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Charlie Hunnam stars in KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, directed by Guy Ritchie – in theaters March 24, 2017
Acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie brings his dynamic style to the epic fantasy action adventure “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Starring Charlie Hunnam in the title role, the film is an iconoclastic take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur’s journey from the streets to the throne.
When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.
Starring with Hunnam (FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”) and Oscar nominee Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”) are Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”) as Mage; Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond,” “In America”) as Bedivere; Aidan Gillen (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) as Goosefat Bill; and Eric Bana (“Star Trek”) as Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon.
Guy Ritchie (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films) directed the film from a screenplay is by Joby Harold (“Awake”) and Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram, story by David Dobkin (“The Judge”) and Joby Harold. The film is produced by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind,” “I Am Legend”), Joby Harold, Tory Tunnell (“Awake,” “Holy Rollers”), and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Sherlock Holmes” producers Steve Clark-Hall, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram. David Dobkin and Bruce Berman are executive producers.
Ritchie’s behind-the-scenes creative team included two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography John Mathieson (“Gladiator,” “The Phantom of the Opera”), Oscar-nominated production designer Gemma Jackson (“Finding Neverland”), editor James Herbert (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Edge of Tomorrow”), costume designer Annie Symons (Masterpiece Theater’s “Great Expectations”), makeup and hair designer Christine Blundell (“Mr. Turner,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films), and Oscar-nominated VFX Supervisor Nick Davis (“The Dark Knight”). The music is by Daniel Pemberton (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”).
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Weed Road/Safehouse Pictures Production, a Ritchie/Wigram Production, a Guy Ritchie film, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Slated for release on March 24, 2017, the film will be distributed in North America by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
I am super excited to see Charlie as King Arthur. This version may not be historic in terms of Arthurian history, but it is historic for a theater release. I don’t think any Arthurian scholars, myself included, are ever happy with someone outside our circle telling their rendering of the Arthurian legends and/or history, but we should at least try to enjoy it. Next March I will try to forget what I know, I’ll walk into the theater as an enthusiast instead of an Arthurian scholar and enjoy watching this version of King Arthur.
“Wretch, unhappy me! Why did I come here from my land? The earth should truly swallow me up, since the very best of knights—the boldest and the bravest, the most loyal, the most courteous that was ever count or king—has completely abandoned all chivalry because of me. Now have I truly shamed him; I should not have wished it for anything!” Enide, Erec and Enide, p. 68.
Quotes from Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur
*Cited by page and line(s)
“But I fele by thy wordis that thou haste agreed to the deth of my persone: and therefore thou art a traytoure – but I wyte the lesse, for my sistir Morgan le Fay by hir false crauftis made the to agré to hir fals lustis.” (90.30-33)
One of Arthur’s own knights, Accalon, betrays him, hoping to become king by marrying the current king’s sister, Morgan le Fay, and killing Arthur. Yet Arthur… forgives him? Later, Arthur’s kingdom will be brought down by a similar betrayal by his own son. Maybe if Arthur should’ve made an example of Accalon instead of being so soft on him.
Whatever the facts may have been, the basic Joseph legend grew around something that was real and solid, an ancient church constructed of wattles – interlaced twigs or rods – with reinforcements of timber and lead. Bound with clay, wattle-work can be a stalwart material. It was used by early settlers in Wisconsin, and the remains of a wattle structure can be seen at New Harmony, Indiana, among the buildings in a community founded by the philanthropist Robert Gwen.
In the centuries after Britain broke from the Roman Empire, a group of Celtic British monks lived beside Glastonbury’s small wattle church. It may already have been so old that no one knew who the builder was. Chroniclers decided eventually that it was Joseph of Arimathea, and that idea was the nucleus of the tale of his coming to Glastonbury. There were other stories connecting him with Britain, but no one knows which came first, or why such an unlikely person was ever thought of. The belief may reflect a lost tradition. At any rate, the site of the “Old Church” came to be known as “the holiest earth of England,” where the Christian Faith was first planted. Today, the Lady Chapel among the ruins marks the place.
Hard evidence is lacking. Archaeologists have found traces of Christian settlement at least as early as the sixth century, on the Abbey site and on the upper part of the Tor. Gildas, a British author, seems to mention the Old Church about the year 530. Hermits may have lived hereabouts farther back, and there was some kind of Roman presence. But the more distant past is lost in obscurity. Those who wish to believe in Joseph are free to do so. Certainly, after the Gospel incident, history says nothing about his later life anywhere else.
When Christian Glastonbury began, most of the people of what is now England were British Celts, ancestors of the Welsh. But the pagan Anglo-Saxons, ancestors of the English, moved in from across the North Sea and gradually overran the country. At first they wiped out whatever Christian institutions they found. However, their advance slowed down. The West Saxon kingdom of Wessex did not expand far enough to absorb Glastonbury until the middle of the seventh century. By then its kings were Christians, themselves, and they took over the British community peaceably. At Glastonbury, as nowhere else in England, we have a major instance of Christian continuity right through from Celtic times, As one historian has put it, the Saxon kings made the place a temple of reconciliation between previously hostile peoples.
Its monastery grew into an abbey of the Benedictine Order. The greatest abbot, St. Dunstan, in the tenth century, started the drainage of the still-waterlogged country round about, embanking the river to prevent flooding. He launched the restoration of learning and religion in England after the Norse destruction of monasteries and monastic schools. His successors continued the reclamation of most of the territory down to the Bristol Channel, and protected it with sea-walls, so that it is now farming land.
Medieval Glastonbury played a part in the making of the legends of Arthur. Joseph of Arimathea, or a companion of his, was said to have brought the Holy Grail, the wonder-working vessel of the Last Supper, to Britain., From a first Avalonian resting-place, it had been removed to a mysterious castle, and, four hundred years later, many of Arthur’s knights rode out in quest of it. The King himself had at least one personal connection with Glastonbury: he had besieged it to rescue Guinevere from an abductor, and visited the Old Church when the matter was settled.