Monday, 15 October 2012

DD3992 HONOURS PROJECT #4: King Arthur in other media

For most of my preliminary Honours research, I've been looking into the original legends of King Arthur. This has led me to two websites that contain information on this subject. They are:
1. Brittania: America's Gateway to the British Isles- King Arthur Section
Ford, D. N. (2011). King Arthur: The History, the Legend, the King. Retrieved from Britannia: America’s Gateway to the British Isles since 1996:
2. King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table
Currin, N. & Domini, A. (2001-2012). The Legendary King Arthur- King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table. Retrieved from

I have also looked at the various versions and adaptations of the Arthurian Legend throughout all types of media. They have included books, films, TV series and even video-games. The ones I have looked at in detail include:

1. Le Morte d’Arthur (1485) Thomas Malory (Book)
A compilation of stories from Arthurian legend collected by Thomas Malory. They detail Arthur’s birth up until his death at the hands of Mordred. It is the best known work based on the legends and is often used as a principal source by modern writers.
Malory, T. (1485). Le Morte d’Arthur. First published by William Claxton

2. The Once and Future King (1958) T.H. White (Book)
A four-part book detailing Arthur’s life from his childhood up to just before his final battle with Mordred. Loosely based on Le Morte D’Arthur. It is noted for White’s reinterpretations of many of the characters; here, Launcelot is instead the ugliest knight and a repressed sadist, Merlin ages backwards and Galahad is so perfect he is considered inhuman.
White, T. H. (1958). The Once and Future King. New York City, NY: HarperCollins

3. The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) John Steinbeck (Book)
A retelling of the Arthurian Legends based on Le Morte d’Arthur written to be understood by a modern day reader and with more exploration of the characters’ psychology.
Steinbeck, J. (1976). The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. New York City, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

4. The Sword in the Stone (1963) (Animated Film)
Animated film based on the first part of The Once and Future King. Follows Arthur through his childhood up until he pulls the sword from the stone. Merlin appears as his tutor, appearing like a stereotypical wizard. No other elements from the legends appear.
Disney, W. (1963). The Sword in the Stone. California, US: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.

5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) (Film)
Comedy film loosely based on king Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail. Arthur, Launcelot, Bedivere and Galahad appear and Excalibur is mentioned. The film follows the knights as they search for the Grail, but hijinks ensue.
Chapman, G. & Cleese, J. & Palin, M & Jones, T. & Gilliam, T. (1975). Monty Python and the Holy Grail. California, US: Sony Pictures Entertainment

6. Excalibur (1981) (Film)
Live-action adaptation of Le Morte d’Arthur. Roughly follows the same general plot of the book, with some minor differences.
Boorman, J. (1981). Excalibur. California, US: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

7. First Knight (1995) (Film)
Live-action film based on the romance between Guinevere and Launcelot. Oddly, it contains no magical elements, so Merlin and Morgan Le Fay are absent. Mordred’s role is taken by another Arthurian villain, Malagant. Notable for displaying an age difference between Arthur (played by Sean Connery) and Guinevere
Zucker, J. & Lowry, H. (1995). First Knight. California, US: Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.

8. Quest for Camelot (1998) (Animated Film)
Loosely based on the legends of King Arthur; Arthur, Camelot, the Round Table, Excalibur and Merlin appear, but no other elements are present. Furthermore, Mordred is replaced by the fictional Sir Rubar.1 major inconsistency is present; Excalibur is shown as the Sword in the Stone, whereas in the original legend this was Caliburn and Excalibur is obtained from the Lady of the Lake
Du Chau, F. (1998). Quest for Camelot. California, US: Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. Retrieved from online video:

