return of the king: watching The Legend of King Arthur after 25 years [Sun, 14 Dec 2014 16:46:12 +0000]
When I was in high school, the old A&E network [http://www.aetv.com/] was quite a different animal than it must be now. I don't know the last time they showed a video production of Mozart's Don Giovanni or a performance by the likes of Jacques Loussier - I still remember recording and re-watching a Bach to Bach [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xng_QbhHGY] trio performance all those years ago. Around the same time, I was really getting into Norse mythology, Arthurian legend, Tolkien, and The Chronicles of Prydain. I had also heard about a movie called Excalibur [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excalibur_%28film%29] and was able to rent it. In fact, I think the guy at the video store let me rent the R-rated version of the film even though I was too young to do so. He took a liking to me because of my tastes - he and I both loved the BBC Robin Hood [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_of_Sherwood] series that eventually featured Sean Connery's son Jason. One night, I remember watching TV in my parents' room (while avoiding a dinner party of theirs or something) and I caught the end of this mini-series on A&E about King Arthur. It blew me away and I was able to see the rest of the episodes here and there throughout the following weeks. I never did know the name of the series. So a few years ago, I finally was able to learn the name with the help of the inter-webs. It was called The Legend of King Arthur. Through worldcat.org [http://www.worldcat.org/title/legend-of-king-arthur/oclc/66247473?referer=brief_results] I also learned that only one library in the world at the time claimed to have a copy. I believe the library was in the Netherlands. At any rate, interlibrary loan wasn't an option. In addition to that disappointment, I couldn't find the thing for sale anywhere online nor could I - years later - find it on YouTube, etc. Until now. It appears that it's been posted on YouTube since February 2014. The audio/video quality isn't the best, but it's watchable if you, like me, have wanted to see this series for nearly 25 years. The first episode is particularly bad in terms of video quality, but the quality gets a little better after the first part. Being home sick all last week with a terrible stomach bug, I watched the whole series in one sitting (or rather lying on the bed). Here's the link to the series playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFl8DcSep9XQ-6b0XKUgWhNYxwT4qR8T8 [https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFl8DcSep9XQ-6b0XKUgWhNYxwT4qR8T8]. It's funny that there wasn't that much too new to me, so I must have caught the majority of the series back in the day and remembered the most important details. What's new for me is that at the time I focused on the knights and what they surely represented to me as a boy wanting to grow up. Now, I largely took from it how unsympathetic a character Guinevere was and how so much trouble came about over someone who just wasn't worth it. That's something I've had to learn in my later years as a grown-up boy, of course. As far as the series, the acting is great and, while it's been years since I read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, it seems more comprehensive in scope than John Boorman's film, which is also excellent.