For those of you who have been following my blog lately, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a little obsessed with Merlin, Guinevere and all things Arthurian. Seen the TV shows, read some books and even watched a few movies. What I haven’t done (at least until last week) was ever seen the play or movie Camelot.
Shocking, I know. A musical based on the life of King Arthur should have been tailor-made for me, but somehow I’ve managed to go 40 years and never have seen it. Here’s something even more shocking: I didn’t like it!
Maybe I picked the wrong version. I rented the 1968 movie starring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. I’m pretty sure that was the classic version, but maybe I’m wrong. For one thing, Lancelot was not played by Robert Goulet. I thought by legal decree Lancelot had to be played by Robert Goulet. It was a little bit like watching the King and I starring Hal Linden. Hal Linden is an excellent actor and probably a very nice man, but he’s no Yul Brynner.
Regardless… whether it was the wrong version or not, I’m sure the story is pretty consistent. Let’s review: Arthur is King of Camelot. He is good and kind beyond all measure. He creates a round table for his knights so that no one person is ever at the head and considered more important than the rest. He wants to use his strength and power for a good and righteous purpose. So, what happens to our beloved King Arthur? His wife cheats on him with his best friend.
Yup. As far as I can tell, that’s pretty much the golden, glorious story of Camelot. The king tries to ignore it, and even tries to cover up when others catch on to the affair because he knows both his wife and his friend will be charged with and executed for treason. All through the movie, Guinevere and Lancelot are running around making moon eyes at each other, and I can’t help but think, “Get over yourselves, you cheating cheaters who cheat…”
That said, there are certainly a few reasons to watch this movie anyway. The casts and costumes are gorgeous – Richard Harris is dashing and Vanessa Redgrave has never been more stunning. Also, Camelot is still very culturally relevant. In everyday conversation you will hear the term, “holy grail” and every Kennedy scholar knows the phrase “one brief shining moment” . Finally, even if the story – in my opinion, anyway – is annoying, the music is amazing as you can hear from the selection below.
Oh, and I chose a version with Robert Goulet. 🙂