Posted By on October 25, 2011

Thinking about the relationship between story, writing, and actors in a movie today. I saw Camelot, when I was young. I read The Once and Future King even before that, and didn’t realize Camelot was based on it until I stumbled across the movie.

I’m not a big fan of musicals. I mean, how many times in real life can you burst into song without having the folks you’re singing at flee? But there’s Richard Harris. And his eyes. That man does amazing things with his eyes. A-maz-ing. If only I could put the emotion into words that he put into his eyes.

And I watch this movie, watch Arthur choose to live as if the people around him will make the same honorable choices he makes. And I’m furious with Guinevere because she chooses a “sainted” Lancelot who declares he loves her, though he’s best friends with her husband–though he owes everything to her husband. (There’s some passive aggressive envy in Lancelot–unless you can believe in his and G’s love that cannot be denied. Which, obviously, I can’t.)

I love this story. Really. I love it, although I find it too painful to watch too often. The flaw for me is that Lancelot is only noble until he find a challenge he doesn’t want to face. And was he ever really a noble spirit, or did he simply embrace doing a difficult thing that wasn’t difficult for him? I can’t even find empathy for him after he says the words that make Guinevere break her vows to Arthur. And I don’t know how a woman turns her back on an Arthur for a Lancelot.

It’s a 1967 movie, and there’s a montage of all G and L’s happy relationship moments, but I’m not charmed or persuaded by them because I’m so appalled that a man could tell his best friend’s wife that he loves her. Mind you, it is a movie (limited time), but give them a little struggle. It’s too easy for both of them to simply do the wrong thing. Especially when the basis of the men’s friendship is a society based on nobility of spirit.

And from the moment Arthur decides not to see the truth unless his faithless wife and loathsome friend tell it to him straight out, he also stops making noble decisions. Except his decision to be blind also brings about the justice system in this version of history.

Camelot was not such a shining example after all.

The story troubles me, but I can’t look away from Richard Harris. As he cautions two people who refuse to control their own weakness that they cannot allow fate to win the battle over right. I know L and G are incapable of an Arthurian choice, but I still hope because I don’t want Arthur to be hurt.

This is a case where the story kind of fails for me because I don’t believe in L and G’s motivation to hurt someone they both love, but Richard Harris is so intense, such a great actor, he keeps me involved.

For me, he’s a better actor than the writing. And yet, I’m predisposed to believe the writing is the most important part of a story.


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2 Responses to “Camelot”

  1. Kailana says:

    I have never watched this movie before. I really like Arthurian things, so I will have to look into it!

  2. admin says:

    I hope you’ll let me know what you think if you do try it. It’s amazing!

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