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Excalibur

John Boorman's grand and engrossing Excalibur puts all other sword and sorcery fantasies to shame. Telling the familiar story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table — adapted from Thomas Malory's definitive Le Morte d'Arthur — Boorman's film is pure legend, parts elegy, camp, adventure, and soap opera, infused with poetry and stunningly visualized. Every moment is full of pomp teetering on the edge of camp, but with not one whiff of deflating self-consciousness. This is the story of kings and courage, after all, in a time when subtlety didn't carry as well growls and warfare. Although Excalibur delivers ample titillation, it's also a fond and moving rumination of a time when men aspired to chivalry, chased and achieved ideals, and, yet, through all their power and heroism, respected the value of humility. The cast includes Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, and Liam Neeson (in the supporting roles), with Nicol Williamson as Merlin, Nigel Terry as Arthur, Nicholas Clay as Lancelot and Cherie Lunghi as Guenevere. Cinematographer Alex Thomson captures battle scenes with the grim lyricism of Kurosawa. Warner presents Excalibur in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital. Includes commentary by director John Boorman, trailer, textual supplements, snap case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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