...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Un-Reviews-Take Three

Okay, I understand, the popular demand is overwhelming. So, after I finished grocery shopping, dishes and most of the laundry, found a decent Celtic radio station and had enough coffee and some food to keep me alive, here I am...Broadcasting live from Irving TX, here are my random musings about the movie 'King Arthur". For the sake of preserving my sanity, I will asume my Dear Readers have seen this piece so I don't have to go on explaining the whole story as most movie critics do, thus irritating the heck out of me...I mean: I am either thinking about seeing given movie and I do NOT want anyone to tell me what it is about (after all, I want to see it), or I've already sen it, in which case why do I need a movie critic explaining to me what happened in it? The reason I want to read a movie review is to know either if it's worth my 8 bucks artistically, storytelling wise, etc., or after seeing it, I am curious if there were some meanings or little insights in it I missed or whether other people agree with my interpretation etc. But again, this is me, growing up with a different movie culture.

Okay. I've seen the previews. I read the reviews. I said: "Hell, NO! I will NOT watch this crap...they played with my favorite myth of all times, claimed they had a 'historical Arthur' story and totally distorted everything...::gulp:: gave Guinevere a bow and leather brassieres and BLUE PAINT!" So, with all that in me little mind, our little band of brave movie watchers finally sat down in my living room to see this one.

I am STILL ambivalent about it. I mean yes. It seems like the scripters could not decide whether they wanted legend, history, modern thoughts in historical guise, or what...The Sarmatian cavalry that they based Arthur and his knights was moved to Britain in the 2nd c. AD the earliest--by the late 5th century those guys were definitely NOT dreaming about their pagan gods, wide steppes and whatnot. One of the greatest strengths of the Roman Empire was their incredible power of assimilation. A couple hundred years under Roman rule, and look at Gaul or Hispania...It is especially true with the troops. While these Sarmatian dudes most likely retained SOME of their weapons or armor, and they certainly retained their dragon banner (based on archeological evidence)---DRAGON as in ' Pendragon' , okay? NOT a horse, or a unicorn, or whatever that thing was they carried in the movie...they, by the 5th c. AD were Romanized as heck, especially with all th intermarriages once they finished service. I mean, the closest Sarmatian maidens were by that time in what is now Ukraine, and mail-ordering brides was definitely not cost effective for a veteran...
If anyone want to delve deeper into the 'WHAT the hell is this Sarmatian thing?" question, please click on this link. Janos Makkay's article was one of the first ones exploring the Sarmatian connections of the Arthurian legends.

Anyways, I am somewhat in the same league with "King Arthur" as with "Gladiator". I mean I know that
1. there is NO way that Roman villas and estates were still in existence in around AD 500 OVER THE WALL OF HADRIAN!
2, that Pelagius did NOT promote the ideals of freedom and equality among men as this movie proposes...
3. that the AD 500 Picts of the North were NOT blue-tattoed barbarians... if anything, there were BLOODY BRITONS all over Britain, heavily Romanized, with an increasing amount of Angles and some Saxons...
4. that the Pope had NO authority to dispatch of the legions of Britain or to issue ANY kind of orders to them WHATSOEVER, as this movie posits.
5. that the BLOODY ROUND TABLE they put in this movie looked like one straight from a corporate board room at an executive retreat.
6. that the dialogs sucked really, really BAD.

Despite all of this, this movie still, still, added something to the Arthurian myths. The final battle was rather good, and if you have not seen the original of the battle on the ice (after which "King Arthur"'s was rather shamelessly, actually, modeled; that of the movie Alexander Nevsky, the best propagande movie of all times)--you shall enjoy the heck out of that, and go find the original...:-)
The heavy cavalry outfit in which Arthur and his 'knights" (see, this irked me to no end--WHY are they called knights???If we do a 'historical retelling' these guys are cataphracti or somesuch, definitely NOT knights)--was good too. Yes, they would plough through the Saxon infantry JUST like that. Now I admit, not only the six or seven or however few they were...(even though I kept thinking 'Wow...homage to Kurosava ON'; but the idea and feel of those 5th century tanks plowing through a battlefield was pretty accurate.
A Saxon chieftain who acts like one--as The Husband likes to say. Yes. Deal with it. They were NOT. Nice. People.
The underlying feeling of 'we are hopeless but there is this ideal we hold true so we STAY and STAND our guard because we have a DUTY" --well, that always appealed to me, and despite thye NUMEROUS and STRONG failings of this flick, it came through. Just like Maximus' figure in 'Gladiator' made me forgive what the makers of that movie did to 2nd century Rome, Arthur, as played by Clive Owen in this one had the same sense of straight, grim and determined honor I miss SO FREAKIN' MUCH from modern days.
The music half made this movie. Was great. I am a sucker for emotional choruses and swelling Hans Zimmer music.

Notice I did NOT say anything about Keira Knightley's Guinevere--that WAS painful for me...even though, yes, I KNOW, the male readers of these ramblings DEFINITELY have an opinion about her figure and ...ahem...other things. I leave it to them. Yes, that's it.

So: I did not LOVE this one, but as a different myth about the ideas of the Round Table--was it really that bad?


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