Excalibur [Blu-Ray] John Boorman

Excalibur [Blu-Ray] John Boorman
John Boorman's a bit of an odd duck. After establishing himself in Hollywood directing Lee Marvin in the exceptional Point Blank (1967) and Hell in the Pacific (1968), and gaining international acclaim for his harrowing adaptation of James Dickey's Deliverance (1972), Boorman would return to his native UK and essentially squander all the goodwill he'd been afforded. First came wackadoo dystopic picture Zardoz (1973), starring Sean Connery in a bandolier, and then critical and commercial flop Exorcist II: The Heretic in 1977. Even if these last two films were bungled (read: terrible), they were marked by an undeniable ambition the typified the full-bore approach Boorman took to filmmaking. This ambition would reach its crest with Excalibur, his 1981 Arthurian epic. Though sometimes agonizingly long (at 140 minutes), Excalibur is the kind of grandly aspiring film you can't turn away from. Starring Nigel Terry as Arthur, the meek squire who dislodged his father's word from a stone and became king of England, in accordance with a wizard's decree, Excalibur's bloat is eased by the almost perverse conviction of Boorman's vision. There's lots of weird, laughable stuff, like the scene where a knight has sex in full armour, or the foot chases that render abundantly clear exactly how heavy a suit of armour is. But Boorman tackles it all ― even Merlin's most ridiculous dialogue, like describing himself as "A dream to some. A nightmare to others!" ― with a solemnity that's more hilarious than the sum of the film's goofy parts. This lucidity of intent is reflected in his audio commentary, where he speaks to the production details of the film with dull seriousness, questioning nothing of its patent silliness. In a way, Boorman's earnestness is justified. Excalibur may be a bit messy in execution, but it's crystal-clear in conception, and beautifully rendered. Boorman aimed to make a singularly empowering (in the same way the Wagner and Manowar tunes are empowering) fantasy-historical-realist epic for the ages. To those who buy into his vision, Excalibur is a marvel. To others, the film may come off a bit more, well, nightmarish. (eOne)