Although the recent rush of King Arthur films attempt to show the darker side of the Arthurian legends, some of the older movies emphasized the lighter and happier side of the legend, usually involving music, spectacle, and the joy of classic cinema. The following King Arthur films, both animated and live-action, show the spirit and promise of the original Arthurian legends.
This animated feature film, produced by the masterminds at Disney, follows the adventures of the young Arthur. He meets Merlin and engages in a series of adventures designed to teach him how to be an effective and kind-hearted king -- the type England definitely needs.
Although the film has a mostly light heart, it also poses some deep philosophical questions, and there are some genuinely moving scenes. These, combined with the joy of watching the villainous Madam Mim and Merlin duke it out in a wizard's duel, make "Sword in the Stone" an Arthurian film that is a pleasure for everyone to watch.
Following along with the musical theme, this film, which stars two of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time (Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave), also follows the general trajectory of the traditional Arthurian myth. Although it does have the traditional sad ending that must always come with a telling of the story of King Arthur and his knights, it also manages to convey the joy and magic that is also part of the legend. This, combined with the tremendous acting talent on display throughout, makes this an Arthurian film eminently worth watching.
For an Arthurian movie that is slightly offbeat and pays absolutely no respect to the original legend, then be sure to watch this film, starring those inimitable stars of the Monty Python acting troupe. "Holy Grail" features some of the most emblematic and iconic moments in cinema, including a rabbit that is decidedly more dangerous than you would ever think as well as a group of Frenchmen who make Arthur's life a living hell. All in all, the witty, razor-sharp humor makes it one of the most entertaining King Arthur movies ever made.
Whether you want a comedy or a musical, an animated film or a live action one, you are sure to find a King Arthur film that meets your needs, thus showing just how powerful and resonant these myths continue to be in our own era.
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- King Arthur