The trailer for Guy Ritchie’s reimagining of the classic Arthurian legend landed on IMDB. I pressed play and gawped in wonder as it unfolded before me. The trailer ended. I sat back in my chair and I knew that I needed to see it. I knew it was important.
The day came for its cinematic release and the reviews flooded in. Apparently, it was not very good. A flop. I felt cheated by the trailer.
I put off watching the film for a while out of spite. I did eventually manage it, and afterwards, I confidently emerged with my own opinion – this film is being overlooked.
I want to say here and now that while I may think it is important. I do NOT think it is necessarily good. Sure, it’s enjoyable but it isn’t Snatch.
It is the kind of importance that won’t be recognised until some years later, when we look back over the political storm that has been happening over the past few years, when we then revisit Arthur: Legend of the Sword; then maybe we will understand.
The plot undoubtedly twists the original legend but as it stands, the key elements are still in play. There is a sword in a stone, a man called Arthur and a hint of sorcery. There will be some mild spoilers. Sorry.
Ritchie didn’t do a very good job of ordering the story. With explanation of what happened before seriously lacking, we are lumbered with some mockney-cocnkey wide boy (Charlie Hunnam) as our lead. He is sort of plonked ungraciously onto our laps.
For our villain, Ritchie recreated the evil King Vortigern (Jude Law) as a poor-mans Saruman/Sauron from LOTR. He spends most of the film building a power-tower and turns up in flame-clad armour towards the end. Throw in a few familiar faces like David Beckham and Bobs your uncle. It’s a Ritchie film.
The soundtrack is a true delight, however. A true fucking delight.
Predictably he did a terrible job of the script. Apparently everyone in Londinium says ‘mate’ and has a nickname based on a character trait, like ‘Dodgey Dave’ or ‘Steve the Sexual Assaulter’.
This is exactly what we should expect this toffee nosed fraudster to assume London is like. The closest Guy has ever come to being cockney is the smell of pie and eels, as he canters past the shop, en-route to a fox hunt. Sorry Guy, but you know it’s true.
These are just the aesthetics of the film but unfortunately the reviews are not wrong, it is shoddy.
The real meat is in the message. This is why I can turn a blind eye to the rest.
The movie seems to constantly point-out the young taking over from the old. The plot tells us that his dad died and his uncle is really ballsing it all up.
Arthur is frightened of taking on the new responsibility and having a say in how his kingdom is ruled, even though he has every right and opportunity to.
Arthur is decidedly apathetic towards the cause and wants to look out for himself – until it affects him. Then him and his ‘mates’ come together and transform how Londinium is run.
Does that sound like anyone? Perhaps the apathetic youth voters of today?
Does that ring true to the headlines over the past few months? Millennials moaning at the oldies for fucking it all up. Brexit. Horror. Shock. Kale and Quinoa. Mortgage prices.
It certainly sounds like it is drawing a parallel to the political and media climate of late. If you aren’t convinced, then let me try further.
Vortigen had a sweet ass trade deal going with the Vikings, and we all know where they come from (*cough* Europe *cough*).
At the end of the film Arthur and his merry band of mockneys begin to assemble the round table and the Vikings rock up.
They ask Arthur if the same deal stands.
The vikings remind him that they have an army of ships on the waters surrounding Londinium and that they could make things very difficult for trading.
Arthur replies: “You are no longer dealing with the man you previously met. You are addressing England and all the subjects under her kings protection. So you have a choice: you can now kneel to England, or, ill step off this throne and you can deal with me as the man you previously met and we can see how that goes.”
He then goes on to say: “Why have enemies when you can have friends?”
You’re probably right. There probably isn’t a message there at all, it’s all just a figment of my imagination….