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Mists of Avalon (Widescreen)

Anjelica Huston , Julianna Margulies , Uli Edel    Unrated   DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 34.98
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Mists of Avalon (DVD)


This adaptation of Marion Zimmer Bradley's sprawling and perennially popular book, whose retelling of the Arthurian legends focused on the role of powerful females, compresses a wealth of mysticism, family intrigue, and bloody swordplay into three hours. While the plot can meander slowly and can sometimes seem, well, mystifying, the work of three notable actresses holds the production together, and the numerous complications do eventually get resolved. As Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, Anjelica Huston endeavors to perpetuate the old religion as pagan Britain comes into contact with Christianity. The scheming Morgause, played to evil perfection by Joan Allen, conspires to her own ends. And Avalon priestess Morgaine, played by Julianna Margulies, travels the heroine's journey, overcoming tragedies, injustice, and all manner of obstacles in her duty to both "the goddess" and her younger brother, King Arthur. Although the action lags at times, the production is quite lavish for a made-for-television feature and the film is ultimately entertaining. --Robert J. McNamara

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This Movie Shouldn't Be Named "Mists of Avalon" Oct. 26 2004
By Miko
If you've read the book, I cannot imagine you enjoying this movie. It changed the characters and the characterization in the book is what made it so enthralling. Physically, the movie takes the two-dimensional words from the book and makes them three-dimensional by putting them on-screen; metaphorically, the book is three-dimensional while the screen version of the story lacks such depth that I would feel generous in calling it even two-dimensional. I reiterate: if you've read the book, I cannot imagine you enjoying this movie; if you have not read the book, buy it and enjoy the Mists of Avalon not the movie that stole its name.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting July 14 2004
I haven't read the book. I watched this movie without any expectations whatsoever, or any knowledge of the plot. Honestly, I didn't even know it was about the legend of King Arthur.
The movie was far better than any of the other Arthur films I have watched. It surpasses Merlin in terms of believability, Camelot in terms of maturity, and almost equals Excalibur. Julienna Marguiles portrays a very convincing Morgaine. The whole story is told from her point of view, and indeed it was a gorgeous retelling. For once, we are given the refreshing view that Morganne was humane, and good. We are given new explanations for the incest between Arthur and Morganne, as well as the blackness of Mordred's character, which is now blamed on Morganne's aunt, Morgause.
What intrigued me about the movie was the portrayal of the Pagan and Christian society, and most interestingly, about how the Pagan goddess still lives on as the Virgin Mary (I still find that interesting, although I don't quite agree with it). Certain things, like having Excalibur return to the goddess and fading off into the silhoette of the Christian cross puzzles me a little to what the symbolic meaning behind it implies. This intermingling of both religions - the link established wasn't as clear as it should have been.
Beautiful performances from Anjelica Huston (The Lady of the Lake), and Joan Allen (Morgause). I didn't really think that Samantha Mathis was suitable to play Guinevere (she didn't really look the part, nor act the part)... and Michael Vartan surprisingly pulled off the part of Lancelot well (Franco Nero is by far one of the most atrocious Lancelots ever). Hans Matheson (Mordred), a relatively new actor, does a better job here than what he did in Les Miserables.
A good cast, and a good movie. I found it a little controversial, and at times slightly disturbing, but it keeps the mystery and intrigue surrounding Avalon as palpable as ever.
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2.0 out of 5 stars worth a watch if you liked the book... March 4 2004
...but the movie isn't quite as good. The most moving scene comes right before the final battle between King Arthur's men and the Saxon invaders. The battle scene itself is a bit too gory to watch, but immediately before it, Arthur and Lancelet stand at the head of their troops and, without saying a word to each other, manage to express their hard-won realization of the pointlessness of war. This movie skims away the depth of most of the characters, eliminating Lancelet's homosexuality, Gwenhwyfar's hatred for Morgaine, and Morgaine's attempt to get Arthur killed, among other interesting plot twists. Granted, it's difficult to do justice to a 1000-page book in a TV-miniseries, but why attempt a project half-heartedly? The makers of this movie would have done much better to make a longer movie or to not have attempted to cover the entirety of the book in three hours -- doing so simply made this a plot-based store with little character development despite very good acting jobs from the cast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful! Jan. 24 2004
This is a beautiful retelling of the Arthurian legend, with a welcome twist of change which makes Morgan le Fay (Morgaine) the heroine instead of the villainess we're accustomed to seeing in "Excalibur." The movie begins with three sisters: Viviane (the Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon), Igraine (mother of Morgaine and Arthur) and Morgause. Upon learning of her destiny with the future High King, Uther Pendragon, Igraine is reluctant to accept but very quickly falls in love with Uther, and he with her. Their secret tryst on the night of her husband Gorlois's death at war, results in the conception of Arthur. When Morgaine and Arthur are both old enough, they are taken from Uther and Igraine and to their separate futures. Morgaine is groomed by Viviane to become the next high priestess of Avalon, a magical land which is fading away as people stop believing in it and in the Goddess. One of the other priestesses is Raven, a kind soul who has taken a vow of silence. Morgaine grows into a beautiful woman in the form of Julianna Marguilies, and is chosen to take part in the Great Marriage at Beltane. She doesn't realize until after she realizes she is pregnant with the Beltane child and after her reunion with Arthur that he was the man she slept with in the Great Marriage. Yuk! Anyway, lots of twists and turns in the saga of Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, the coming of age of Mordred by his evil aunt Morgause, and the slow fading of Avalon of the years passing by and the deaths of Merlin and Viviane. We all know how it ends. I screamed right along with Raven when Viviane died.
While this is a great film which I would gladly recommend to anyone with an interest in the legend of Avalon, there are a few roles which I believe was miscast.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite movie of all time!
This is a compelling movie of Sir Arthur - but told from the eyes of the women in his life. Never before have you seen a movie like this! I guarantee you will love it!
Published 6 months ago by Pat Chopik
1.0 out of 5 stars So boring I couldn't watch the whole thing
the narration was painfully monotone, perhaps in attempts to portray objectivity. The acting was dispassionate and the directing was clumsy
Published 20 months ago by janet letkeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Merlin and Arthur another viewpoint
We have heard historian's point of view. This is from the Ladies side.
Interesting turn on how things happened. Great acting in wonderful places. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2009 by Marianna Eros
4.0 out of 5 stars Shipping
Shipping time for this product was great. Got it a few days after I ordered it. Only thing was that it was not packaged very well and the part inside the box that holds the movie... Read more
Published on July 6 2009 by Missy C.
4.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind
I have loved the books of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her take on King Arthur story. I am not a buyer of DVD, cause I don't really like to watch movie over and over again, but this... Read more
Published on July 1 2009 by FreeSpirit
2.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously disappointing
I was glad to hear that someone was making a miniseries of this, and Juliana Margulies seemed like an excellent choice for Morgaine. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by UCLAgirl
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical and Mystical Experience
Yes, I have read the book, and while there are some differences between the film and the book, the most important parts of the story are in the movie. Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by JR Corry
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good Summary/Introduction to An Excellent Book
I think the titles says it all. At about four hours or so this movie adaptation really is just grazing the top of what is covered in the book. Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by djhexane
1.0 out of 5 stars Well...
On it's own, I think it would be a decent movie. However, for people like myself who have read and adored the book, it was a horrible disappointment. Read more
Published on May 20 2004 by "egarcia80"
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Having loved the book I was excited to see this. I was disappointed a little, but I still enjoyed the film. Read more
Published on May 9 2004 by April M. Bear
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