Skip to main content

Untitled Arthurian Film

There’s no evidence for an actual, historical King Arthur, but I tend to think the principle of ‘no smoke without fire’ suggests that at some point in the 4th or 5th or 6th Century AD there may have been a Romano-British general or Celtic warlord called Artos or Artorius or something, around whose name all sorts of stories gathered - some new, some simply re-branded - during the centuries that followed. I wonder what he would have thought, if he knew that he would become the principal character in so many Arthurian Films? Fame and renown tended to be quite a big deal with chaps like that, so I hope he’d have been pretty chuffed.

I’ve enjoyed writing about the films this autumn. A lot were quite bad, but most of them had something going for them, and some of the TV versions were a lot better than I’d expected. Nothing will ever dislodge Excalibur as my favourite, it may look camp and dated to you but I don’t care, I love every frame. But Perceval le Gallois comes a close second - a strange and wonderful film that I wouldn’t have watched if I hadn’t been doing these posts. 

The project isn’t over, but I’ve run through most of the big ones, and there’s no point doing snarky reviews of straight-to-video chaff, so from now on I’ll just add a new post when I see a good or unusual one. There are a few that I’ve had trouble finding: Lancelot du Lac, Knightriders, and the 4-part 1979 BBC series. Hopefully I’ll track them down in 2022.

Also, in the interests of keeping up the supply of Arthurian Films, I’ve decided to try and make one of my own. It will be super low budget (I can’t be bothered faffing about with funding applications), but I have such good locations available within a very short walk from my house that it seems rude not to make an Arthurian film. It will mostly be a film about these landscapes, but films about landscapes are always more fun if there’s dressing up involved, and a bit of a story.

I think my story will focus on women, because a) that will make a nice change and b) frocks are cheaper than armour. I reckon I can afford to costume and cater for about five (5) actors, and dress one (1) interior set, so I’m writing something with those limitations in mind. It’s a bit of a culture shock going from novels where literally anything I can imagine can happen to a screenplay where I have to think very hard about whether one (1) horse is going to be too much trouble and expense. Anyway, horse or no horse, I’m hoping to shoot Untitled Arthurian Film over a couple of weeks next autumn. If you’re interested in helping out, and live within reach of east Dartmoor, drop me a line in the comments below. I don’t think it will make you a star, but it might be fun.


Marya said…
I'd love to see a film of Here Lies Arthur. Has there been any interest?
philip reeve said…
Me too! The rights were optioned back when it was published, but nothing ever happened. It's beyond my means, unfortunately.
Marika Keen said…
This sounds WELL exciting – if you'd have any use for a completely untrained 21-year-old who loves theatre stuff, creating videos, writings things and making puppets (or indeed, making anything really) then do let me know!
(In all seriousness, I'd love to help out if there's anything I can do. I'm in Ashburton so am very near Dartmoor.)
Unknown said…
This sounds like an amazing project! I'm an illustration student and I'd love to get involved with anything creative if you're looking for that kind of input - you can see some examples of my work on Instagram here:
Alas, not in reach of Dartmoor (although I'm from Devon, Brixham), but if you need a remote sound designer (horse feet, sword/armour foley, mediaeval ambience and so on) then give me a shout! This sounds (pun most certainly intended) like a fantastic project and I wish you the best with it! I work in podcasts but it would be nice to branch into film work - currently based in London, my Twitter page is here:
philip reeve said…
Thanks Elliot! No idea what I'll need yet, but that sounds useful - I've followed you on Twitter and I'll drop you a line when I know what's what.
philip reeve said…
Thank you! Ashburton is perfect, you're just down the road from me and most of the locations I've been eyeing up. I'm a completely untrained 56-year-old so at least you have the advantage of youth. I'll get back to you in the spring once I have a screenplay sorted out and have a clearer idea of what we need.
philip reeve said…
Thank you, and thanks for the link. I'm not really looking for illustrators or storyboarders or anything, but I'll get in touch once the project has taken shape a bit and I have a clearer idea what I need...
Unknown said…
Excellent - happy to help out with anything at all! Marika (the commenter above) is my sister so I'm also (at least part time) based in Ashburton. Look forward to hearing more!
Marika Keen said…
Fantastic! Many thanks, looking forward to hearing more :)
Crow said…
How cool! Sounds fun. I don't live fantastically close in Somerset but it's the sort of project I'd have a ton of fun helping out on for free if you need extra hands or extra extra. I wish I had more direct skill besides enthusiasm, this is the sort of project I love seeing and working on. Give a shout and I'll take a train for a few days. I own a cloak!

-a m Blaushild

Popular posts from this blog

Excalibur at Forty

It's hard to believe forty years have passed since I watched Excalibur rise from the lake. It was Sunday, July 5th, 1981, around 2.45 in the afternoon, and I was in the ABC Cinema in Brighton. I remember it as if it were yesterday. In paintings and illustrations Excalibur often emerges from the lake at an angle. Sometimes it's in a scabbard and the Lady of the Lake grasps it by the middle; you can imagine her waggling it about to get Arthur's attention. But in Excalibur it rushes straight up, the misty water parting with a ripple around the eerily green-lit blade until at last the hilt breaks the surface, scattering slow-motion droplets like seed pearls.It's like watching the launch of an Apollo rocket. From the trees at the water's edge, mission controller Merlin looks on in awe. What he's probably wondering is, what happens next? Does he have a little boat moored among the roots to get him out to the middle of the mere where the sword is waiting for him? Or

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

One of the reasons the Arthurian Legends appeal so much to writers and film makers is that there is no single original version. If there ever was, it was a tale told by some Romano-British storyteller, sitting by a fire in a damp hall, perhaps expounding on the great deeds of a local ruler or late Roman general, and spicing up the action with some motifs borrowed from old Celtic myths. In the centuries that followed, the story grew, and changed. Lots of legends about other heroes got tacked on to it. French and German poets got hold of it and added Camelot, the Grail, and Courtly Love: Malory borrowed from them all in his Morte D’Arthur . Later, everyone from Tennyson to TH White to Rick Wakeman to little me retold the stories, altering them to fit our own vision and reflect our own times. So you can do whatever you like with King Arthur: everyone else has. At least, that’s the theory. Now here's Guy Ritchie’s 2017 box office catastrophe King Arthur, Legend of the Sword to destru

Railhead A-Z

In order to save my website it became necessary to destroy it. Before I pulled the plug I rescued the longest post on my old blog. Here it is, like the lone survivor of a shipwreck: my A-Z guide to the ideas behind my novel Railhead. At the time it was written, Railhead had just been published. I'll be putting up some posts about the sequels, Black Light Express and Station Zero , in the coming days. Railhead cover art by Ian McQue A  is for Alternative Forms of Transport ‘What I need,’ I thought, when I’d been struggling on and off for a few years with my space epic (working title, ‘Space Epic’) ‘is an alternative to spaceships…’ I’ve always enjoyed space stories. I first started reading science fiction back in 1977, when the original Star Wars film made me realise that outer space could be just as good a backdrop for fantasy as Tolkien-esque worlds of myth and legend. (Actually, I didn’t see Star Wars until 1978, but its bow-wave of publicity hit these shores the p