My viewing of the first episode of new series Camelot was rather spoiled by lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail popping into my head at inopportune times. Still, that’s the hazard with a tale such as this: there have been so many retellings of the ancient story that it’s impossible to watch a new series without the “baggage” of its predecessors. On the other hand, it’s as good a time as any to remind ourselves of some of the better King Arthur adaptations.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Python crew’s finest (two) hour(s).
Originally screened as a four-part miniseries, this is my favourite of all the “Arthur” stories, thanks to some fantastic performances from the likes of Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson and Helena Bonham Carter.
One of the most memorable, if somewhat overwrought, versions of the story. This one stars Nigel Terry and Helen Mirren.
Disney’s The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Far from the best Disney film, but still a memorable part of many childhoods.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Not the story of King Arthur, but definitely rooted in Arthurian myth.
and the ones we’d rather avoid:
King Arthur (2004)
Not a terrible film, but just rather muddled and forgettable.
First Knight (1995)
Pure Hollywood cheese.
And this is the new series, of which the most notable cast-members are Joseph Fiennes and (Bond girl) Eva Green. Time will tell if it turns out to be one of the better retellings. It’s watchable so far, but with such an oft-dramatized story, it has a lot to live up to if it wants to outshine its predecessors.