8:00 PM, 1st October, 2004
It's more likely than not that King Arthur never existed. I mean, really never existed, in the same way that Hercules and (sorry to have to break it to you) Robin Hood never existed. This is fine by me: it means the stories about Arthur are pure myths and legends, not corrupt histories.
If they are corrupt histories, they're very corrupt. Arthur would have been a national leader living in the 5th Century or some such, long before such mediaeval trappings as plate armour or knighthood. The Arthur we see here (Owen) is a Roman leader living in Britain just as Roman forces are leaving the island forever, someone who turns out to have more loyalty to his current home than to his birthplace. Merlin (Dillane) is not a wizard, but a rival military leader and ultimately an ally. Even Guinevere (Knightley) is a warrior, wearing a kind of leather armour that looks painful to me. There's a good deal more warfare in this movie than could possibly be included in a faithful telling of the 12th-Century legends - but Fuqua's idea was that there's an entirely different legend behind the ones we know.
10:20 PM, 1st October, 2004
An old geezer reads a fairytale to his sick grandson, assuring him that despite the fact that it is a fairytale, and there is kissing, the story is exciting stuff - no, really, it is, honest. The boy sighs, puts away his video game, and listens out of politeness. You can tell he's thinking: This had better be good.
And so are we. Is any story wonderful enough to overcome such an unpromising beginning? As it turns out, this one is. It involves, as promised, swordplay, adventure, jokes, sadness, royalty, villainy, giant rats - the complete list is too long to give here - not thrown together in an ill-considered jumble of hand-me-downs from other, better stories, but forged into something as perfect and pure as the blade of a sword. The boy and his grandfather, when they occasionally intrude, quickly become far less real than Westley's quest for his true love, and Inigo Montoya's quest for revenge on the six-fingered man. Some tunes sound, while you listen to them, like the tune; this story, while we're watching it unfold, seems like the story.