Touchstone and Beyond: A Story of Disney’s “King Arthur”
Blockbusters can be difficult to create. Even with a stellar cast, a talented director, and a new take on a classic tale, they sometimes fall flat at the box office. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer thought he had another epic series on his hands with the 2004 film king arthur, but its cost exceeded profits and thrilled the franchise’s potential, leaving this movie to age in the movie vault, until now.
Arthur (Clive Owen) and his fellow Sarmatian Knights: Lancelot (Ioan Gruffud), Tristan (Madds Mikkelsen), Gauvain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy), Bors (Ray Winstone) and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson), are on the dawn of freedom of service to the Roman Empire. For fifteen years they served Rome in Britain, and now they must complete one last mission to be free. Arthur and his men are tasked with saving a Roman citizen, the Pope’s favorite godson, from the invading Saxon army led by Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgard).
During the mission, Arthur also saves Guinevere (Keira Knightley) and before he knows it, Arthur is placed in a difficult position. While the Knights survived their last mission and gained their freedom to leave with the rest of the Roman army, the invasion by the Saxon army of Cerdic poses a threat to the British people the Wads, led by Merlin ( Stephen Dillane).
Spurred on by Guinevere, Arthur remains to defend Britain and unites with Merlin’s army to lead them into battle against the Saxon horde. A final battle for freedom is needed and before the first blood is shed, his Sarmatian Knights return to join Arthur at the start of the Battle of Badon Hill.
Clive Owen is brilliant as Arthur. I love the fact that Arthur was stripped of the role of king and placed at the head of an elite Calvary unit. This role allows Owen to shine and bring his physical presence to a role he lives so well. Not only does Owen seem like a Supreme Warrior, but his physical presence dominates an impressive support cast.
The supporting cast is supreme. The Sarmatian Knights are an unbelievably talented who’s who that I felt like when the movie came out in 2004, people didn’t realize how talented these supporting actors were. Clive Owen is an excellent Arthur, but when the Knights cast include Hugh Dancy, Ray Winstone, Ray Stevenson, Joel Edgerton, Madds Mikkelsen and Ioan Gruffud, you couldn’t ask for a better group of talented actors to play the Knights. legendaries of the round table. Plus, Stellan Skarsgard is the villain, the icing on the cake.
Keira Knightley is a beautiful Guinevere, and probably a better version of the legendary character than most cinematic depictions. I especially liked that the usual love triangle that plays out in other King Arthur movies was dropped for this movie.
The film was supposed to be an R-rated picture and was filmed and edited to be an R-rated film. Disney executives ditched this idea and called for a cross-cut to PG-13, which removed much of the film reality for bloodless battle scenes. king arthur would benefit from the blood and blood of the battlefield. The world of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table was a bloody place, and this story was too clean for the reality of this alleged truer tale of Arthurian legend.
Fun facts about the movies
- Stellan Skarsgard turned down the role of Cerdic on several occasions, but director Antoine Fuqua didn’t want anyone else for the role, so he continued to approach the actor until Skarsgard accepted the role.
- Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackman turned down the role of Arthur.
- Clive Owen got the then unknown role Daniel Craig because Bruckheimer believed Owen was going to be the next James Bond and that would give the film more financial value in the DVD market.
- It was director Antoine Fuqua who deleted the Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot love triangle that was supposed to be in the original screenplay. During his research for the film, Fuqua came to believe that there was no truth in the relationship between the three.
- A director’s cut that shows more blood and violence was released on DVD, but according to Fuqua, even the directors cut pale from what he wanted to show in the film.
- The ratings battle for the film was a bone of contention between director, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney executives. The two fought against Disney’s backsliding for an R rating, but lost the battle to pressure from the executive.
- One of the main criticisms of the film at the time of release were the bloodless battle scenes.
- The film crew had to build a replica of Hadrian’s Wall as director Antoine Fuqua focused on using practical effects that actors could see and interact with.
- Michael Bay was the original director attached to the film and is said to have developed the film over a period of five years. He left the project for budgetary reasons.
- The film was supposed to end after Lancelot’s funeral, but audiences at the test screening wanted a more upbeat ending. Antoine Fuqua would have preferred the darker end.
- Historians have great reviews for the film. While the film was marketed as a true story of the legend of Arthur, historical inaccuracies in the film baffled several Arthurian scholars when the film was released.
The Golden Popcorn Bucket Award
I loved king arthur when it hit theaters and I don’t understand why people hated the movie so much. The actors are perfect in their performances, and the world-building achieved in the film could have established a long film franchise. Even Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars mainly for the quality of the production and the charisma of the actors.
king arthur gets 4 buckets of golden popcorn to be an outstanding action film with a supreme cast of talented actors.
The blockbuster destruction continues next week with yet another Miss Jerry Bruckheimer, the 2002 Anthony Hopkins / Chris Rock action pic, Bad company.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Jerry Bruckheimer Films
- Clive Owen as Arthur
- Keira Knightley as Guinevere
- Ioan Gruffud as Lancelot
- Madds Mikkelsen as Tristan
- Joel Edgerton as Gauvain
- Hugh Dancy as Galahad
- Ray Winstone as Bors
- Ray Stevenson as Dagonet
- Stellan Skarsgard as Cerdic
- Stephen Dillane as Merlin
Release date: July 7, 2004
Budget: $ 120 million
National: $ 51,882,244
World Total: $ 203,567,857