July / Aug 2015
The Middle Ages
IN THIS ISSUE:
Tristan & Isolde Page 2
Kingdom of Heaven Page 6
Joan of Arc Page 8
Ivanhoe Page 12
A Knight’s Tale Page 16
King Arthur Page 20
Robin Hood Page 24
Princess Bride Page 26
Coming Soon: Magical Realism (Sept / Oct 2015)
Villainesses (Halloween 2015)
The Renaissance (Nov / Dec 2015) Please turn to the back cover to learn how you can contribute.
© Charity’s Place. No copyright infringement intended. All written content is original and may not be reproduced without written consent. Disclaimer: the opinions of the individual writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Charity’s Place or Femnista; the stories and entertainment mentioned is not always appropriate viewing for all ages.
Mythological romanticism is woven throughout the tales, legends, and songs of the middle ages, from courtly knights and fair maidens to love spells and other magical enchantments intended to remove free will. These themes carried on into later years, and heavily influenced the thinking of the reigning monarchs. King Henry VIII continued to show an obsession for the themes of courtly love and romanticism, for Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and the idea of rescuing fair maidens in the tower, up until the 1500s. It was not uncommon for kings of the middle ages and later periods to adopt these legends as their own, in an attempt to connect to the mythology of the past. Two stories in particular capture the gritty romanticism of the period and reveal the overall mindset of the middle ages: King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot, which has a love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, and Tristan and Isolde, a similar tale about a potion that causes two souls to fall in love with one another, despite her intended marriage to King Mark. Though the interpretations of the myth vary, they all follow the same basic plot: after defeating an Irish knight, Tristan goes to Ireland to bring back Isolde for his uncle King Mark to marry. Along the way, the two ingest a love potion that causes them to fall in love. Here is
where the interpretations diverge: either their love is for life or it wanes after several years; both innocently drink the potion or Isolde gives it to him. Both lose their free will and have no choice but to become lovers, thus freeing them from the responsibility of their destructive actions, which either leads to war, their deaths, their suicide, their banishment, or Tristan being forced to leave. No matter the means or the ending, the theme of forbidden love beyond either of their control remains the same. The affair has consequences but is still heavily romanticized and often seen as a “tragic” love story. History can often be understood through its emphasis on mythology and the themes of its literature, and the middle ages is no exception. It was a period in which Roman Catholicism was rampant, but also heavily diluted with paganism. Rather than liberate the pagans of their goddesses and legends, the Church adopted many of the feast days and beliefs, leading to a period known as the “dark ages” for its evil superstitions and ignorance. Themes of adultery, lust, chivalry, knights, and so on reveal a struggle 3
between what the common folk of the period wanted to admire (goodness, nobility, heroism, sacrifice, and courtly love) and its awareness of reality and the grit of life in its heavily flawed legendary characters. Many of these stories are sanitized for modern audiences, since we do not tend to look kindly on “magical rape,” incest, etc, but the magical elements, honor, and romanticism linger. One heavy theme in the middle ages revolved around honor. That Lancelot would betray King Arthur with his wife violated that honor, and was seen as shocking—Tristan, too, would not be able to live with his honor in being with Isolde, if he had a choice over the matter, so that choice is removed from him. He loses his free will and thus the affair becomes tragic, instead of treacherous. The punishment for it is harsh, with no leniency toward the betrayal.
