May 16, 2015

And it was all fire


Excalibur (John Boorman, 1981). Like dreaming something dark, confusing and violent and struggling to make sense of it later. Nicol Williamson’s charismatic Merlin is initially your guide through it – all the shouting, fire and hacking off of limbs – before he is treacherously sidelined by a girlish (only 35) Helen Mirren as Morgana. Everything here is collapsing and doomed even as it starts; some of the images feel very deep, primal, raw and original. You can’t stop thinking that somewhere in here too is the outline or maybe the corpse of Boorman’s abandoned Lord of the Rings: what kind of film would that have been?