King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is hitting theaters and it’s got us itching for some more medieval goodness. There is no shortage of films about the mystical land of Camelot but we decided to look for some of the best. Here are five Arthurian movies for all of you who need a little magic in your life.
The Sword in the Stone
Disney’s animated take on a young Arthur – nicknamed Wart by his adoptive father and brother – is often overlooked. It’s a goofy but enjoyable little flick that is basically a series of vignettes between Merlin and the young Wart. There are a bunch of wonderful sequences involving Wart and Merlin living life as different animals, as well as a great wizard duel between Merlin and Mad Madam Mim. It’s the best way to introduce very young children to the Arthurian legend.
John Boorman’s take on the knights of Camelot is an extravagant and unabashedly weird picture. There are delightful turns from Helen Mirren and Nicol Williamson as Morgana and Merlin, and you can tell that Boorman fell in love with the truly fantastical elements of the story. Excalibur feels almost like a dream at times. In that way, it’s probably the film that has best captured the mythical tone of the story.
This version of the tale strips away all of the mysticism and myth of the story and attempts to place the story of Arthur and his knights in a historical context. It’s an interesting idea that is mostly bolstered by the direction of Antoine Fuqua and the strong cast. If you want to experience this familiar tale in a brand new way, this is the movie for you.
Framing the story of King Arthur from the viewpoint of Merlin isn’t radically new, but Merlin is probably the greatest take on such an approach. With an all-star cast that includes Sam Neill as the titular wizard, Merlin is a TV movie that is so good that it feels like it could have been in theaters if it had a slightly higher budget. Regardless, it’s one of the best appropriations of the Arthurian legend and turns one of the supporting characters into a hero in his own right.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
No way we were forgetting this one. British comedy troupe Monty Python decided to send up King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table (we dance whenever we’re able!) and it’s one of the greatest comedies of all time. You probably know someone who can quote this whole movie. That’s because it really is that good. IF you only have time for one movie on this list, make it this one. By the time you’re finished, there will be much rejoicing (yaaay).