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Arthur, known as Artorius from his name Artorius Castus (Clive Owen), is portrayed as a Roman
cavalry officer and commander, the son of a Roman father and a Celtic mother, who leads a military
force of Sarmatian cavalry in Britain at the close of the Roman occupation in 467 A.D. He and his
men guard Hadrian's Wall against the "Woads", a Celtic people who resist Roman rule, roughly based
on the historical Picts, led by their mysterious leader Merlin. He is not the first Arthur - over
the years, many of his ancestors have manned the Wall, leading Sarmatian auxiliaries. As the film
starts, Arthur and his remaining men Lancelot, Bors, Tristan, Gawain, Galahad and Dagonet - are
expecting discharge from the service of the Empire after faithfully serving for 15 years (Lancelot's
entry into service as a youth in 452 A.D. is depicted at the very beginning of the film). However,
they are dispatched on a final and possibly suicidal mission by Bishop Germanius of Auxerre in the
freezing winter to rescue an important Roman family, which includes a pupil of the Pope, from
impending capture by the invading Saxons, who are led by their chief Cerdic and his son Cynric.
The knights are charged with this rescue because Rome is retiring from Britain, now considered an
indefensible outpost. In the course of this mission, Arthur encounters and rescues a Woadish princess,
Guinevere (Keira Knightley), from the imprisonment and torture by the Roman citizen he is charged with
rescuing. Guinevere reveals that she is the daughter of Merlin, and Arthur himself is revealed to be
half Celt (on his his mother's) side. His famous sword, Excalibur, is also shown to be his father's,
which he drew from the tombstone on Pendragon's burial mound as a boy (inspiring the legend of the
Sword in the Stone) in an effort to rescue his mother who died during an attack. The Roman family is
rescued and the knights fight with the Saxons on a frozen lake before they can make it back to the Wall.
Dagonet breaks the ice with his axe and succeeds in killing half of the army, but is killed by arrows.
Struck by Rome leaving its subjects to the mercy of the Saxons, Arthur is further disillusioned when
he learns that Bishop Pelagius, whose teachings about the equality of all men inspired the brotherhood
of his Round Table — has been executed as a heretic by order of Bishop Germanius himself. In due course,
Arthur and his remaining men forsake Roman citizenship and form an alliance with the Woads to fight the
invading Saxons. In the climactic battle, the Battle of Badon Hill, the Saxons are defeated and Cerdic
and his son are killed — at the cost of many lives, including Lancelot's and Tristan's. The film ends
with Arthur and Guinevere's marriage. Merlin then proclaims him to be their king. King Arthur and his
remaining knights promise to lead the Britons, now united after Roman leave, against future invaders.
Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Til Schweiger, |
Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgård
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Producer: David Franzoni
Year Released - July 2004
Length - 126 minutes
Music Composer: Hans Zimmer
Movie Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
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