Charity Bishop is an editor. Her free time is spent writing novels & movie reviews, blogging, and typing fictional characters on tumblr. She is known as an allaround contrarian who is only serious about her faith. 4
This, I think, largely reveals the period’s understanding of evil and good, but also reveals the cruelty of the times. It is both a rigid moralistic view (that evil actions must be punished, even if those involved have no authority over their actions) and one reflective of the pagan and middle ages view of God. When we cast our thoughts back on this time in history, we are reminded of… knights, crusades, dark magic, witch burnings, the plague, and the Catholic Church. The latter had a heavy influence
among the common folk; it was a dark, ruthless moralizing power that constantly reinforced the themes of hell and damnation. If you had not the Church, you had not salvation; you would burn in the flames of hell, lorded over by a goat-headed red demon identified as Satan. In a sense, then, morality was enforced not through love and devotion to God, but out of terror. Human nature is by its very nature rebellious; our inclination is not to strive for purity and goodness, but to see how close we can come to sin without sinning. Our innermost desire is not for holiness, but for sin… so we consider tales that both teach moral lessons (thus justifying our enjoyment) and make sin… not sin. And, I think this has a great deal to do with both the popularity of Tristan & Isolde, and other such stories of adultery. You see, if they have no choice but to conduct a love affair, if they are not cogent of their actions, then their actions are less sinful in our eyes. If it is true that neither can choose to resist the potion, then Lord Mark becomes the villain in their story for punishing them for something they cannot help! … and thus, we find the middle ages view of God. Bereft of the scriptures, and any teachings about Christ not heavily filtered through local priests (who may or may not have studied, who may or may
not have been godly, and who may or may not have had a personal agenda), the view of God to the common man (and the nobles) of the middle ages was a tyrant ready to cast them into hell for the sin of being human… for things they could not help. In drinking the potion through a deception, it is reflective of the original sin that damned Adam and Eve. They continue to sin because they cannot help it, while Lord Mark waits to judge them for their actions. And thus we find the terrible true tragedy of the middle ages: it is not the superstition, nor the abuses of the Church, or even the black plague, but a great and terrible misunderstanding of God and His mercy. For when you cannot comprehend God, when you have no true sense of Him, when you serve out of fear rather than devotion you wind up with exactly what unfolded in this period, which was a time of great brutality,
ignorance, superstition, and the crusades… the idea that a soul can be liberated from hell through persecuting the “infidels.” Interestingly, the most recent adaptation of Tristan and Isolde involved no love potion; the pair fall in love in Ireland, but Isolde is married to the kind and good Lord Mark. Her fierce passion for Tristan is so strong that they conduct an affair behind his back. In placing the moral responsibility of their actions back into their own hands, and in making Lord Mark a kind and benevolent man, the film paints the forbidden lovers as intensely foolish and selfish. Their guilt eats away at them but cannot save the kingdom when the truth comes to light. Which, I wonder, is the truer version to life, and ultimately, to our view of God? ∑
In the days of yesteryear, when people still wore cote and hosen and hood, there was an attempt made by one particular group to seize and hold the city of Jerusalem. Many have heard of the Crusades, where European Knights Templar and other devout souls attempted to reclaim for Christendom, Muslim Jerusalem. They have also heard of the fanaticism, criticism, and heedless bloodshed of the period, where the poor in the Middle East were preyed upon by these wealthier, betterarmed foreigners. Generally, the above is all that is remembered, yet there was massive culture and movement going on in the area as one group learned from the other and decreed periods of peace from time to time. From this period comes perhaps one of the most difficult stories recounted in book and film, of Jerusalem’s King Baldwin IV, his sister Sibylla, and her son by a first marriage, Baldwin V. This family is fairly prominent in Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven and is sadly intriguing in both history and fiction. The Kingdom of Heaven is often referred to by Jesus in the Bible, with some tangible emotion or experience relating to it in a positive light. In this movie, Jerusalem is called the Kingdom of Heaven, yet under that kingdom all sufferings known to man collide. Baldwin IV is placed on a pedestal by 6
his bloodline yet is doomed by that same fact: he is a leper king who wraps himself in bandages and wears a silver death mask while still living. Beneath this guise of a mummified pharaoh he conducts political business with Saladin with grace and tact, which the other ruler reciprocates. Yet his vile illness has left him unable to marry, doomed to rely on his
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.” – Matthew 11:12 sister’s young child to be his heir-apparent. Before his 30th year Baldwin dies, leaving the child to rule, who obediently sits next to his mother and signs whatever paper is placed before him. Sibylla loves her son with as much passion as a mother can, while despising her second husband Guy de Lusignan. Her marriage is one
of political strength and little love, with Guy forcing her to accept his knights’ allegiance in exchange for assurance that her son will be left on the throne. Guy covets the throne, though he is not quite so vile as to murder a child. The three (child-king, mother/wife, and would-be king) reside together in a tenuous relationship in one of the most unstable cities and lands in the world at that time. And then it happens, the most horrifying moment a mother must face: when she knows her own child is slowly dying. Young Baldwin feels no pain in his hands or feet, a sign he is a leper like his uncle and will die an agonizing death spread out over many years. Sibylla cannot bear this pain, to see her son eaten away as her brother was, and so she spends a loving day with him and playing his favorite games before giving him poison. It is a sin to take another’s life and Sibylla knows it well. Just as her husband is a murderer of many around him and forcefully has her crowned Queen and himself King by marriage, Sibylla must bear
