Making the Grades
What makes a man in uniform so appealing? Could it be dedication to his job? Perhaps it's his 70 lb suit of armor. Whatever the allure, even English folklore has its own example of the timeless (and in this case -- tragic) attraction. The Arthurian legend and its infamous love triangle as told by T.H. White in The Once and Future King, was adapted for the silver screen as the epic musical Camelot
Waiting for a terrible battle to begin, King Arthur (Richard Harris) pauses to reflect on how his life ended up in such a mess. Merlyn (Laurence Naismith), his childhood teacher, mysteriously appears and prompts him to remember the first day he met Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave). After overcoming the jitters of their arranged marriage, the new couple, together as King and Queen, begin to build a civilized, united England and establish an order of Knights. In such a paradise they should have lived happily ever after.
But along comes Sir Lancelot (Franco Nero). Eager to prove his gallantry and join the castle's ranks, the pompous and self-righteous Frenchman at first seems better suited for court jester. The overachieving hero's incredible deeds and feats of skill eventually win everyone's respect, and sadly, Guenevere's heart. For Arthur, it is pure emotional torture watching the two people he loves most betray him -- thus is the beginning of the end.
The theme of infidelity is tastefully portrayed as a terrible mistake. Any scenes implying sexuality are limited to characters shown bare-shouldered or wrapped in blankets. Song lyrics to The Lusty Month of May (which encourage naughtiness) are mild enough that the film is still recommendable for families.
This knight-in-shining-armor tale was given a lavish production budget as well as big-ticket names to draw audiences. Although it fell short of high expectations, it still managed to reel in three Oscars: Best Art & Set Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Music. Its successful formula of mixing romance, action, and a popular story catered to many tastes and rendered Camelot the reigning monarch by which all other medieval movies are measured.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Camelot.
King Arthur and Guenevere wonder with longing about life outside of the castle in the musical number What Do the Simple Folk Do? Why would anyone in the upper class envy a peasant? Why do the poor often envy the rich and powerful? What things bring real happiness?
Several of the characters choose between passion and responsibility. How do the consequences of their decisions affect each other?
For everything you ever care to know (and more) about the legendary King Arthur, check out “http://www.britannia.com/history/arthur/kaking.html