This past weekend, I discovered that John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) was available to stream on Tubi. In case you didn’t know, Tubi is a free streaming service with commercials, and it’s often useful for watching movies showing on pay services to which I don’t subscribe. I took advantage of a rare day of not working out and re-watched it.
To me, Excalibur is a classic, and it has a moderately funny story behind it (for me). My dad was always present but never paying attention. He left our upbringing to our mother, taking interest only when our interests collided with his. So, if you weren’t playing tennis, playing chess, or visiting the Renaissance Festival, you were a nuisance. He wasn’t cruel; just uninterested. When Excalibur came out, both he and I were interested in seeing it. I was a mythology buff, and he a history buff, and the movie appealed to both of us. Well, I was 13, and when my mother found out how much nudity was in it, she blew a gasket. Of course, my dad was pissed off at me because I was the one that told her.
That was a fun day.
Nudity aside, I loved the movie. I was familiar with the basics of Authurian legends and wanted more. The next time I saw the movie was in high school, which were the days of VHS movie rentals. My cousin and I rented it, and my view had changed. I found the base storyline just as interesting but the delivery goofy at times. Also, being a high school kid, I was a bit put off by seeing Sir Lancelot’s nut sack. This weekend was the third time I had seen it, and it was fantastic, errrr … nut sack and all.
It’s a quick telling of the Arthurian legends, taking some liberties with the story in the interests of getting the story told in less than 8 hours. What’s not to love about that? I’m sure many readers agree, so I’m not going to dwell on any of that. Instead, I’m going to point out something I found interesting and unusual.
The soundtrack is, as one would expect, filled with grandiose, classical music pieces. However, what’s interesting about it is that the music never played (to my recollection) during the battle scenes. All you heard was the sound of battle, and that produced a chilling effect. Because I’m a nerd, I’m reminded of an observation Lt. Cmdr. Data made about alien poetry that often included pauses that could last for days. That seems ridiculous, but pauses do have value. They’re analogous to negative space used in graphic arts, such as the arrow in the FedEx logo between the ‘e’ and ‘x,’ and this effect was used very well by John Boorman here.
As always, YMMV, though how could you not like Excalibur?