the guilt of her bloodline and her own crimes. Jerusalem in Sibylla’s day, 1184, was claimed by three religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. As long as each said with conviction that owning it was a cornerstone of their religion, peace could not be held. Shortly after the crowning of Guy and Sibylla, in which this new king offends Saladin, the mighty ruler of the East marches with his army to that city. They make quick work of King Guy who takes his army to meet them and drive hard at the Kingdom of Heaven. Eventually, they reclaim it and permit those in the city to leave without
harassing them, yet where does a queen without a country, a mother without a child, a wife without a husband, a woman without hope go? For Sibylla and her family, the Kingdom of Heaven is a violent place, where violent people raid and despoil it, where sin ravages hearts and minds and destroys all that is good and kind. Her motherly love was turned into despair and death, her hopes of the future dashed on the sands and ground into dust. Scott gave this woman an almost hopeful ending, sending her off with Balian to France to find happiness. The real
Sibylla died in 1190 in Acre, Palestine, at age 30 of dreaded disease in a military camp as her husband waged more war. For Sibylla, man’s Kingdom of Heaven never offered her more than suffering’s kingdom, a land inhabited by war and death. If only a true believer could have told her that sinful man’s version of the Kingdom of Heaven always becomes a perversion, she might have gained solace in knowing the words of Daniel 7:27, that “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him” and earthly peace will finally reign. ∑
Caitlin Horton is a 20-something reader, seamstress, and history buff. She lives a life blessed in the knowledge that she is God's child, and her life has a purpose in the scope of His plan. She blogs about her crafts, and runs a Steampunk Emporium.
God doesn’t always call the equipped. He equips the called. On the surface, young Jeanne d’Arc—known to most as Joan of Arc—was a simple country girl. Her father was a farmer and in all likelihood she had chores and responsibilities as any other child did in those days. Her world was small; she knew her prayers and went to church every Sunday and would someday marry and have a family of her own. All of that changed when young Joan began receiving visions at age thirteen. According to her, the saints Michael, Catherine and Margaret appeared to her, encouraging her to drive the English out of her home country of France and restore the rightful heir to the French throne. War was all Joan knew, as did her parents and grandparents before her. France and England were entangled in what is called the Hundred Years’ War. There was no end in sight… at least until God began to speak to her. For years various prophecies circulated that France would be delivered by a Maid from Lorraine. Joan believed she was a fulfillment of prophecy. In the 15th century it was believed that God could only speak through the priests and many who claimed to receive
Divine Revelation from Him were considered heretics. Ultimately, her unique belief in God that emboldened her also led to her downfall. Refusing to be deterred by the opposition around her, she joined the military, dressing in men’s clothing and armor, cutting off her hair. Rather than take up a sword or a bow, she carried a twelve foot banner into various battles and offered advice to her comrades in arms. She planned military strategies, directed troops and oversaw the ethical behavior of the soldiers in the camp. In many ways, she was a mascot, a way to raise morale. With Joan on their side, the tide seemed to be turning in favor of the French. What had begun as a conflict between two neighboring countries had become an almost Holy War. From those around Joan, heaven seemed to be smiling down on her. The king himself rewarded Joan and her family for her contributions.
Following a short-lived truce between the English and French, Joan traveled to Compiègne to defend her country once more. There she was captured and suddenly the “Maid of Orlean’s” days were soon numbered. The English put her on trial, not only for leading troops and cross-dressing, they interrogated her about the visions she received and the mission she had received from God. The concept that someone could speak directly to the Lord was beyond their comprehension. No one could be certain of God’s grace or guaranteed salvation. In fact, to them it bordered on heresy. Joan would not be deterred. She showed no regret over her contributions, moreover she was determined that God did speak to her and would not be silenced in proclaiming so. During her imprisonment, she was held in a secular prison for more than a year, which meant her well-being and safety were at risk from 9
the male guards. She continued to wear men’s clothing as a means of protection. The French monarchy she dedicated herself to did nothing to rescue her or barter for her freedom. Those must have been very dark times for Joan, but considering all the struggles she faced before, we can safely assume that she clung to her faith. Only under the threat of torture and death did she recant her claims that the saints appeared to her. For a few days she resumed wearing women’s clothing, but once more donned men’s garb when threatened with rape. The English called her a “relapsed heretic” and had cause to sentence her to death. On May 30, 1431, nineteenyear-old Joan of Arc was bound to a post and burned alive, while the crowd around her jeered. As she died, she kept her focus on a crucifix that she requested two clergymen hold before her. Her final words were: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” Her remains were disposed of in the Seine River. In 1920, she was canonized as a saint.
