King Arthur Movie Connections

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.)

This weekend, the 1,026th incarnation of King Arthur on film hits theaters. This time, the old sword-wielder of myth comes courtesy of the Guy behind Snatch and Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie promises a visually lush trip into 6th century England where Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) will reach out to grab his destiny unless Vortigern (Jude Law) keeps him evilly from it.

This is a hardscrabble Arthur. He’s denied his birthright as exalted ruler, and has to grow up on the rough streets of Londinium before pulling the famous sword from the almost-as-famous stone that brings him power and responsibility (the great version of one usually conjures the other). King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, like many modern riffs on ancient tales and Ritchie’s own Holmes series, will attempt to inject rock and roll into the Middle Ages.

movie mixtape sword in the stone

The Sword in the Stone

Has there been a better version of the Arthur myth? Doubtful. None of the other ones involve a virus fighting a dragon witch. The 1963 Disney animation focuses almost entirely on Arthur (aka Wart) as the poor boy king who has to carry comically large piles of dishes and act as squire for a bullying homunculus with a bad bowl cut. He meets the great and befuddled Merlin on accident and starts down the road toward leadership and enlightenment thanks to magic, catchy songs, and an emphasis on the importance of education. Merlin and Wart’s transformation into animals, and Merlin’s battle with the vicious Mad Madam Mim are standouts in animation history (and they’re ridiculously fun to boot).

movie mixtape knightriders

Knightriders

If you take only one thing away from this list, make it this bonkers George Romero-crafted, Ed Harris-starring drama focused on traveling motorcycle jousters. Naturally, King William (Harris) utilizes the philosophy of the Round Table to lead his troupe of performers, but warring factions break out, led by Tom Savini’s Morgan, causing friction within this strange, niche community. Come for the b-movie weirdness and Renaissance Faire motorbike stunts; stay for the surprisingly effective emotional journey and interpersonal struggles. Don’t be alarmed when zombies never show up.

Blazing Dragons

For those of you waiting for Monty Python and the Holy Grail to appear on the list, you get Blazing Dragons instead. The brainchild of Python founder Terry Jones, this pun-loving animated show refashioned King Arthur’s court with, you know, dragons. The gag is that their relatively peaceful realm is beset by evil humans (who can’t even breathe fire). It’s fun and zany, and, since it’s Canadian and French, it’s slightly more taboo than cartoons aimed at American kids. The connections to Arthur are clear (like Sir Galahot and Sir Loungealot), and it’s bolstered by Jones’ considerable love for history and myth.

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