Released in 1995
Starring Richard Gere, Julia Ormond and Sean Connery
Directed by Jerry Zucker
“This is the heart of Camelot, not these stones, not these timbers, these palaces and towers. Burn them all and Camelot lives on, because it lives in us. Camelot is a belief that we hold in our hearts.” ~ King Arthur
This retelling of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table focuses on three characters: Sir Lancelot (Richard Gere), Guinivere (Julia Ormond) and King Arthur (Sean Connery). The movie opens with Guinivere deciding to marry the older King Arthur, but the evil knight Malagant (Ben Cross) tries to kidnap her en-route. She is saved by Lancelot, a wandering swordsman, who takes her to Camelot. The film mainly deals with the love-triangle that develops between these three characters, with the secondary story being the war between Arthur and Malagant.
The film is notable for its lack of magic or fantasy – no mention is made of Merlin the Magician. It earned mixed reviews, especially for the performance of Lancelot by Gere, but earned over $127 million at the box-office.
In terms of historical accuracy, or even accuracy in portraying the Arthurian legend, it would be best to say that anything actually medieval-related was only included by accident.
Review by James Berardinelli – “Bad acting, dumb dialogue, and confusing cinematography abound, creating one of the most shoddy Camelot stories to date.”
Review from the New York Times – “First Knight is distinguished from other, better retellings of the Arthurian legend by its conviction that Camelot was ruled by someone much more powerful than a mere king: a decorator.”
Review from DVD Verdict – “The performances carry this movie. Julia Ormond, in particular, does a wonderful job as Guinevere.”