Today is the 87th birthday of director John Boorman.
A former journalist and documentarian, Boorman got his start as a feature film director in 1965 when he was offered the chance to direct Catch Us If You Can, an enjoyable take on A Hard Day’s Night that starred the Dave Clark Five. Boorman went on to establish himself as one of the most idiosyncratic and unique directors working in the British film industry. Among the films that Boorman would direct: Zardoz, Deliverance, Point Blank, The General, Hope and Glory, and The Emerald Forest. Among the films that Boorman was offered but turned down: The Exorcist, Fatal Attraction, Rocky, and Sharky’s Machine. Few directors can claim a filmography as varied and unique as John Boorman’s.
During the 70s, Boorman made an unsuccessful attempt to put together a film version of Lord of the Rings. Boorman intended to tell the entire story in just one film but he couldn’t find financial backing for his epic vision. So, instead, Boorman directed Excalibur, an film about King Arthur which, thematically, has as much in common with Tolkein as it does with Malory.
Starring Nigel Terry, Nicol Williamson, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, and Liam Neeson, Excalibur is my personal favorite of the many cinematic adaptations of the Arthurian legend. (I like it even more than Monty Python and the Holy Grail, though it’s a close race.) In the scene below, Arthur (Nigel Terry) first removes Excalibur from the stone. By removing the sword, Arthur confirms that it his destiny to bring “the Land,” (as Britain is referred to as being in Excalibur) together. Not everyone is convinced but Leondegrance knows a king when he sees on. (That’s not surprising, considering that he’s played by Patrick Stewart.)