Camelot (film)

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Camelot
Camelot (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Bob Peak
Directed by Joshua Logan
Produced by Jack L. Warner
Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner
Based on
Starring
Music by Frederick Loewe
Cinematography Richard H. Kline
Editing by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release dates
  • October 25, 1967 (1967-10-25)
Running time 179 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million
Box office $31,102,578[1]
$14,000,000 (rentals)

Camelot is a 1967 film adaptation of the musical of the same name. Richard Harris stars as Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere, and Franco Nero as Lancelot. The film was directed by Joshua Logan.

Plot[edit]

Unlike the original stage version, the main plot of the film is presented as a long flashback. In the opening scene, King Arthur (Richard Harris) is preparing for a great battle against his friend, Sir Lancelot (Franco Nero), a battle he does not wish to fight but has been forced into. Arthur reflects on the sad circumstances which have led him to this situation, and asks his childhood mentor, Merlin, for advice. Merlin appears to him and tells Arthur to think back. It is now that the main plot begins.[2]

Arthur thinks back to the night of his marriage to his now estranged wife, Guinevere. It is an arranged marriage, and he has never met her before. He is understandably afraid of what lies ahead ("I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight"). His solitude is broken by Guinevere and her entourage. Guinevere is also worried about marrying a man she has never met, and longs for an easier life ("The Simple Joys of Maidenhood"). Like Arthur, she flees from her entourage to reflect on her future. Arthur (overhearing Guinevere and realizing who she is) accidentally falls out of the tree in which he is hiding. He and Guinevere converse, as she does not know his true identity, and realize they have things in common. Arthur tells her what a wonderful place his kingdom is ("Camelot") and they almost kiss, but are interrupted by men sent to find Arthur. The king's identity is revealed, and although Arthur gives Guinevere the chance to leave she gladly goes back with him to be married.

The plot shifts to five years later. Arthur confides to Guinevere his idea for a "Round Table" that would seat all the noble knights of the realm, reflecting not only a crude type of democratic ideal, but also the political unification of England. Knights are shown gathering from all over England. The plot shifts another five years, and word of Arthur's Round Table spreads to France. Inspired by Arthur’s ideas, the self-righteous French knight Lancelot makes his way to England with his squire Dep, boasting of his superior virtues ("C'est Moi"). Lancelot's prowess impresses Arthur and they become friends, but many of the knights despise him for his self-righteousness.

Guinevere also dislikes Lancelot at first, and incites three of the best knights - Sir Lionel, Sir Sagramore and Sir Dinadan - to challenge him to a joust ("Then You May Take Me To The Fair"). However, the plan goes awry as Lancelot easily defeats all three, almost killing Sir Dinadan (Sir Lionel in the stage version). A horrified Lancelot pleads for Sir Dinadan to live, and as he lays hands on him, Dinadan miraculously recovers. Guinevere is so impressed that her feelings for Lancelot begin to change. Soon afterwards, it is revealed that, despite his vows of celibacy, Lancelot is in love with Guinevere, leading to the famous love triangle involving Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. Guinevere knows it is wrong and tries to get Lancelot out of her life, but he refuses to leave ("If Ever I Would Leave You"). Arthur realizes something is going on between Lancelot and Guinevere but cannot bring himself to alienate either of them, and so turns a blind eye. Mordred (David Hemmings), Arthur's illegitimate son from an affair with Morgause (Arthur's unknown half-sister in some versions of the legend), arrives at Camelot, bitter at Arthur's refusal to recognize him and determined to bring down the fellowship of the Round Table by stirring up trouble. All this takes its toll on Arthur's disposition, and Guinevere tries, but fails, to cheer him up ("What Do The Simple Folk Do?").

Mordred cunningly convinces Arthur to stay out hunting all night as a test, knowing Lancelot will visit Guinevere in her bedchamber. Everything happens as Mordred expected. Guinevere admits her feelings for Lancelot but still feels guilty ("I Loved You Once In Silence"). Mordred rouses several knights and they catch the lovers together, as he planned. Lancelot escapes but Guinevere is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Arthur, who has promoted the rule of law throughout the story, is now bound by his own law—he can make no special exceptions for his own wife. Preparations are made for Guinevere's burning ("Guinevere"), but Lancelot rescues her at the last minute, much to Arthur's relief.

