Director Joshua Logan
Starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero
Scott’s Review #1,370
Reviewed June 21, 2023
Camelot (1967) is an adaptation of the well-known Broadway spectacle that explores the creation of the Knights of the Roundtable. It’s medieval times and King Arthur is the main character.
Original stage stars Richard Burton and Julie Andrews declined participation which is unfortunate but their replacements played by Richard Burton and Vanessa Redgrave are more than adequate in the main roles.
At an epic length of nearly three hours, not every moment is the edge of your seat and some lagging exists but the film does justice to the stage production only with a big budget to add extravagance.
The setting and experience are pure magic and not only because of the far-removed time either. The Shakespearean elements are strong as royalty and entitlement mesh with scheming, jealousy, and dangerous romance.
This makes for some juicy soap opera drama.
After the arranged marriage of Arthur (Harris) and Guinevere (Redgrave), the king gathers the noble knights of the realm to his Round Table. The dashing Lancelot (Franco Nero) joins but soon finds himself in love with Guinevere.
When Arthur’s illegitimate and conniving son, Mordred (David Hemmings), reappears in the kingdom and exposes the secret lovers, Arthur finds himself trapped by his own rules into taking action against his wife and closest friend.
There are some dull moments to face at epic length, especially in the first half. I tuned out once or twice but then was whisked back to the dramatic events.
The great moments are truly great with enough punch to pack a wallop emotionally speaking.
During a sequence when Lancelot is challenged to a game of jousting with some knights events turn deadly and one knight, Sir Dinadan, is critically injured. Horrified Lancelot pleads for Sir Dinadan to live, and as he lays hands on him, Dinadan miraculously recovers.
The scene is fraught with emotion as a powerful moment occurs between the men. It’s also pivotal to the storyline because it links Lancelot with Guenevere and sets off a romantic chain of events.
Guenevere is so overwhelmed and humbled that her feelings for Lancelot begin to change. Despite his vows of celibacy, Lancelot falls in love with Guenevere.
More than one song is lovely in Camelot and as the course of the production went on I yearned for more musical numbers.
My favorites are the coy “The Lusty Month of May” appearing when Guinevere and the women frolic and gather flowers to celebrate the coming of spring. Later, Lancelot and Guenevere sing of their forbidden love and how wrong life has all gone in ‘I Loved You Once In Silence’.
The lovers in the eyes of the law are to be punished so they are aware they are not long for this world.
Visually, Camelot is a spectacle and rich with style and pizazz. Whimsical colors and a ton of vibrant and fragrant flowers appear regularly amid fields of greens and forests of trees.
The castles and battlefields also lend support to gothic structures and masculine power that perfectly balances the exquisiteness of other aspects.
This more than makes up for any drudgery the story might have. It’s nice to sit back and be fulfilled by the cinematic beauty. Especially keeping in mind the romance that is at the heart of the picture.
So when the story drags one can merely enjoy the visuals and escape for a moment.
Also impressive is the story of friendship and how two male friends can be torn apart over the affections of a woman.
Camelot (1967) is an epic of behemoth length and requires patience to sit through. Some parts flat-out drag. But the daring and compelling triangle between the three leads parlays the experience into an above-average thrill ride most of the time.
Oscar Nominations: 4 wins-Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (won), Best Costume Design (won), Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score (won), Best Sound