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Excalibur Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Epic King Arthur saga with illicit affairs and brutality.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is no bedtime-fairy tale. Sex, gore, and death are fairly explicit in this version of the Arthur story, with bare breasts and buttocks especially in the Lancelot-Guinevere affair. Violence in combat includes impalings, sword- and axe-thrusts, throat slashings, beheadings, and a near-drowning, though the edge is taken off by the old-fashioned special effects. A matricide by strangulation. Nightmare imagery of rotting corpses dead in their armor. Christianity -- at least a Dark Ages brand of it -- is treated respectfully.

  • Families can talk about the centuries-old appeal of the story of King Arthur. How does this version compare to others?
  • How does the violence in this movie compare to more modern movies? Is it less intense because it's less sophisticated?
  • How does the period clothing and setting affect the way the sex is depicted, if at all? Does it seem less realistic than if it were depicted in a modern setting? Or more shocking? Romantic?

The good stuff
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    Messages: Staying true to source material, the narrative endorses and dramatizes medieval notions of the divine right of a king to rule as a monarch literally chosen by God. Still, there's an original-sin suggestion that Arthur's birth (a result of his father's treacherous lust and Merlin's sorcery) has sewn the seeds of his destruction. Plenty of illicit behavior that's all part of the mythology.

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    Role models: Sharp, simplified lines between good (Arthur, Percival) and evil (Morgana, Mordred), with the shades of gray being the adulterous lovers Lancelot and Guinevere, whose taboo affair seems to happen out of sheer destiny and inevitability. Fighting/yielding is the usual solution to arguments.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Frequent jousting and sword-battling, some of which results in blood spilling, throat slashing, impalements, decapitations, near-drownings, and hacked-off limbs, though everything has a less-than-realistic look thanks to the vintage effects. Rotting corpses, one of which is shown getting an eyeball pecked out. A villain beats and strangles his own mother.

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    Sex: Intercourse between knights, queens and kings -- one guy is fully armored, the woman is completely nude. Sir Lancelot shown naked from the rear. Lancelot and Guinevere have nude adultrous sex. While not depicted explicitly, Morgana bewitches her own half-brother, King Arthur, and deliberately gets pregnant by him.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Social drinking, cups around the Round Table. Communion-style drinking in a wedding ceremony and from the Holy Grail.