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Lancelot of the Lake

3.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Luc Simon, Laura Duke Condominas, Humbert Balsan, Vladimir Antolek-Oresek, Patrick Bernhard
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Producers: François Rochas, 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: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y4LEG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,409 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lancelot of the Lake" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: VHS Tape
The Arthurian Legend is the most interesting and powerful blend of Christian virtue and Medieval valor in literature. In Bressons hands, however, the search for the Holy Grail does not inspire acts of virtue or valor. In fact the search proves to be quite demoralising and leads to a lot of infighting. Once faith is lost so is unity and all that is left is a grab for power. Arthur is barely a character, he simply is the one who is slightly older and has slightly shorter hair and wears a crown. Lancelot is a kind of Hamlet who can't decide what he stands for. He loves Guinevere but he wants to do what is right for the kingdom as well. Ultimately he does the right thing and returns her to the king but too late--the favoritism shown him by both Queen and King has turned him into a target to the other Knights. Mordred is his most powerful detractor and the more Lancelot wavers the stronger and more resolute he becomes. In subverting the Arthurian legend or secularising it Bresson has turned the story into a Shakespearean tragedy about loyalty and betrayal. He's turned a story which dealt in absolutes (or at least in a search for absolutes)where people are defined by actions which can be deemed good or bad into a story which deals only in relative truths where all acts are marked with uncertainty and doubt. He's turned an old story into a new one.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
The story of Lancelot is one of loyalty, and who better to agonizingly dissect such a concept than Robert Bresson? His film is an investigation of the conceits of "unifying poetic myth," and none of the values allegedly transmitted through shared tradition emerge without the taint of flawed humanity. As always, Bresson darkens and reduces: Arthur is an anti-figure, Camelot is stark and roughhewn (though it is never dwelt upon, his vision of the round table, and the chairs around the table, are to my mind as stunning a bit of set design as you will ever find), nowhere does magic or myth pervade the storyline. The camera moves with guilty severity, Guenivere is near comatose, a voice of (t?)reason frozen in rigid profile. There is no "spectacle" (the famous jousting sequence is consciously anti-spectacular, but still a riveting use of camera and sound), the sumptuous beauty of the film comes from Bresson's compositions of human figures, stark lighting, and muddy green-brown colors. Lancelot du Lac is a magnificent, beautiful movie, a perfect setting and story for Bresson's signature touches. Those looking for a swashbuckling Arthurian epic will be disappointed; those looking for a rigorous but rewarding investigation of conscience, fate, and tradition will be deeply rewarded.
The film begins with the information that "The Grail has not been found" and ends with a single word and image that implode a whole universe of myth.
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