On the occasion of its release on DVD in France on the 20th of September, OOK magazine proposes to (re)discover King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the ninth feature film directed by British filmmaker Guy Ritchie in which he shows his own vision of the famous legend of the Knights of the Round Table. Thus, he offers us a fascinating movie that gives a good gulp from the Fountain of Youth to a story that has been told so many times.
After he revamped the adventures of the renowned inspector Sherlock Holmes in two successful films, Guy Ritchie revisits another landmark of Anglo-Saxon culture: the legend of King Arthur. In his new movie, he plunges us in fictional Middle Ages in which the Kingdom of Britain is in great turmoil. After the death of Uther Pendragon (played by Eric Bana), the country is governed by his despotic brother Vortigern (incarnated by Jude Law). In order to try and put an end to his tyranny, a group of rebels calls on Arthur (Charlie Hunnam, known for his role in the TV show Sons of Anarchy), Uther’s son, who grew up in the brothels of Londinum. He must get hold of the magic sword Excalibur and master its powers to take back the crown that is his by right.
Yet, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is far from being an umpteenth adaptation of the story we all know. In fact, it is a very modern and up-to-date adventure movie. We recognize the very peculiar style of the director of Sherlock Holmes, with numerous rhythm changes, accelerated sequences and hard hitting dialogues filled with British humour. Like in many of his other works, he even inserted a cameo of himself as a house owner. That of David Beckham as an ill-tempered soldier, that was thoroughly commented, is actually quite funny. The filmmaker also multiplies references to the classics of heroic fantasy, notably in the – beautiful – settings and costumes so that he creates an atmosphere that reminds us of that of The Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, the soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton, mixing electronic music and traditional Celtic tones, sublimates the movie and highlights its modernity.
Moreover, the actions build up extremely rapidly, thus creating a very fast-paced plot served by a series of endearing supporting characters, such as Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen, aka Petyr Baelish in Game of Thrones), a friend of Arthur’s who handles sarcasm as well as bows and arrows, or Bedivere, the charismatic leader of the rebellion played by the impressive Djimon Hounsou. One should also acknowledge the great performances of Charlie Hunnam who incarnates a King Arthur who looks pretty much like a Viking and corresponds to the idea we usually have of the slightly bad modern hero, and of Jude Law who, despite his role as a bloodthirsty dictator, never indulges in caricature or stereotypes.
So, in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie plunges the Knights of the Round Table in the 21st century. Brilliant!
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie, USA,UK, Australia, 2017, 2h06, released in theatres in May 2017 and on DVD in the United States of America on the 8th of August 2017 and in France on the 20th of September 2017.