To this day, for some the visions Joan had remains a mystery. Some experts have suggested anything from epilepsy to schizophrenia as an explanation. Tuberculosis was another possibility. While such ailments might explain hallucinations, it could not give a reason for her inner
strength, her perseverance, her unwavering faith and her success in battles. Nor could those issues account for how one simple girl—one who knew nothing more than her father’s farm and how to spin—went from mere obscurity to the deliverer of a nation. ∑
Veronica Leigh is an aspiring novelist, who lives in Indiana with her family and six furbabies. Her obsessions range from Jane Austen to the Holocaust to the Once Upon a Time. She has published two short autobiographical pieces and hopes to see more in print. She also lurks on her blog.
The world of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe is one of heroic knights, fair damsels, noble deeds and foul villainy. A world where two cultures, that of the Christian and that of the Jew, clash violently. It is also the tale of two men. Yes, certainly it is the tale of Ivanhoe, the courageous hero who is charming and youthful, full of vigor and passion. But ‘tis also the tale of Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, the ferocious Knight Templar, whose heart is captured by Rebecca, the Jewish maiden, whom he cannot have by any approved means and so determines to steal instead. It takes a ruthless man to abduct an innocent maiden and plead with her to become his mistress. But this is what de Bois-Guilbert does to the brave Rebecca. His heart, or rather his lust, is aflame for this exotic flower, and he does nearly all, short of rape, to claim her as his own. Yet, at the last moment, when Rebecca’s very life is at stake, he willingly sacrifices himself to save her. When Rebecca is “rescued” from de BoisGuilbert’s clutches, it is only to be placed under another type of imprisonment, that of the 12
church who insists she has bewitched their knight and must be put to death. She claims Ivanhoe as her champion and the church claims de Bois-Guilbert. When he could have easily defeated the wearied Ivanhoe, instead de Bois-Guilbert topples from his horse at the barest scratch in their joust and will not draw his sword when Ivanhoe approaches, thus conceding the contest to Ivanhoe, and ultimately, to Rebecca, winning her liberty. Life is full of moments where we stand at a crossroads with temptation. First one step down the wrong path and then another and then suddenly the crossroads are gone and there are more steps than we can even count than it would take to get us back there to embark upon the other path. Such is Brian de BoisGuilbert’s life story. He took many, many steps down the wrong road, and his encounter with Rebecca was simply one
Carissa Horton spends her working hours at Compassion International whose tagline reads “Releasing Children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” She is an avid crafter, a prolific blogger on Musings of an Introvert about all things literary and film-based, and dreams of someday getting her stories published. 14
step in a long chain of them. His lust, for it cannot be named otherwise, blazed bright and he took her prisoner without respect for her will and desires. It is easy to live a life guided by desire yet devoid of conscience. Sin grows. A temptation starts out small and seemingly insignificant. Then it hatches a new, slightly racier temptation. The new temptation is followed by yet another, even bigger than the last two. That is the downfall of man. Temptation dulls the conscience. The little Voice no longer whispers we shouldn’t be doing this, not because it is gone but because it has been ignored for so long that we can no longer hear it. The question of the hour is whether or not Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert ever returned to the correct path. That is a debatable question. After all, he wove the web through his abduction and then seductions that eventually caused the Templar to ensnare Rebecca. And he does little to help her at first, other than think about rebelling from the command to stand as champion against her. He accepts his fate to kill her champion with surprising complacency, saying “It must be—nothing may now save thy life. Thou and I are but the blind instruments of some irresistible fatality, that hurries us along, like goodly vessels driving before the storm,
which are dashed against each other, and so perish.” His behavior implies he has no say in his fate because it is driven by elements outside his control, so he and Rebecca must accept their destiny. It is his duty to kill her champion and it is her duty to die when he does so. So he says, up until the very final moment, when he finds he cannot do it and he allows Ivanhoe to win, preserving Rebecca’s life. It is the most sacrificial choice that Brian de Bois-Guilbert ever makes in the story, and it redeems him, at least in my eyes. Yes, he is terrible and frightening. Yet, he is also a tragic character, so near in design to Carver Doone from the epic classic
