King Arthur, the stuff of future memory
(Arthurian legends in popular movies)

Main page King Arthur's longevity Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot en Prose, Thomas Malory Pre-Raphaelite images of the Middle Ages Swashbucklers at the Round Table First Knight - review & summary Excalibur - summary & analysis 100+ Arthurian links
These pages contain a simplified and less formal résumé of a Masters Research Paper by Iman Keuchenius called: "King Arthur, the stuff of future memory; An analysis of authenticity in popular Arthurian movies".

In this case authenticity can only be a relative concept. There is not much historical truth to rely on and we have little knowledge of the development of the Arthurian legend in the early stages. Criticising Arthurian films as portraits of a certain era in history seems rather useless, because over the centuries the legend has proven it is a timeless story, applicable and adaptable to every age. Over time it has been used and enjoyed by many people, pagans as well as christians, conservatives as well as hippies, and it has been subject to both low and hight art. Therefore it is hardly surprising that the legend does not contain one single message, it is incredibly rich and versatile.

There are on the other hand some elements in the Arturian tradition that can not be pushed aside if one wants to (re)tell the main story (and not use the Arthurian court merely as background for a new or other hero). The adultery between Lancelot and Guinevere for instance can hardly be denied. I have tried to analyse the way popular (the French art movies by Rohmer and Bresson are not part of my thesis) movies deal with the Arthurian tradition. To do so, I first had to give an overview of the highlights over the centuries, (see the menu on the left under Introduction, Legends and Pre-Raphaelites), concentrating on those versions that were important for the main movies of my thesis: First Knight and Excalibur. Because these movies were produced in Hollywood, I also had to take the swashbuckler genre into account (see the menu on the left under Swashbucklers.


To Camelot
Arthur and his knights riding back to Camelot (from Lancelot du Lac, French, early fourteenth century)


Last update: 15-08-2000

© Iman Keuchenius 1998