly proclaimed by Colin Welland. This film is indeed a "dream to some, a nightmare to others!" I'm on the side of the dreams, the charm of making and the breath of the dragon. Ireland, my ancestral homeland, has never been filmed so darkly and sublimely. Excalibur is a film I reach for again and again, and its haunting images will never leave me.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adult, Intelligent & Provocative .. A Dark Arthurian Fantasy.., 16 May 2008
By 
Adam Jackson "Symphonic Metal Fan" (Stoke On Trent , England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
John Boorman's 1981 film is an exercise in how to treat fantasy in an adult and serious manner.
The fantasy elements are subtle - there are no stop motion monsters to be found here - and yet still pervade the movie with a sense of the magical & arcane. This film in no way attempts a realistic approach to the extent of 2004's King Arthur.
Merlin as portrayed here is dark & ambiguous, constantly aware of the end of the time of magic & the old gods. A very eccentic performance by the
excellent Nicol Williamson. Helen Mirren as the evil & seductive sorceress, Morgana gives an erotically charged performance that is not easily forgotten!
Nigel Terry as Arthur is a bit wooden BUT his tone & manner suits the film's often sombre approach & he brings a sense of dignity to a mythic role.
The movie is over 2 hours long & indeed feels longer (in a good way!).
Very epic, making a mockery of what was not a huge budget. Everything is beautiful, the costumes, the sets, the armour, the weapons - the wonderful photography. Everything glows with otherworldy greens & reds & the sheen of polished steel, tendrils of mist curl around the edge of every frame....
Visually it's a work of art & the score perfectly matches the film, all orchestral & taken from such great works as Carl Orff's O Fortuna & Richard Wagner's Gotterdammerung. Siegfried's Funeral March (Wagner) accompanies both opening & closing credits and is one of the finest classical pieces ever written.
There is plenty of Dark Age combat culminating in the final battle between Good and Evil. The action is stirring & brutal with the screen awash with blood at times. Limbs are hacked off, axes are wielded, sword & spear impales armour & flesh - until 1995's Braveheart, the battle scenes were easily the most violent ever filmed for this genre. When complimented with the intense music, we really are into the realm of the uber-epic.
The battles in 1981 could not be created in the style of The Return Of The King, but what may be lacking in numbers, is compensated for by the violent imagery, the sound of hooves & steel & the sheer cruelty of war.
The final meeting of Arthur & his nemesis, the warlord Mordred (Morgana's dark offspring) is truly horrifying as father & son (yes!)embrace with spear & sword... a very dark & moving denoument..
Speaking of sword, yes, all the elements are present; Lancelot, Camelot, The Lady In The Lake & of course Excalibur!
The Lady In The Lake scenes are the movie's major fantasy element. Neat SFX!
This is the definitive Arthurian fantasy with it's dark & serious tone, it's battle intensity & the erotic atmosphere (There's quite a bit of sex on show here)
Leave the kids to watch Clash Of The Titans - This is very much for grown ups & although different, in terms of tone, it could be likened to the same year's Conan The Barbarian. It has the darkness & the Nietzchian philosophies.

"Knights, Squires - PREPARE FOR BATTLE!!!!!"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lesser known british classic, 10 April 2009
By 
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
Excalibur is the ultimate tale of the Rise and fall of king Arthur, Merlin, The holy Grail Camelot pretty much everything from the novel 'Le Morte D'Arthur (Sir Thomas Malory).

It follows Merlins plans to bring about a united land by giving Uther the power of Excalibur and finding it to be Arthur who is truly the man to lead them.

Starring Nigel Terry as Arthur and Nicol Williamson as Merlin But special apearances from a young Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Gabrial Byrne and Liam Neeson make this a fantasy epic you cannot miss.

Its dark and moody and brings to light that middle age fighting was not pretty unless by a specialist craftsman like Lancelot. Honour requires bravery, and friendship requires loyalty.
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Excalibur [Blu-ray] [1981] [US Import]
Excalibur [Blu-ray] [1981] [US Import] by John Boorman (Blu-ray - 2011)
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