All the elements of Sir Thomas Malory's classic Le Morte Darthur are here: Arthur removing the sword Excalibur from the stone; the Round Table's noble birth and tragic decline; the heroic attempts to recover the Holy Grail; and the shifting balance of power between wily wizard Merlin and evil sorceress Morgana.
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- " Give Boorman credit for the loopy grandeur of his imagery and imaginings, for the sweet smell of excess, for his heroic gamble that a movie can dare to trip over its pretensions – and still fly. " – Richard Corliss
- " There is humor here (in the form of a vaudeville Merlin, played by Nicol Williamson) as well as a diminution of scale that seems intended to help audiences through the thornier byways of Boorman's vision. " – Dave Kehr
- " Exquisite, a near-perfect blend of action, romance, fantasy and philosophy, finely acted and beautifully filmed by director John Boorman and cinematographer Alex Thomson. " – Variety Staff