First Knight

Could the title be a suggestive allusion to the fact that "all" will be revealed before us on a modern cinema screen concerning that fateful moment between the ravishing Lancelot and the ravished Guinevere? In short, no. This is a romantic (you better believe it) reworking of the Camelot legend with a few changes and lot of cat-and-mouse love story thrown in.

The pictures throughout are beautifully composed. The villages on fire are stunning, Camelot by candlelight is breathtaking, and even the bottomless pit becomes delightful. The images alone are worth the price of a ticket. Take, for example, the moment when Lancelot is kneeling in the chapel with his robe draped perfectly behind him. It makes one wonder how he managed it by himself.

William Nicholson's screenplay concentrates most strongly on the love interests. Despite the addition of several engaging battles to the film and the introduction of fascinating new material concerning Lancelot's past, the tale becomes tedious after a while. As a song from centuries later would have it: "unrequited love's a bore." And there are some problems in the story line: e.g. One wonders what Lancelot was doing atop the turret of Guinevere's castle when he suddenly appears and manages to save her from abduction. No one else could get near her. Is he perhaps a voyeur?

Sean Connery is perfect as Arthur and especially impressive in making the transition when he becomes aware of and tormented by the feelings shared between the young lovers. Julia Ormond is a beautiful Guinevere, but never seems able to restrain her feelings for Lancelot quite enough despite the fact that she often talks about her strong will. Gere is charming as Lancelot in those moments when he's flirting with the Lady and enjoyable whenever he's thrusting around with his sword, but doesn't convince with his troubled guilt or subservience to the King. His memorable star quality seems to project itself too much through his costume. Ben Cross as the evil Malagant more or less steals the show every time he shows his evil (and possibly too tanned?) face. One wonders if he will become the next villain to appear in the Die Hard series.

Mythology doesn't survive this affair. John Boorman wove a much more fascinating tapestry with his Excalibur. Producer Jerry Zucker has produced not a less polished, but a less interesting story than he did with Ghost. Maybe the barriers in this love story aren't drawn sharply enough to have impact.

Superb points for production designer John Box as well as costume designer Nana Cecchi for visual magic on screen.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett