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Excalibur (1981)

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Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the Round Table of Camelot, even as dark forces conspire to tear it apart.

Director:

John Boorman

Writers:

Thomas Malory (book), Rospo Pallenberg (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
2,092 ( 592)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nigel Terry ... King Arthur
Helen Mirren ... Morgana
Nicholas Clay ... Lancelot
Cherie Lunghi ... Guenevere
Paul Geoffrey ... Perceval
Nicol Williamson ... Merlin
Robert Addie ... Mordred
Gabriel Byrne ... Uther Pendragon
Keith Buckley ... Uryens
Katrine Boorman ... Igrayne
Liam Neeson ... Gawain
Corin Redgrave ... Cornwall
Niall O'Brien Niall O'Brien ... Kay
Patrick Stewart ... Leondegrance
Clive Swift ... Ector
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Storyline

The myth of King Arthur brought once again to the screen. Uthur Pendragon is given the mystical sword Excalibur by the wizard Merlin. At his death Uthur buries the sword into a stone, and the next man that can pull it out will be King of England. Years later Arthur, Uthur's bastard son draws Excalibur and becomes king. Guided by Merlin, Arthur marries Guenivere and gathers the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur's evil half-sister Morgana sires a son with him, who may prove his downfall. Written by Greg Bole <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

No mortal could possess it! No kingdom could command it! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Knights See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,519,706, 12 April 1981

Gross USA:

$34,967,437

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$34,971,136
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Boorman had wanted to call this "Merlin", but CBS had a show called Mr. Merlin (1981), so they had exclusive usage of the "Merlin" name. It began shooting as "Knights", but Ridley Scott had registered "Knight" for a medieval epic, he was planning with Walter Hill, as his follow-up to Alien (1979). They were already shooting before they decided on "Excalibur". See more »

Goofs

When Merlin creates a fog, the prolonged mist from Morgana's mouth is clearly coming from a pipe/tube next to her cheek. Her mouth is closed at times and the thick mist still continues. See more »

Quotes

Merlin: Now look, I once stood exposed to the Dragon's Breath so that a man could lie one night with a woman. It took me nine moons to recover. And all for this lunacy called, "love", this mad distemper that strikes down both beggar and king. Never again. Never.
See more »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 20 minutes from this film for its 1985 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bride and Groom (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude to Parsifal
by Richard Wagner
Specially recorded by London Philharmonic Orchestra (as The London Philharmonic Orchestra)
Conducted by Norman Del Mar
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

A Great Film
17 November 2003 | by baronalbany38See all my reviews

I am an Arthurian buff and a film fan (aspiring to be a novelist and a screenwriter). EXCALIBUR is a great, great film that holds up very well after more than 20 years. It is an expert distillation of the essential Arthurian legend (this from someone who has read and re-read Malory's original work, Le Morte D'Arthur, on which the movie was based, as well as Tennyson, White, Steinbeck, and many of the other modern fictional treatments, as well as a lot of the secondary literature on the history and meaning of the Arthur myth). The film is wonderful on many, many levels, from Boorman's masterful direction and writing (along with Pallenberg, his screenwriter), to the cinematography, the armor and costumes, the sets and production design, and the acting (with a great cast too numerous to mention). The film has violence, sex, myth, drama, intrigue, heroics, pathos, and aspirations to art, all in the best senses of those terms. The film probably works best if you already have some sort of sense of the Arthur legends, but I would recommend it to anyone. Also, listen to Boorman's director's commentary on the DVD. Perhaps the best and most lucid DVD commentary that I have heard on video; interesting and sharp comments throughout the entire film, and well worth replaying if you aspire to filmmaking in any way, or just want to hear a smart filmmaker talk about his work. I have tried to write Arthurian stories and an Arthurian script, but all have so far paled in comparison to Boorman and Pallenberg's work. Long live Boorman and long live EXCALIBUR!


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