King Arthur, student of Pelagius :)
- Clive Owen as King Arthur
Last night's rental movie was the 2004 film King Arthur. It had an unusual cast ... Clive Owen as Arthur, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, Stellan Skarsgård as Cerdic the Saxon, Mads Mikkelsen as Tristan, and Ivano Marescotti as St. Germanus of Auxerre, among others.
- Lancelot and Guinevere
The movie is kind of interesting because it diverges from the traditional King Arthur legends and films (like Camelot, Merlin, Excalibur, The Mists of Avalon, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail :), for its producers said it was based on new archaeological findings and was more historically accurate.
I don't know about that, but the storyline did differ in many ways, and it has some interesting twists .... Merlin, for instance, is not Arthur's wizard tutor, but the leader of the Pictish tribes who were being pushed to the north and west, called "Woads" in the film (because they used woad to dye their skin, I'd guess), and Guinevere, Merlin's daughter, is pretty good with a bow and arrow, I suppose a take on Boudica. Galahad isn't Lancelot's son - in fact, all the knights of the round table are in this movie said to be Sarmatians who are serving 15 years indentured servitude to Rome in Britain.
- Tristan and his hawk
One kind of interesting part is that they show Arthur, a Roman soldier of British/Roman ancestory, as a student of Pelagius and his doctrine of free will ( St. Germanus, appearing in the movie, was one of his real life detractors). Here's a little of what Wikipedia has to say about him ...
Pelagius (ca. 354 – ca. 420/440) was an ascetic monk and reformer who denied the doctrine of original sin, later developed by Augustine of Hippo, inherited from Adam and was declared a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was not, however, a cleric. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending himself against other theologians and the Catholic Church ..... After being banished from Rome, Pelagius headed east. He probably died in Palestine around 420, as reported by some. Others mention him living as many as twenty years later. The cause of his death is unknown, but it has been suggested that he was killed by his enemies in the Catholic Church.
- Guinevere with her woad on
Though the movie had its downsides - a hinky dialogue, a misrepresentation of Pelagianism, a bizarre mix of weapons and armour, showing all the Christians as rather venal and the Saxons as unredeemably evil with Cedric such a sociopath, he made my skin crawl - still it was entertaining ... the Picts were sort of freedom fighters that we came to embrace, there was a pretty nice scene with a fight on a frozen lake, the Battle of Mons Badonicus was not too bad, and the scenery, shot in Ireland, was beautiful.
- Cynric and his dad Cerdic with their Saxon horde
Here below is some of Roger Ebert's review of the movie, to which he gave three stars ....
[...] This new "King Arthur" tells a story with uncanny parallels to current events in Iraq. The imperialists from Rome enter England intent on overthrowing the tyrannical Saxons, and find allies in the brave Woads. "You -- all of you -- were free from your first breath!" Arthur informs his charges and future subjects, anticipating by a millennium or so the notion that all men are born free, and overlooking the detail that his knights have been pressed into involuntary servitude. Later he comes across a Roman torture chamber, although with Geneva and its Convention safely in the future, he doesn’t believe that Romans do not do such things.
The movie is darker and the weather chillier than in the usual Arthurian movie. There is a round table, but the knights scarcely find time to sit down at it. Guinevere is not a damsel in potential distress, but seems to have been cloned from Brigitte Nielsen in "Red Sonja." And everybody speaks idiomatic English -- even the knights, who as natives of Sarmatia might be expected to converse in an early version of Uzbek, and the Woads, whose accents get a free pass because not even the Oxford English Dictionary has heard of a Woad. To the line "Last night was a mistake" in "Troy," we can now add, in our anthology of unlikely statements in history, Lancelot's line to Guinevere as seven warriors prepare to do battle on a frozen lake with hundreds if not thousands of Saxons: "There are a lot of lonely men over there." (Her reply: "Don't worry. I won't let them rape you," also seems somewhat non-historical.)
Despite these objections, "King Arthur" is not a bad movie, although it could have been better. It isn't flat-out silly like "Troy," its actors look at home as their characters, and director Antoine Fuqua curtails the use of computer effects in the battle scenes, which involve mostly real people. There is a sense of place here, and although the costumes bespeak a thriving trade in tailoring somewhere beyond the mead, the film's locations look rough, ready and green (it was filmed in Ireland) .....
The movie ends with a pitched battle that's heavy on swords and maces and stabbings and skewerings, and in which countless enemies fall while nobody that we know ever dies except for those whose deaths are prefigured by prescient dialogue or the requirements of fate. I have at this point seen about enough swashbuckling, I think, although producer Jerry Bruckheimer hasn't, since this project follows right on the heels of his "Pirates of the Caribbean." I would have liked to see deeper characterizations and more complex dialogue, as in movies like "Braveheart" or "Rob Roy," but today's multiplex audience, once it has digested a word like Sarmatia, feels its day's work is done.
That the movie works is because of the considerable production qualities and the charisma of the actors, who bring more interest to the characters than they deserve. There is a kind of direct, unadorned conviction to the acting of Clive Owen and the others; raised on Shakespeare, trained for swordfights, with an idea of Arthurian legend in their heads since childhood, they don't seem out of time and place like the cast of "Troy." They get on with it.