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Nigel Terry , Helen Mirren , John Boorman    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
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This lush retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is a dark and engrossing tale. Director John Boorman (Deliverance) masterfully handles the tale of the mythical sword Excalibur, and its passing from the wizard Merlin to the future king of England. Arthur pulls the famed sword from a stone and is destined to be crowned king. As the king embarks on a passionate love affair with Guenevere, an illegitimate son, and Merlin's designs on power, threaten Arthur's reign. The film is visually stunning and unflinching in its scenes of combat and black magic. Featuring an impressive supporting cast, including early work from the likes of Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne, Excalibur is an adaptation of the legend both faithful and bold. --Robert Lane

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic, War, Romance... Feb. 21 2007
This is one of those films which can cause you to forget just how good it is with neglect. It stays fairly true to Sir Thomas Malory's work, while trying to be more decisive in some ways. Williamson gives a classic performance as Merlin, which is both edgy and whimsical. All the characters are nicely brought to life by gifted character actors. And some movie fans might be pleased to see early film performances by Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson. Fans of British sitcoms might recognize Clive Swift from "Keeping Up Appearances", who stars in the film as Sir Hector, Arthur's adoptive father. The film lies out a series of memorable moments, as the weaknesses and the strengths of man battle each other for hold over the future...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Excalibur" is Legend itself Jan. 19 2001
A sword fashioned when the world was new. A king to wield the sword. A comrade to betray the king. An unfaithful queen forlorn. A wizard to watch over them all.
"Excalibur" is not a story about a precise location at some specific point in a time. Rather it is Legend itself; a dreamy tale about one brief, shining moment in a fantastic, magical kingdom. Filled with romance and adventure, "Excalibur" captures both the essence of, and the spirit of, the "knights in shining armor" interpretation of the Arthurian legend.
There are so many beautiful sequences in "Excalibur," such as Perceval's quest for the Holy Grail, or the entire end sequence, set in motion when Mordred says to Arthur, "Come, father, let us embrace at last." Director John Boorman skillfully blends realism and authenticity by way of a mythical setting.
No other film has ever captured the romantic notion of the Arthurian legend, both in scenery and drama, quite like "Excalibur." To this day, I still get the chills when I hear "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana over the visuals of the last of the knights of the Round Table riding into battle with Mordred's forces. "Excalibur" is, quite simply, cinematic perfection.
NOTE: Several exceptional and distinguished Shakespearian actors appear in "Excalibur" including Nicol Williamson, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Nigel Terry and Cherie Lunghi.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Legend Arises March 9 2011
By Argus TOP 1000 REVIEWER
"Excalibur" is a terrific attempt at bringing the Arthurian legend to the screen. Director John Boorman was at pains to present what he called a "mythological truth," meaning he stayed faithful (excepting minor changes) to the stories of Thomas Mallory, Chretien de Troyes and Geoffrey of Monmouth. The dialogue, visual imagery and classical music of Richard Wagner and Carl Orff evoke a sense of primeval epic romance, but one with a hard edge of modernity, particularly in the quirky performance of Nicol Williamson as Merlin.

An aura of enchantment is created through the use of luminescent greens and shimmering silver, colours which also heighten the perception of a world in transition from paganism to Christianity. Less satisfactory is Boorman's interpretation of the crucial Grail sequence. The mystical secret of redemption revealed to Percival (Paul Geoffrey) is awkwardly correlated with the corruption of knightly virtues, the land in turmoil and Arthur's (Nigel Terry) depressive sickness. Perhaps it is a symptom of trying to cover too much ground at the expense of structural development. Also unfortunate is the bizarrely outlandish appearance of Mordred (Robert Addie) whose masked helmet looks like something out of a religious mystery play!

Regardless of these imperfections, an impressive array of acting talent including Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Cherie Lunghi, Gabriel Byrne and a young Liam Neeson makes the most of an engaging script. Who could forget Arthur's rallying cry to "ride once more with [his] knights to defend what was and the dream of what could be!"
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By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
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 "G'tterd'mmerung").

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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3.0 out of 5 stars EX-EXCALIBUR May 12 2004
One of the most important aspects of story telling is to decide whether to follow strict adherence to a tale's original inspiration or to depart at points which will enhance its worth upon retelling. You see, telling a story on film is to transfer an experience, an idea, a feeling and imagination. Excalibur is a Masterpiece of detail and attention to costume,location,time and culture, yet John Boorman fails miserably at presenting the story coherently in a visual, emotional, and sensible manner. Many parts of the King Arthur story skip important themes with conclusions that are essential to the point of the cinematography, dialogue and foreshadowing. A viewer should not be burdened with the confusion of sequences that leave out information or that provide cheezy special effects when these parts could simply have been redone or clipped from the movie entirely. There is one part where the character Percival has a dreamlike experience caught in the spell of Morganna and her son, that could simply have been more dramatic as character performance dropping the effects. It was distracting and actually lowered the quality of the movie. Nicol Williamson's performance was exceptional, as well as Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson. As a rated 'R' version, which I had originally expected to be rated for authentically reproduced violence (done well for 1981) should probably be more attributed to the explicit nudity-so nude that in fact to say 'soft-porn' would be conservative. Totally unnecessary are these nude scenes, that it appears to be gratuitous on every level for which these scenes distract viewers from the story. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent move, I liked when it came out VHS, I like it better on DVD.
Published 1 day ago by Joseph Regis Decaire
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad transfert to DVD
Excellent film but awful transfert to DVD, sound and picture quality is poor.
Published 1 month ago by Francois Lefebvre
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
The best of the many sword in the stone movies over the years. A John Boorman classic production from the 1980's.
Published 7 months ago by K. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excalibur (Original 1981, John Boorman)
Great movie; should be in all secondary schools as it gives an excellent overview of Arthurian lore.
David Le Gallant
Published 18 months ago by davidalyre
4.0 out of 5 stars American fantasy film
Excalibur is a 1981 dramatic fantasy film that retells the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table.
Published 19 months ago by T
5.0 out of 5 stars Excalibur
Hello if you want sword play this is the movie for you. store line lots of love betrayal all kinds of stuff. everything for the family. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2012 by Chris Leclair
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the Worst
This movie is one of the worst I have ever seen and I regret spending any money on it. The storyline is weak and the acting is atrocious. Read more
Published on March 4 2012 by Robert J. Kikkert
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Just like Clash of the Titans, this movie is a must have for any Fantasy/Sci-Fi fan.

Sad to say, they are planning on re-making this flick, get is while you can on any... Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2009 by G. J. Smiley
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie but!
I really enjoyed this film as I am a big John Boorman fan. So I bought the HD version thinking the quality in picture and sound would be great. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2007 by P. Laplante
3.0 out of 5 stars weak but at least it sticks to the legends
Of all the horrid films based on Arthurian legends (it seems there's a curse preventing a good Arthurian film!), this is the "best" there is. Read more
Published on July 19 2004 by Delgado
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