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My Favorite Movie
on 31 July 2013
The BluRay is great. A little blurry at the very beginning, which gave me a moment of worry, but it clears up and is nice and crisp throughout the rest of the movie.
Every year on or about my birthday I watch Knightriders. The gag is this: they're a wandering troupe of performers who put on jousts ... atop motorcycle. Except that what's an obvious put-on to the outside world, is (to varying degrees) real to the people living the life ... late in the movie, watching the knights fight, a girl says: "They're crazy." And a scummy agent, watching them fight, grins and says, "Yeah ... but that's what makes them sellable."
There's a brilliant bit midway through where King William (played by the best actor of his generation, Ed Harris), sitting by the fire at the side of the road along with his lawyer, with Merlin, and a roustabout named Bagman, talks about his Code: "It's tough to live by the Code. I mean it's real hard to live for something you believe in. People try it and they get tired of it, like they get tired of their diets, or exercise, or their marriage or their kids or their job or themselves, or they get tired of their God ... you can keep the money you make off this sick world, lawyer, I don't want any part of it. Anybody wants to live more for themselves doesn't belong with us. Let 'em go out and buy some pimpy psychiatrist paperback says it's OK, don't ask me to say it's OK, it's not OK!"
And Bagman responds. He's just spent the night in jail having his ass whipped by a Bad Cop ... he tells a story about waking up in a jail in Alabama after having his ass kicked years back, and just wanting to die, trying to cut his wrists with a bed spring ... but now: "Well, last night, I got my ass kicked, and I came up laughing. Because now I'm in Camelot. See, the way I see it is this: you got two separate fights: the one for truth and justice and the American way of life and all that, it's gotta take a back seat to the one for staying alive, you gotta stay alive, man, you can have the most beautiful ideals in the whole world, but if you die, your ideals are gonna die with you. The important thing is we gotta stay together, we gotta keep this troup together, and if keeping this troup together means we gotta take some of this promoter's money, I say we take it and get some sleep."
And everyone does to go sleep, and King Billy stares into the fire ... and then wakes up Bagman and rants at him: "Listen, I been thinking about what you said, all that stuff you said earlier, I been thinking about it, I been thinking about it real hard ... there's not two different fights. There can't be two different fights. You've got to fight for your ideals and if you die, your ideals don't die. The Code that we're living by is the truth, the truth is our Code. I can't let people walk on that idea, I can't."
... and King Billy borrows his lawyer's motorcycle and rides off to go do battle with the Dragon.
Knightriders isn't a great movie. In places it isn't even a good movie. It's too long and embarrassingly sincere when Ed Harris and Tom Savini (Mordred, essentially) aren't on screen. But Savini is good and Harris gives one of the great performances in any movie ever -- something comparable to Peter O'Toole's Lawrence. Imperfect it may be, but it's my favorite movie.