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Excalibur [Blu-ray]

4.2 out of 5 stars 761 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table receives its most impressive screen treatment in Excalibur, from visionary director John Boorman (Deliverance, Hope and Glory). All the elements of Sir Thomas Malory’s classic Le Morte Darthur are here: Arthur (Nigel Terry) removing the sword Excalibur from the stone; the Round Table’s noble birth and tragic decline; the heroic attempts to recover the Holy Grail; and the shifting balance of power between wily wizard Merlin (Nicol Williamson) and evil sorceress Morgana (Helen Mirren). With Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson in notable early screen roles.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey
  • Directors: John Boorman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 8, 2011
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (761 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Q66JXA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,665 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Excalibur [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
It's tough to compress the 900-some-odd pages of text that Thomas Malory used to tell his story of Le Morte d'Arthur into 140 minutes of film, but director John Boorman and screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg give it a good shot. While it sometimes leaves out important details or compresses events in the interest of time, it can never be accused of playing fast and loose with the legend. However, the film also requires a bit of work on the part of the viewer to fill in some of the details, and it's obvious Boorman expects his viewer to be at least passing familiar with the traditions of the Arthurian legend (anyone unfamiliar with Arthur's fate after his death, for example, will be baffled by the film's final shot). So brush up just a bit before you sit down to this one.
With its darkened, cloud-streaked skies, lonely stone castles, eerie green lighting, (all caught in beautiful widescreen glory on the DVD), and effective use of the music of Richard Wagner, you won't find a moodier, more beautifully shot film. In fact, there are some downright breathtaking cinematic moments in this film, none more so than when Perceval hurls Excalibur back into the water, and Wagner's music swells just in time for the Lady of the Lake to make a dramatic clean catch. Great stuff.
It also helps that Nicol Williamson turns in a very game performance as Merlin, but it's Nigel Terry who carries the film in an underappreciated but wholly believeable interpretation of King Arthur. Terry leaves the scenery-chewing to Williamson, and anchors the film instead with a steady, understated performance. Look also for stars-in-the-making Liam Neeson as the jealous Gawain, and Patrick Stewart as Guenevere's father, Leodegrance.
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Format: VHS Tape
Within my memory, there've been only a couple films featuring the legend of King Arthur. However, one of them released in 1981, EXCALIBUR, is the standard by which all others, past and future, must be judged. It's positively stunning in its excellence, and a must-see for any devotee of the tale.
In a sense, EXCALIBUR is more a story of Merlin than Arthur since Nicole Williamson's fabulous, unique portrayal of the former overshadows Nigel Terry's role as the latter. However, the film faithfully depicts the Arthurian legend from his conception and birth at Tintagel Castle, to his death at the hands of Mordred. In between are all the other elements of the story one would hope for and expect: Uther Pendragon, the Sword In the Stone, the Battle of Mount Badon, Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Sir Percival, the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Lady of the Lake, and Lady Morgana (a.k.a. Morgan La Fey).
A note of caution for parents of young children. At times, the film is intensely violent, bloody and sexual. (Gee, it sounds like any normal day at the office.) You are warned. And it's not a movie for squeamish adults, either.
The costuming is superb. The brilliant cinematography and film editing, combined with a magnificent soundtrack that includes "Carmina Burana" and "Tristan's Funeral March" at just the right scenes, make EXCALIBUR absolutely awe-inspiring. You'll want to watch it over and over. (I've talked myself into wanting to view it again right now!) The final scene is one you'll wish you could extract from your TV screen and frame, with sound.
Oh, my! What a cinematic achievement!
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Format: DVD
The transfer to DVD is near perfect. The sound is great. It is wonderful to own this piece of film in the super sharp, super clean DVD format, but the real reason to buy this DVD is to listen to John Boorman talking us through the film upto and including the closing credits.
Boorman looks back 20 years on a project that in itself waited some 20 years before Orion came up with the backing. In the process it saw Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson and others debuting to go on to better things. Not so with Nigel Terry, whose performance was greatly under-rated.
Boorman is modest, pragmatic and realistic. If the water was too cold for the actors, he would use his daughter or son. Production waited for live fish to be put into a submerged ring of stones from which Merlin would pick up one by hand, only for them to be tipped OUTSIDE the ring to swim away. Effectively, filming was done in his back garden and that of a neighbour. Local Irish stuntmen were used who would then continue fighting in the battle scenes, after "cut" was called, to settle old scores. Wilkinson Sword provided Excalibur. Green filtered lights rendered greener the countryside already made green by the incessant rain requiring many hours and days waiting for the right conditions.
As the young Arthur is taken away from his mother he tugs her hair dramatically across the film screen. Unscripted it came free. The bird pecking out the eye of a strung-up knight took many day's filming.
Very tight scheduling, ensured seasons exactly consonant with the three parts of the film - the Coming of Arthur and Camelot, The Wasteland and the Passing of Arthur.
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PG Version?
Some of us would like to use this film as an introduction to Arthurian lore for our children, and would prefer to not wait until they're old enough witness the graphic rape of Ygraine. THAT's why.
Jan 19, 2013 by Your Friendly Discordian |  See all 4 posts
With the Blu-Ray contain the uncut version?
The R-rated version is 140 minutes, the PG cut is 119 minutes. This is the 140 minute version.
Mar 13, 2011 by Kevin Crawford |  See all 3 posts
Any word on a release date of the Blu-ray?
Let's hope they remaster the video and the audio instead of using the HD master from the HD-DVD (which was notably inferior, especially by today's standards); this film deserves it. Then again, since they botched even high profile titles like Gladiator and The Last of the Mohicans the chances of... Read More
Nov 30, 2010 by Kwisatz Haderack |  See all 3 posts
Does the Blu-Ray contain director's commentary? Be the first to reply
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