In the film’s final scene, we return to the opening. Arthur is preparing for battle against Lancelot, at the insistence of his knights who want revenge, and England appears headed into the Dark Ages. He suddenly receives a surprise visit from Lancelot and Guinevere, who has become a nun. Arthur and Guinevere share an emotional farewell. The battle must continue, however. Prior to the battle, Arthur stumbles across a young boy named Tom, who wishes to become a Knight of the Round Table. Arthur is skeptical at first, but Tom espouses his commitment to Arthur's original ideal of "Not might makes right, but might for right." Arthur realizes that, although most of his plans have fallen through, the ideals of Camelot still live on in this simple boy. Arthur knights Tom and gives him his orders—run behind the lines and survive the battle, so he can tell future generations about the legend of Camelot. Watching Tom leave, Arthur regains his hope for the future, ("Camelot (reprise)").

Differences between stage and screen versions[edit]

Several songs were omitted from the film version - "The Jousts", a choral episode in which the jousts, which occur offstage in the play, are described (in the film they are shown), "Before I Gaze At You Again", sung by Guinevere to an offstage Lancelot, "The Seven Deadly Virtues", sung by Mordred, "Persuasion", sung in a scene not in the film, in which Mordred persuades Morgan Le Fay, who is omitted from the film's screenplay, to conjure up an enchantment to keep Arthur in the forest so that Guenevere and Lancelot's affair can be exposed, and "Fie On Goodness!", sung by the knights, in which they bemoan the fact that they are no longer allowed to administer punishment no matter how inappropriate, but according to the law. (Actually, some of these songs were cut during the original Broadway run of "Camelot", because they made the play too long. However, they were restored for the London production starring Laurence Harvey and Elizabeth Larner.)

The lyrics of the song "Follow Me", which was sung in the play by the water nymph Nimue to entice Merlin to her cave, were completely rewritten and the song was sung by an offscreen chorus in a new scene written for the film. Nimue does not appear in the film.

Cast[edit]

Releases[edit]

While the official running time was 179 minutes plus overture, entrance and exit music, only the 70mm blow up prints and 35mm magnetic stereo prints contained that running time. The general release version ran 150 minutes. Cuts were made in dialogue throughout the film and a number of songs including "C'est Moi" and "What do the Simple Folk Do" were removed. Omitted scenes include Arthur explaining what he means when he says that Merlin lives backwards, and the entire flashback of Arthur in the forest recalling Merlin's schoolhouse.[citation needed]

Television broadcasts and home video versions contain the complete, uncut copy of the movie. The shorter general release version has not been seen since the film's 1973 re-release.

The film earned North American rentals of $6.6 million in its 1968 run and $1.7 million on its 1973 re-release.[3][4]

Awards[edit]

The film, nominated for five Academy Awards, won three [5] for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (John Truscott, Edward Carrere, John W. Brown), Best Costume Design (John Truscott), and Best Music-Scoring of Music (Adaptation or Treatment) (Alfred Newman, Ken Darby). It was also nominated for Best Cinematography (Richard Kline) and Best Sound.[6] It also won three Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for an additional three.[7]

The film is also notable as the only instance in which a song written for a Broadway show won a Golden Globe award. The category it won in, "'Best Original Song Written for a Motion Picture," is reserved only for songs explicitly written for films, not stage musicals, but in this instance, an exception was made, and the song "If Ever I Would Leave You" (mislabeled "If Ever I Should Leave You" on the award) won the Golden Globe that year. Whether this was an accidental oversight on the part of the Foreign Press Association, or a deliberate attempt to circumvent the rules, is unknown, but it had never happened before, and has not happened since. In addition, Frederick Loewe was nominated for a Golden Globe for "Best Original Score," although the score was written for the Broadway stage, and not for film.

Richard Harris won the 1968 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Camelot, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ "'Camelot' Quotes" IMDb, accessed August 23, 2011
  3. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  4. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
  5. ^ "NY Times: Camelot Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  6. ^ "The 40th Academy Awards (1968) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  7. ^ "'Camelot' Awards" IMDb, accessed August 23, 2011
  8. ^ "Richard Harris awards" IMDb, accessed August 23, 2011

External links[edit]