One of the most eagerly awaited movie for 2017, King Arthur – Legend of the Sword hits the big screens in South Africa this week.
FILM: KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD
CAST: CHARLIE HUNNAM, JUDE LAW, ASTRID BERGÈS-FRISBEY, DJIMON HOUNSOU, AIDAN GILLEN
DIRECTOR: GUY RITCHIE
Acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie brings his particular style to the epic fantasy action adventure King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Starring Charlie Hunnam in the title role, the film is an “iconoclastic take” on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur’s journey from the streets to the throne.
When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Arthur’s uncle, Vortigern (Jude Law), seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy.
Almost everyone knows the fabled Arthurian legend…or at least thinks they do. But in the hands of Ritchie, the tale takes on a decidedly gritty, modern edge and Arthur himself, not yet king, is instead a ruffian, a thoroughly reluctant hero compelled to discover his true destiny even as he fights against the very monarchy he is meant to rule.
“I think the best narratives take a man on a journey that transcends his limitations and allows him to evolve from his most basic nature into someone worthy of a bigger life,” says Ritchie, who also co-wrote and produced the film. “In our version of the story, Arthur’s life starts small: an urchin in a brothel, running the streets, learning to fight and dodging the law with his mates. Then the actions of others – some with good, some with not-so-good intentions – force him to expand his vision of who he could be.”
Charlie Hunnam, who stars in the titular role, says, “Guy has taken the classic hero’s journey and created an origin story with a very accessible Arthur for a new generation. Our Arthur has grown up fending for himself, rough and ready, carving out a little world where he’s a prince among thieves. But he’s no noble soul looking for a cause.”
Nevertheless, it’s looking for him, and as soon as Arthur comes into contact with Excalibur, that extraordinary piece of iron firmly embedded in granite, his life will change forever…like it or not.
“This is not your father’s King Arthur,” producer Akiva Goldsman echoes. “This isn’t a man faced with removing the sword from stone who is anxiously thinking, ‘Could it be me? Will it be me?’ This is a man who is thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here? Don’t let this be me.’ In fact, he has no idea what accomplishing such a feat will even mean for him, but he suspects it won’t have a desirable outcome. And he would be right.”
Of course, no King Arthur story would be complete without a bit of magic. Instead of dragons, however, the filmmakers wanted to create a new and unique mythical world, with “elephants longer than a football field and snakes as big as subway trains!” divulges co-writer/producer Joby Harold.
Feeling free to skirt around historical accuracy – the story is based in legend, after all – Harold envisioned a distinctive way to offset the grounded elements. “This is not your typical fantasy film. Fantasy is usually more lyrical, while this is much more textured, much coarser, and for me that is what makes it interesting as a fantasy landscape. We explore what it would be like to grow up one way only to discover your heritage is something else entirely. We give audiences the time to really get under Arthur’s skin, but we counter that sense of reality with massive fantastical components.”