Select one film adaptation of the tale of King Arthur and compose an essay in which you analyze the interpretation of various aspects of Malory’s work. You may choose to analyze characterization and interpretation, theme variances, symbolism interpretations and the like. If you have a film in mind that isn’t on the list below, talk to me about it.

You have to find and watch the film on your own (unless it’s the one I show in class).

The essay must be at least two full double-spaced pages in MLa style.

The Movie List

Knights of the Round Table (1953)
Sword in the Stone (1963)
Camelot (1967)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Excalibur (1981)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The Fisher King (1991)
First Knight (1995)
The Mists of Avalon (2001)
King Arthur (2004)
Shrek the Third (2007)
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
The Green Knight (2021)



Sample Answer

Sample Answer


Title: The Interpretation of Malory’s Work in the Film Adaptation of “Excalibur” (1981)

The legend of King Arthur has captivated audiences for centuries, with its tales of chivalry, honor, and the quest for the Holy Grail. One film adaptation that stands out in its interpretation of various aspects of Malory’s work is “Excalibur” (1981), directed by John Boorman. This essay will delve into the characterization, thematic variances, and symbolic interpretations presented in the film, showcasing how “Excalibur” successfully captures the essence of Malory’s work.

Characterization and Interpretation:
“Excalibur” presents a unique interpretation of the characters from Malory’s work, providing a fresh perspective on their motivations and interactions. The film portrays King Arthur as a flawed yet noble leader, torn between his duties as a king and his personal desires. Nigel Terry’s portrayal of Arthur showcases his vulnerability and internal struggles, humanizing the legendary figure.

Similarly, the character of Merlin is portrayed as a mysterious and enigmatic figure, emphasizing his magical abilities and wisdom. Nicol Williamson’s performance adds depth to Merlin’s character, capturing his complex personality and the pivotal role he plays in guiding Arthur’s destiny.

The film also explores the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere, presenting a passionate yet forbidden love affair that challenges the ideals of chivalry. The performances by Nicholas Clay and Cherie Lunghi bring out the emotional turmoil and conflict faced by these characters, adding a layer of complexity to their roles.

Theme Variances:
While “Excalibur” remains true to the core themes present in Malory’s work, it introduces some variances that enhance the narrative. The film emphasizes the duality of power and corruption, showcasing how the quest for the Holy Grail serves as a test of character for Arthur and his knights. The theme of destiny is also prevalent throughout the film, highlighting Arthur’s journey towards fulfilling his role as the Once and Future King.

Symbolism Interpretations:
Symbolism plays a significant role in “Excalibur,” allowing for deeper interpretations of Malory’s work. The sword Excalibur itself serves as a symbol of power, representing Arthur’s rightful claim to the throne and his divine destiny. The image of the sword emerging from the lake, wielded by an unsuspecting Arthur, symbolizes his divine right to rule.

The Lady of the Lake, portrayed by an ethereal and mystical Helen Mirren, represents the embodiment of magic and guidance. Her presence throughout the film signifies the mystical forces at work behind Arthur’s rise to power.

Furthermore, the iconic Round Table symbolizes equality and unity among Arthur’s knights. This symbol represents their shared purpose and commitment to uphold justice and protect the realm. The fragmentation of the Round Table towards the end of the film represents the disintegration of Arthur’s kingdom and the loss of unity among his knights.

“Excalibur” (1981) successfully captures various aspects of Malory’s work through its characterization, thematic variances, and symbolic interpretations. The film presents a compelling portrayal of King Arthur, his knights, and their quest for honor and righteousness. By delving into the complexities of these characters and incorporating rich symbolism, “Excalibur” remains a standout adaptation that pays homage to Malory’s timeless legend.

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