Lancelot of the Lake

1974 [FRENCH]

Drama / Fantasy / Romance

IMDb Rating 7 10 3660

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November 17, 2021 at 11:33 AM



775.34 MB
fre 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 24 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 4 / 10

very slow and static

I noticed by the other reviews that there are other Monty Python and the Holy Grail fans out there. That's because in the first minutes of the movie, there are three fights that look VERY VERY reminiscent of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python. Considering that Monty Python came out one year later, I wonder if maybe they were inspired by the these incredibly stupid scenes from Lancelot of the Lake. In this opening montage, one obviously fake guy gets his head sliced off--complete with Monty Python-style blood. Then, one guy is stabbed (but it's obvious that the blood is not coming from the wound but pouring out of the trick sword). And finally, a guy has his head smashed in--complete with GALLONS of fake blood. These silly scenes already had me hating the film. In Monty Python, it was comedy and meant to be way over-the-top, but Bresson's film is meant to be a drama and the scenes are just shabby and inappropriate.

But, then the movie shifts from lots of action to STATIC scenes where they talked and talked and talked and I became completely bored. Along the way, I noticed that the print on the DVD was very poor--all washed out and cheap looking. Considering this is the DVD, I doubt there is a better version available. But considering how uninspired and dull this is, I really wouldn't bother looking for a different print.

Reviewed by gavin6942 9 / 10

The Essential King Arthur Film

Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving and greedy men who, just before the film starts, have failed miserably to find the Holy Grail. Aimlessly resentful at first, the developing relationship between Lancelot and Queen Guinevere focuses their rage, leading to inevitable tragedy.

In common with Bresson's later films, the cast was composed of amateur actors, several of whom did not appear in any other film. Bresson's direction demanded a purposeful lack of emotion in the acting style, and reduced or eliminated the fantastical elements of the Grail legend. This unglamorous depiction of the Middle Ages emphasizes blood and grime over fantasy. This is what really sells it; by taking place after the Grail quest, we are left with no magic or anything fantastic... and this allows the film to begin with some amusing battle scenes.

Interestingly, it was Michael Haneke's second-place choice in the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films ever made. His number one was also a Bresson film. No one else has ever before or since rated the film so highly, but I think Haneke is on the right track. "Lancelot" needs to be honored as much as "Pickpocket" and the other Bresson greats.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 7 / 10

the polar opposite of "Excalibur" (1981)

In Robert Bresson's short filmography, "Lancelot Du Lac" is probably his most dismissed piece of work for evident reasons. The author of such pearls like "Journal d'Un Curé De Campagne" (1951) and "au Hasard Balthazar" (1966) chose to adapt his minimal, inimitable style to the fabled tale of the Knights of the Round Table with Lancelot's adulterous love for the Queen Guenièvre. Was it an appropriated choice for a topic whose treatment inevitably required greatness, heroism, violence pertaining to a chivalrous tale?

Well, viewers who aren't familiar with Bresson's genuine cinematographic approach won't approve of it with a basically epic story and the filmmaker seemed aware of it given his cinema is everything but spectacular. But the auteur pushed his ideas to the extreme. So, we have here an austere view of a story usually full of greatness with very little action. The film opens and ends after a fight with bodies falling down, horses running and a desolate battle ground in the heart of a deep green forest. In the middle of the film, the audience will be allowed to watch a tournament which Bresson will reduce to its simplest elements with flags waving, Gauvain and Arthur's looks, shots on some of the horsemen's characteristics like their horses' legs or their armors. Once again as in many Bresson's works, ellipses are given priority. When the two adversaries collide, one can't properly see the action but just the before and after.

Between these rare, fragmented action sequences, the rest is devoted to an aging Lancelot and his relationships with Queen Guenièvre, King Arthur, Gauvain and the other knights. Proud characters have given way to weary ones. The Quest for the Holy Grail was lost and Lancelot attributes this defeat to the guilty love he has for Guenièvre. And he is torn between this serious mistake and the chivalrous demeanor he should adopt for Arthur. Gauvain is stuck in a similar situation between his respect for Lancelot and Arthur with whom he wants to remain faithful. Like in other Bresson works, redemption has a sizable role. Towards the end of the film, Lancelot wants to redeem himself by fighting with Arthur against Mordred. Animals also seem to play a small but vital role. A magpie is often on the branch of a tree facing the Queen's bedroom.

It's no wonder this dry overhaul of the Knights of the Round Table baffled many viewers, especially the ones who have never heard of Bresson. Lines full of bitterness, regret or suspicion are recited by models with a monotonous voice and a stone-cold acting lead a film mostly deprived of action and violence. That's why I would only recommend it to Bresson's die-hard aficionados and not for newcomers who will be better served with John Boorman's "Excalibur" (1981).

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