Even though the Arthur legend is hundreds of years old, our culture today is still fascinated with the idea of the Round Table and the love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere. There are movies and books galore to read about the different takes on the legend of Arthur. However, it makes one wonder if our culture really understands the Arthurian legend. Especially in the movies the central idea of a literary work can be lost. Compared to Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur have movies lost sight of what the Arthurian legend tries to teach?
Le Morte d’Arthur has several different themes working within in for Hollywood to choose from. An easy one for moviemakers is the glorification of the hero. In Malory’s work it appears that he is glorifying Arthur but really his work is being very critical. Arthur is an interesting man, and Malory constructs his character to stand out. But he also gives Arthur flaws that inevitably bring about his demise.
Malory also makes Merlin an intriguing character. However, Merlin is very ominous. He tries to steer Arthur in the right direction but he is not entirely a positive character. His magic and his ability to see the future make Merlin someone to be wary of. Merlin may not be represented in the movies so mysteriously.
Another large part of the Arthurian legend is the theme of betrayal. Many movies do not cover how Arthur was conceived but in Le Morte d’Arthur, Malory discloses Arthur was conceived through betrayal. The betrayal theme continues when Lancelot and Guenevere start their romance. It is Lancelot and Guenvere’s betrayal that brings the downfall of the Round Table and Camelot.
The Round Table and the idea of unity are two more major themes. In much o...
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...’s work. For courtly love to survive, there has to be a third party to make things complicated. Just as in Tristan and Isuelt, the fun is supposed to be over when it is okay to be together. But First Knight goes in a completely different direction. Not to mention the glorification of Lancelot, played by Richard Gere. The movie does not glorify Arthur in the same way. However, it is not surprising that the movie would favor the younger of the two men.
As illustrated by the three movies, Hollywood bends the Arthurian legend anyway it can to make money off of it. There still are many movies out there that deal with the legend. These three are just some of the most popular and, one would think, the best movies dealing with the legend. Each movies takes a particular theme and tries to deal with it, either completely going against what Malory wrote or complementing it.
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