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The Mists of Avalon This three-hour miniseries adapts Marion Zimmer Bradley's feminist recasting of the Arthurian mythos into a big-budget cable television event. In ancient England, Christianity is spreading and the Saxons are invading. It's up to Viviane (Anjelica Huston) -- Lady of the Lake and high priestess of the kingdom's ancient pagan religion -- to make sure that the next king will honor both the old and new faiths and thereby banish the barbarian hordes. Viviane manipulates her sister Igraine (Caroline Goodall) into marrying King Uther Pendragon (Mark Lewis Jones) and bearing a son, Arthur (Edward Atterton) -- much to the consternation of Viviane's other sister, the power-hungry Morgause (Joan Allen). Arthur grows up happily with his older half-sister, Morgaine (Julianna Margulies), until Merlin (Michael Byrne) spirits him off for training and Viviane brings Morgaine to the mystical island of Avalon to develop her magical connection to the Goddess. Years later, the siblings reunite in a masked mating ritual, unaware that their union is incestuous -- or that their son, Mordred (Hans Matheson), will fall into Morgause's clutches and destroy the delicate balance that Viviane has sought to maintain. As Arthur gathers the knights of the round table and ushers in a golden age with Queen Gwenhwyfar (Samantha Mathis) at his side, the seeds of his destruction, and Avalon's, have already been planted -- by Arthur himself. Filmed on-location in Prague, The Mists of Avalon premiered on the TNT cable network July 15 and 16, 2001. Director Uli Edel, best known for his feature adaptation of Last Exit to Brooklyn, had previously helmed Purgatory for TNT. The titular mists -- developed by Edel and executive producer Mark Wolper -- utilized custom fluid dynamic software designed specifically for the project. Celtic musician Loreena McKennitt added her theme music to composer Lee Holdridge's score. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi
Majestically Striding Through the Mists of Avalon
Posted by: Galadrielle from: Southern California on
The Mists of Avalon follows Marion Zimmer Bradley's book very closely and faithfully. Bradley is not trying to be Sir Thomas Mallory, but rather, she tells the tale from a Wiccan perspective, with Morgaine, rather than Arthur, as the hero. I found this refreshing, and the quest for religious freedom is a very important theme in both the book and the movie. We are so used to seeing Morgaine as a villain, but here she is a cleric who seeks religious freedom and respect, not for herself, but for all people.
I was offended by the brief blasphemous scene at the beginning of the movie in which both a crucifix and a statue of the Wiccan Goddess are defaced by enemy raiders, but this troubling scene showed the importance of the world's need for religious tolerance and religious freedom.
Anjelica Houston shines as the stern no-nonsense Viviane, the Lady of the Lake. Here, Viviane is the "Voice of the Mother Goddess on Earth", apparently a Wiccan equivalent to the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury. She chides her sister Morgause (Joan Allen) with some very good advice: "No man or woman can live another's fate." There is an underlying gentleness beneath her iron hand, but everything she does has a strong purpose, and she shows great respect for the Christian priests and for the Christian religion. Her father Merlin (Michael Byrne) also gives some great wisdom by telling his young grandchildren Arthur and Morgaine "Sometimes what you want to do and what is right to do are different things."
Julianna Marguiles, who looks somewhat like Katharine Hepburn, is a very strong and powerful Morgaine. We see how Morgaine struggles with her destiny as a Priestess and her desires as a human, and rejoice with her as she rides about the countryside with her beloved husband Uriens (David Calder). After he dies, she continues to be faithfully loyal to her purpose in life.
Michael Vartan is the best Lancelot I have seen, as he is a fun-loving, but wise, prince who just so happens to be Vivienne's son - and Merlin's grandson! Rather than prancing about and brandishing his sword and trying to prove his love for Guenevere, he is genuinely sensitive, kind, and loyal - the way I imagine Lancelot in both Mallory's and Bradley's telling of the tale. Likewise, Samantha Matthis is a very graceful Guenevere.
The movie is clearly set in ancient, rather than medieval, England, and the costumes and sets show a ruggedness that we do not normally see in a King Arthur movie. I believe this enhances the story by making it probably the most believable Arthur story I have ever seen.
I found the entire movie thought-provoking, breathtaking, well-written, well-acted, and meticulously faithful to Bradley's book. It is utterly magnificent!
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Posted by: Wooky from: on
I bought it for my wife because she loves it, Best Buy had a good price. Very happy.
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
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