Excalibur (1981)

According to reports from the set, director John Boorman commandeered the Arthurian adventure Excalibur in the manner of a medieval war lord, expecting his cast and crew to figuratively die with swords in hand if need be. As a result,… More

Directed By:
Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: April 10, 1981
DVD Release Date: September 21, 1999
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Critic Score: 80% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: John Boorman's operatic, opulent take on the legend of King Arthur is visually remarkable, and features strong performances from an all-star lineup of British thespians.

Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine

Give Boorman credit for the loopy grandeur of his imagery and imaginings, for the sweet smell of excess, for his heroic gamble that a movie can dare to trip over its pretensions -- and still fly.

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Geoff Andrew
Time Out

For all its audacity, a misguided folly.

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Tim Brayton
Alternate Ending

As a plunge into the feeling, rather than the denotative qualities, of medieval literature, it's a great pleasure.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader

There is humor here (in the form of a vaudeville Merlin, played by Nicol Williamson) as well as a diminution of scale that seems intended to help audiences through the thornier byways of Boorman's vision.

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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

What a wondrous vision Excalibur is! And what a mess.

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Jesús Fernández Santos
El Pais (Spain)

Well, if there's anything wrong with [John] Boormans' version, it's just fancy and obviously in bad taste. [Full review in Spanish]

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Variety Staff

Exquisite, a near-perfect blend of action, romance, fantasy and philosophy, finely acted and beautifully filmed by director John Boorman and cinematographer Alex Thomson.

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Vincent Canby
New York Times

Mr. Boorman takes these myths very seriously, but he has used them with a pretentiousness that obscures his vision.

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Sky Cinema

The result is almost always the handsomest of films to behold. Storywise it has its moments, too, although it never quite achieves the difficult blend of grandeur and madness for which it strives.

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More reviews for Excalibur

Flixster Audience Score: 80% Flixster User Reviews
John Manard
Simply the best Arthurian legend movie ever made. John Boorman was at his best directing this film.
paul sandberg
Beautifully filmed in the wilds of Ireland, Excalibur tells the Arthurian legend in a way that is gritty, real, and at times heart breaking. There have been… More
Phil Hubbs
Set in the wilds of Ireland and with a pretty full cast of Irish actors, which set in motion the careers of both Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne, whilst also… More
Kevin M. Williams
Although flawed this is still the best of the tellings of one of the central myths of Western thought. Filled with lust, murder, magic, glory, vanity, and… More
Jens S.
Still the movie that sticks closest to the King Arthur myth in its original form, this film is like a strike with a two-hand blade. Beautifully filmed in real… More
Sergio Garcia
Honestly I don't know the name of the actors. At least the main characters. But it doesn't matter its a GORGEOUS movie. The mithology around King… More