Once in a decade comes a fantasy/drama that beholds the audience from the very beginning till its end. It takes a lot of courage to turn an epic tale into an independent film. We had many films on King Arthur, but Guy Ritchie brings a new vision to the legendary British King’s journey from nowhere. The authenticity and historical accuracy regarding various events in Arthur’s life is debatable. However, unlike Bollywood filmmakers, Ritchie has marketed his magnum opus in the fantasy genre that takes cue from ancient fables to dramatize the narrative. Since, there are different interpretations about King Arthur typically based upon folklore and literary invention, so it would be a vague argument to critique the film on historical accounts.
The cast and crew of the mega venture directed by Guy Ritchie is its USP. It’s not just the script but well-defined roles assigned to technicians and artists that make a masterpiece. The tallest figure in this historical fiction is its antagonist essayed by Jude Law. The actor who has displayed his versatile acting skills in different genres lives up to the character of Arthur’s evil uncle Votigern. Eric Bana follows suit as King Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon. The actor has showcased his warrior skills in the Brad Pitt-starrer Troy where he played the valiant warrior-prince Hector who battles for his family’s honor. The lead role played by Charlie Hunnam has a journey of a nobody who ends up discovering his potential as a thrown heir. Hunnam has amicably enacted the trauma, frustration, struggle and hardships of a Prince raised in a brothel trying to fit in as a leader of a kingdom. The storyline of David Dobkin (Academy Awards, Golden Globes nominations for The Judge-2014) and Joby Harold and the screenplay by Ritchie, Harold and Lionel Wigram (Screenplay and story – The Man from UNCLE) makes it easier for every single actor on board to bring life to their characters on-screen.
Although the film is based on the usual three-act structure, it never loses its grip, be it in terms of screenwriting, dialogues, art-direction, visual effects, cinematography or editing. VFX Supervisor Nick Davis and Cinematographer John Mathieson are the real backbone of the movie as it wasn’t for them the world of ancient witchcraft and warfare in England could not have been filmed in a better way. Daniel Pemberton’s music goes well with the events of treachery, bloodshed, vengeance, destiny and self-discovery throughout the film.
Guy Ritchie is the real mage behind this next to impossible venture by working on every department with equal finesse. The movie is not just a regular VFX treat in the lines of mindless popcorn flicks. The strongest pillar of this incredible motion art is its larger-than-life script. The philosophy and intention behind the film pushes the story, characters, actors, technicians beyond their comfort zones. Both the central character’s journey and the making of such kind of cinema is a challenge in itself. The life story of young prince Arthur when he was deprived of his birthright till the time he realises his true potential as a just and chivalrous leader unravels with the complexities and solutions of life, time and death. The film is as enlightening as a Paulo Coelho or Deepak Chopra book without being preachy with clichéd quotations. In a hard-hitting film like The Revenant, it is easier to presume dialogues forming an essential part of character building. But a fictional drama like King Arthur redefines entertainment from an artistic perspective.
Every film comes with its own flaws, but Guy Ritchie manages to overcome the same by bringing a well-crafted script along with a talented star cast. The surprise element in the entire movie stands out to be Astrid Berges Frisbey who plays the role of The Mage who guides Arthur in his quest for realising his self-identity as a true successor of a royal legacy. Astrid shows promise as she portrays the most complex and mysterious character with utmost perfection by displaying multiple expressions. The chemistry between Hunnam and Frisbey is well-toned without any sexuality in it. The best part of any Hollywood flick is its compact structure as it sticks to the basics and the scenes and events shot are perfectly in tune with the script regardless of any sensationalism. There isn’t a single hint of intimacy among male and female leads as it doesn’t comply with the narrative. Even though Arthur is raised in a brothel, there aren’t any sequences that comprise any nudity or eroticism.
The movie may not have been a game changer in terms of box-office numbers, but it definitely acquires the status of a cult classic with outstanding performances by Aidden Gillen, Djimon Honsou, Annabelle Wallis and Tom Wu as well as its powerful content writing. Apart from adventure and chivalry the film concludes with a noble message: ‘Why make enemies when there can be friends?’ The climax of the movie leaves you spellbound not due to the historic glory of a legendary king but the philosophy of how to deal with failures, rejections and finally walking out as a winner. Guy Ritchie hits the masterstroke in the most ambitious film-project by justifying the narrative with his craftsmanship and creative VFX team. A must-watch for budding cinema laureates!
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