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Lancelot of the Lake

Luc Simon , Laura Duke Condominas , Robert Bresson  |  NR |  DVD
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Luc Simon, Laura Duke Condominas, Humbert Balsan, Vladimir Antolek-Oresek, Patrick Bernhard
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Writers: Robert Bresson
  • Producers: Alfredo Bini, François Rochas, Jean Yanne, Jean-Pierre Rassam
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y4LEG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,752 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lancelot of the Lake" on IMDb

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, though not for everyone July 28, 2005
By Dorie
This is a sombre version of the Arthurian legend, and in my view very much in tone with Thomas Malory's 15th century version. The latter is dark and foreboding, and so is this film. The deeds of arms of the knights are represented in terms that undermine the ideals of chivalry. There is only death, blood and severed body parts everywhere. The heap of bodies on which the last shot of the film focuses is the climax of this violence.

At the centre of this film stands the love between Guinevere and Lancelot, sublimely represented in the film: Guinevere waits for Lancelot's return in silence, and suffers for her love of him. Lancelot has come to the point where he tries to resist this love, for the sake of chivalry, but it is interesting to see the way in which he fails in his attempt to relinquish Guinevere.

I dare say this film is essential for anyone seriously interested in the Arthurian legend, and for anyone who has a clear understanding that the latter is not romance Hollywood style, but much darker. This is definitely not a film for everyone. There is a lot of blood and violence in the film, its atmosphere is dark, the dialogue is designedly monotonous, to match the sombre mood of the film, and there is no musical score throughout, except a very little in the beginning and end. It is exquisite in that it tells the story of a great love, accompanied by great suffering, and in that it demystifies any romantic notions we might have had about Arthur and his knights, as seen in other films of the genre. The austerity of the interiors also does away with our romantic illusions.

The acting is amazing, and I identified with the actor playing Guinevere in particular. The last scene of the movie, in which Lancelot, dying, says only one word: "Guinevre" (French version of Guinevere), stays with the viewer forever.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
What to make of this movie? Blood squirts and drips from severed heads and sliced groins like thick cherry juice. Lancelot says "J'taime' to Guinevere with all the passion of a piece of cheese. As in most of Bresson's films, the acting is expressionless, but here it is emotionless. "You are alone in your pride," says Guinevere to Lancelot, while she stares at him without a trace of feeling. "Pride in what is not yours is a falsehood." "I was to bring back the Grail," he tells her. "It was not the Grail," she says, "it was God you all wanted. God is no trophy to bring home. You were all implacable. You killed, pillaged, burned. Then you turned blindly on each other. Now you blame our love for this disaster...I do not ask to love you. Is it my fault I cannot live without you? I do not live for Arthur." Guinevere is austere and relentless. And Lancelot? "Poor Lancelot," one character says, "trying to stand his ground in a shrinking world."

It's been two years since Arthur sent his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail. Now, exhausted, defeated, at odds with each other, their numbers severely reduced by disease and fighting, the remnants have returned. Lancelot saw in a dream that he must renounce his love for Arthur's queen, but Guinevere will have none of that. Mordred lurks in the shadows, hinting and insinuating. Before long, the knights have chosen sides. A few will stand with Lancelot in defense of Guinevere. The rest will stand...not with Arthur, but with Mordred.

Bresson has taken the Arthurian legend and turned it into a tale of hopeless pessimism. If you don't care for spoilers, read no further. How hopeless? Nearly everyone dies except Guinevere.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A parody of Bresson directed by Bresson himself! October 29, 2009
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is the grand Arthurian legend as told by a minimalistic French modernist who is completely fed up with the world and it's values and recoils in horror at modernity and plunges himself into nihilism. That's what kind of film you're getting yourself into if you venture here. It would be a great disservice to this wonderful filmmaker if the only film a viewer ever encountered by him was this obnoxiously formal treatment of a famous myth. All the Bressonian trademarks are there, the non-professional actors doing their best to be plastic models for the filmmaker to mold, the dispensement of most cinematic devices such as music or special-effects. The capture of reality with as little input from the production team as possible was always a prime motivation. It is not the actors or the story we care about when we watch this kind of anti-film, it's all about the style. However style has reached a nadir here and this film as much of late Bresson lacks the inward qualities that this filmmaker became renowned for earlier in his career.

Bresson without spiritual strength is all formality and pretense. Just imagine if Bresson made this film back in the 1950s or even 60s when he was on top of his game! What a masterpiece this could have been! As it is, this is not a film without merit but it lapses into stylized parody. Was Bresson even conscious of this or did he not care one bit like usual? Take the jousting sequence for one example. Endless shots of a musician playing the pipes, then endless shots of a flag being raised to denote a particular combatant, then endless shots of midsections of horses and combatants, then endless shots of crowd reactions. You could never tolerate anything like this from anyone but Bresson but here he's pushing it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Bresson makes a turkey!
As a film teacher, a lifelong student of great cinema, and a fan of Bresson's work, I can't help but declare this to be surely Bresson's worst. Read more
Published on April 9, 2012 by Robert Blenheim
2.0 out of 5 stars No, sir...
I don't think this is the worst film ever - but it comes close. I think R. Bresson is one of the greatest filmmakers ever - "The Pickpocet" is one of my favorite films - Joan of... Read more
Published on October 8, 2009 by S. Kjaersdalen
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worse Movie I've Ever Seen
Other reviewers have said it better than I can (the one star reviewers that is.) This is the benchmark that one can judge all horrible flicks against. Read more
Published on September 7, 2008 by Manos
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious Rubbish
I'm not sure what to make of the reviews in praise of this film. They reviewers are clearly not fans of Arthurian mythos or historical films either. Read more
Published on June 6, 2006 by Andrew D. Leitch
1.0 out of 5 stars French rubbish
Anyone who can call this piece of Fench rubbish a 'masterpiece' is obviously caught up in that delusional mindset of Art moives having to be stripped of everything to make them... Read more
Published on December 31, 2005 by Alex Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars a very purposeful film
Robert Bresson is one of the most methodic directors of French cinema. In a way like Godard, you will either love his movies or find them a bit too intellectual - sometimes lacking... Read more
Published on April 12, 2005 by Stalwart Kreinblaster
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not for everyone...
French director Robert Bresson crafts this grim, anti-romantic, and super-artsy, somewhat low-budget deconstruction of the Arthurian legend. Read more
Published on February 19, 2005 by DJ Joe Sixpack
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad folks..really really humorously bad
Ok- listen..I realize there are people out there who. on the strength of a director's name or past accomplishments, will laud any and every attempt at 'ART'. Read more
Published on January 12, 2005 by MYSTR Treefrog
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem of the master of masters!
Bresson once more offers us his particular gaze about the Legend of The King Arthur and the Holly grial. Read more
Published on June 22, 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
4.0 out of 5 stars Old Legend , New Content
The Arthurian Legend is the most interesting and powerful blend of Christian virtue and Medieval valor in literature. Read more
Published on January 28, 2003 by Doug Anderson
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