Wildhunt Review: King Arthur

I’m not sure which tack to take with this movie, on a certain level it’s just another summer film meant to be enjoyed and not thought on too seriously, and taken that way I enjoyed it quite a bit. Lots of flash and action, lots of heroism and noble intention backed with the now ubiqutous siren-call-moaning.

But since this feature aims to give us the “real” King Arthur I feel almost obligated to be a bit critical in my viewing. Plus how can I not give a pagan perspective when Christianity Today gives it a somewhat positive nod and talks about how the “religious life of each of these groups is an important part of their identity”.

First off, the only Christians in this movie are Arthur (a follower of the teachings of Pelagius), a corrupt Roman noble and his household and the Bishop Germanius. The rest of the cast from King Arthurs Sarmatian knights to the native British “woads” Merlin and Guinevere are portrayed as pagan. Not that you would know it, aside from the fact that Bishop Germanius names Arthur’s knights as such. There isn’t a single portrayal of pagan faith or religion in the movie.

Merlin, usually the token pagan survival in these tales is now the leader of a woad-painted native British resistance movement. A movement that apparantly can’t build huts since we only see them camping in the woods (in the rain).

The good things about this movie are the little things. Ray Winstone is very charming as the crude and funny Bors, and Ray Stevenson as Dagonet brings pathos and feeling that anchors the first half of the movie.The walling up (twice) of some corrupt priests provides a few dark yucks and the Battle scenes are inventive and entertaining (which is good since most of the movie is comprised of battle scenes).

I doubt much of this movie reveals the “true” King Arthur in any real sense. Any theory is going to rely on a lot of guess-work and filling in of the huge holes of missing information. Was he the Roman leader of Sarmatian Knights? Was he a Celtic war-lord? Was he a Christian King or a pagan one? At this point I doubt these questions will ever be reliably answered. But the movie was a nice way to waste a couple hours in the summer.

Jason Pitzl-Waters