Troubled, Bemused and Entertained
A troubled King Arthur (Richard Harris) finds himself reminiscing back to when he first met Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave) and wooed her leading to their marriage. It is together they set about creating a round table of knights all of whom are equal which is how the French knight Sir Lancelot (Franco Nero) arrives at Camelot and in to their lives. Initially antagonistic towards Lancelot Guenevere and the French Knight end up becoming lovers which causes considerable problems for King Arthur when his rival Mordred (David Hemmings) insists that Guenevere's actions are treason and as such she must be executed causing Arthur to become troubled.
I am actually lost for words as I absolutely love this 1967 version of "Camelot" but it is as much for what is wrong as it is for what is right and let me just say that right from the word go it bemused me. So let me start on what is right about "Camelot" and the musical numbers, as in the music and lyrics are nice and bubbly, bouncing you along whilst giving a sense of scale with that chorus aspect which is exactly what you want from a musical. Combine the musical side with the sets, costumes and locations and "Camelot" is a gloriously, captivating musical with pretty much everything right to make this a classic.
Then there is the storyline and "Camelot" is the sort of musical I like because those musical scenes are all part of telling the story, moving things on and expanding on it. As such even for those who have never stumbled across the story of Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot will be able to understand what is going on and follow it quite easily. Although I do wonder if those unaware of the story will find the 179 minute running length a little excessive as it certainly is never in a hurry to tell the story and frequently elaborates on a single story element to make it more significant such as when Arthur in his solitude deals with the fact that Guenevere and Lancelot are lovers.
But then there is the casting and right up front I will say that the trio of Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero would not be at the top of my list to be leading a musical. Yet in a strange way being wrong actually adds to the movie's enjoyment with Richard Harris being particularly entertaining because with the eye make-up and wig he looks a little wrong and his singing is also a little wrong yet it is entertaining. It is also how Harris, Redgrave and Nero interact because there is something a little knock-about about it, as if they were having some fun making this rather than trying too be serious with it. In fairness to Redgrave she looks great and can certainly sing, it's just when I hear the name Vanessa Redgrave I don't think musical.
What this all boils down to is that "Camelot" is this wonderful mixture of great, good and wrong which ends up being entertaining no matter what. Maybe the original stage play was superior as many who saw it claim but this version of "Camelot" despite being 179 minutes is fun and is certainly unforgettable.
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