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Excalibur Details


John Boorman directed this gloriously savage interpretation of Arthurian legend loosely based on Thomas Malory's novel Le Morte d'Arthur. By turns gleaming and filthy, tender and bloody, the film is a visually stunning epic which is never less than compelling. Nigel Terry is perfectly cast as Arthur, whose unwavering trust and faith are shown to be both quietly heroic and achingly naïve. Interestingly, the quest for the Grail is the least effective part of the film, despite bold cinematography by Alex Thomson (who was nominated for an Oscar) and a fine performance by Paul Geoffrey as Perceval, whose greatest desire is attained in his dying sight. It is the scenes of Camelot in which Boorman is at his most effective, as Arthur is betrayed by the burning passions of Guenevere (Cherie Lunghi) and Lancelot (Nicholas Clay), whose boiling internal forces cannot be denied, whatever the cost. The wicked Mordred (Robert Addie) and Morgana (Helen Mirren) are commanding when onscreen, and Nicol Williamson's performance as the grandiosely self-sacrificing Merlin is outstanding. Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart also appear in this dense, passionate, and stirring triumph featuring a marvelous Trevor Jones score. The gruesome effects by Peter Hutchinson and Alan Whibley, however, and sights such as a knight having sex in full body armor make this a fairy tale strictly for adults. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

  • Release date:April 10, 1981


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Alex Thomson Best Cinematography 1981 Nominee
Cannes Film Festival John Boorman Best Artistic Contribution 1981 Winner


Nigel Terry
as King Arthur
Nicol Williamson
as Merlin
Helen Mirren
as Morgana
Cherie Lunghi
as Guenevere
Paul Geoffrey
as Perceval
Robert Addie
as Mordred
Gabriel Byrne
as Uther
Keith Buckley
as Uryens
Katrine Boorman
as Igrayne
Liam Neeson
as Gawain
Corin Redgrave
as Cornwall
Clive Swift
as Ector
Liam O'Callaghan
as Sadok
Barbara Byrne
as Young Morgana
Brid Brennan
as Lady in Waiting
Garrett Keogh
as Mador
Emmet Bergin
Ciarán Hinds
as Lot
Niall O'Brien
as Kay
Charley Boorman
as Boy Mordred
Patrick Stewart
as Leondegrance


John Boorman
John Boorman
John Boorman
Rospo Pallenberg
Thomas Malory
Book Author
Alex Thomson
Trevor Jones
Composer (Music Score)
Donn Cambern
Anthony Pratt
Production Designer
Tim Hutchinson
Art Director
Bertram Tyrer
Art Director
Michael Dryhurst
Associate Producer
Edgar Gross
Executive Producer
Bob Ringwood
Costume Designer
Gerry Johnston
Special Effects
Peter Hutchinson
Special Effects
Alan Whibley
Special Effects
John Lawlor
First Assistant Director
David Murphy
First Assistant Director
Barry Blackmore
First Assistant Director
Terry English
Anthony Van Laast
Mary Selway
Anna Dryhurst
Ron Davis
Supervising Sound Editor
Basil Newall