The Imaginationland episodes of South Park were a trilogy of goodness.

And who did I spy in the lineup of evil characters but Mordred, the gold-armoured villain from MY FAVOURITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME ™ – Excalibur.

We watched it again last night and it remains number one. The lush images, the epic grandeur, the humour, the acting … stars included Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Nicholas Clay (also known for starring in “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” with Sylvia Kristel), Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne and I just noticed the lovely Ciaran Hinds too. And Robert Addie as the older Mordred I remember well from his role of Guy of Gisborne in the Michael Praed “Robin of Sherwood”.

Music is used effectively, and the drama of “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff at various set points of the movie is rousing as heck.

“Excalibur” is a beautiful rendering of the classic Arthur story, a myth that I love so much it has sunk into my personal mythology. When I got a tattoo, I left the middle of it empty until I thought of an image I wanted there. And after some time, I decided to show the Lady of the Lake brandishing Excalibur.

My love of Arthurian legend is very much interwoven with my love of Pre-Raphaelite art, poetry, literature … and here is another view of the legend from Aubrey Beardsley.

Tennyson’s poem Morte d’Arthur has a similar air of power and romance. The dying Arthur tells Bedivere (in the film it is the stoic Percival) to throw Excalibur back into the lake:

for thou rememberest how
In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And took it, and have worn it, like a king

That’s the line that resonates with me, and in the movie (directed by John Boorman of “Deliverance” fame) the Lady of the Lake’s brandishing of the sword, with her arm swathed in translucent sparkling cloth is just perfection.

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
And, leaping down the ridges lightly, plunged
Among the bulrush-beds, and clutch’d the sword,
And strongly wheel’d and threw it. The great brand
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon,
And flashing round and round, and whirl’d in an arch,
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn,
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
By night, with noises of the northern sea.
So flash’d and fell the brand Excalibur:
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandish’d him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.
And lightly went the other to the King.

Wikipedia entries:
Excalibur the movie
Excalibur the sword