9. King Arthur (2004) (Film)
Live-action film that marketed itself as the true version of the original king Arthur legend. In reality, it is full of inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies; Arthur and his ‘knights’ are roman captains, while Guinevere is a Celtic warrior queen and Merlin her father. Excalibur is also just an ordinary sword pulled from the grave of Arthur’s father. Aside from the Battle of Badon Hill at the film’s climax, it bears little or no resemblance to the original legends.
Fuqua, A. & Franzoni, D. & Bruckheimer, J. (2004). King Arthur. California, US: Touchstone Pictures

10. Merlin (1998) (TV Film)
TV miniseries detailing a somewhat faithful adaptation of Arthurian legend from Merlin’s perspective. The majority of the major characters are present and the story follows the same general plot as the legends. However, some details are different; it is Merlin himself that acquires Excalibur from the lake, later placing it within the stone for Arthur, and the wizard’s ultimate fate also differs from the legends. Furthermore, more prominence is given to the conflict between Merlin and the Fey queen Mab. Aside from this, it is more or less the traditional Arthurian legend.
Barron, S. (1998). Merlin. New York City, NY: Hallmark Entertainment (now known as Sonar Entertainment)

11. Merlin (2008) (TV Series)
Loose adaptation of Arthurian Legend presented as a family friendly weekly TV serial. The characters and elements are roughly the same, but many of the details differ significantly. For example, Merlin and Arthur are both the same age and are companions rather than mentor and student. Meanwhile, Merlin’s powers are not widely known, Guinevere is initially a serving girl, Launcelot is a peasant who becomes a knight and later sacrifices himself, while Mordred is a druid rather than Arthur’s bastard son. Furthermore, Excalibur is BOTH the sword in the stone and the sword in the lake (somehow). Currently running through its fifth series, where Arthur’s impending showdown with Mordred is a major plot point.
Jones, J. & Michie, J. & Capps, J. & Murphy, J. (2008-ongoing). Merlin. London, UK: FreemantleMedia

12. Camelot (2011) (TV Series)
A historical fantasy-drama adaptation of the King Arthur legends. It is both faithful to the source material yet attempts to be plausibly realistic. Some minor artistic liberties are taken; Merlin is much younger than he traditionally appears, the sword in the stone is atop a waterfall and known as the Sword of Mars, while Caliburn is a blacksmith who forges Excalibur. Much of the prophecy and mysticism is Merlin’s doing as well. Unfortunately, it only ran for one season.
Chibnall, C. & Hirst, M. (2011). Camelot. Colorado, US: Starz

13. Code Geass / Code Geass R2 (2006) (Anime)
Anime series about an alternate universe where an exiled prince of the Holy Britannian Empire leads a rebellion against his former homeland. Features manned bipedal mecha weapons known as Knightmare Frames. Many of these machine resemble and are even named after some of the Knights of the Round Table; Lancelot features throughout, but Knightmares known as Gawain, Mordred, Tristen, Percival and Galahad also appear. Other terms from the legends are also used, but only as names.
Taniguchi, G. & Okouchi, I. (2006). Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. Licensed by Madman Entertainment, Bandai Entertainment & Beez

14. Fate/stay Night (2006) (Anime)
Anime series about magi fighting over the Holy Grail. One of the characters is a female version of King Arthur, known as Arturia, who is summoned by the main character to aid him. This explained as history merely remembering her as a man. The rest of the traditional legend remains the same, aside from the fact that Mordred is a homunculus rather than a bastard.
Type-Moon (2006). Fate/Stay Night. Tokyo, Japan: Kadokawa Shoten

15. Sonic and the Black Knight (2009) (Video-Game)
Sonic the Hedgehog game loosely based on King Arthur’s legend. Many traditional Sonic character appear, including Knuckles and Tails, as the characters from the legends, while Sonic is guided by Caliburn, a talking sword. Here, Arthur is a construct created by Merlin that becomes corrupted, while Merlin’s granddaughter Merlina seeks to preserve the kingdom to prevent its inevitable demise.
Sonic Team (2009). Sonic and the Black Knight. Tokyo, Japan: SEGA

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