romance Lorna Doone. But where Carver chose to kill what he could not have, de Bois-Guilbert chose to save and release what he could not have. Two men of a similar bent, similar desires, but a different outcome, which is what ultimately makes Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert an empathetic anti-hero of the first class order. Readers may feel guilty in liking him, pitying him, or perhaps in despising him when he is, in fact, not all evil. He is simply a valid representation of a man who trained himself to take what he wanted until he finally discovered, too late, that some things cannot be stolen and those things are the most worth earning. ∑
Though history has provided filmmakers with many distinct eras to use as settings for stories, few time periods have been represented on screen quite as extensively as the years known as the Middle Ages. Spanning the centuries from the end of what we refer to as ancient times to the beginning of the Renaissance, these years are also known as the medieval era and feature a wealth of immediately recognizable visual elements, such as knights in armor on horses, majestic castles, and dirty peasants. These can be such a striking feast for the eyes that fantasy stories set in completely made up realms nearly always take a medieval look in their production values. War was a large part of this era, so action is usually the genre chosen for a tale set in this period, but comedy has a place as well. Anachronism, or the use of details not authentic to a historical period, can be an effective comedic tool in cinema and the film A Knight’s Tale utilizes these features. It is an entertaining example of anachronisms used without detriment to the enjoyment of the audience.
Filmmaker Brian Helgeland wrote and directed A Knight’s Tale, released in May 2001. Heath Ledger stars as William Thatcher, a squire to Sir Ector. When his liege dies during a jousting tournament, William must compete in his place in order to feed himself and his fellow squires Roland (Mark Addy), and Wat (Alan Tudyk). Then William realizes he can pretend to be a knight and change his whole life, and he convinces his friends to go along for the ride. They meet a writer called Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany), early in their adventures. William also falls for and wins Lady Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon). Throughout tournament after tournament, he must also face the vicious Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). The first historically out of place element viewers will notice is the soundtrack. After a scene, establishing Sir
Ector’s death and the need for William to take his place jousting, the filmmakers chose to draw direct comparisons between jousting and sports of our own time by playing the stadium anthem We Will Rock You by Queen as the jousting resumes. The characters on screen clap along to the beat of the song and mouth the words. It immediately lets the audience know the tone of this film will be fun. More modern songs appear, such as The Boys are Back in Town and Low Rider but only one other song actually takes a place in the context of a scene. This is when Will and Jocelyn dance at a ball to the beat of David Bowie’s Golden Years. By the time AC/DC ends the film with You Shook Me All Night Long, you will probably want to buy the soundtrack. Anachronism also show up in the costumes. Many of them have more of a modern feeling 17
than anything actually worn in the Middle Ages. Wat wears a short-sleeved tunic over a long-sleeved one in one scene, for example, and some pants William and Chaucer wear have a bootleg shape to the leg. Most of the historically inaccurate (but still attractive) costuming appears on the character of Jocelyn. Many details in her ensembles—a little hat here, a sheer panel there—are much more fashion -forward than true to the attire of the period. Another part of her appearance more modern than it should be is her hair. Only in a few scenes does she show the long hair we expect on a medieval maiden in a hairstyle that might have been worn during that time. Instead, she is often sports up-dos that end with hair spiking to the side, something that wouldn’t be out of place in a fashion magazine editorial today. Fans in the stands watching the jousting are often seen with painted faces, a hallmark 18
of today’s sporting events. These things photograph well, so the viewer takes them in with less of a complaint that they are inaccurate. Finally, there are the modern lines of dialogue and bits of humor. The use of a word here or there that probably didn’t come into use until later, such as “fantastic” or “wow,” isn’t as obvious as the very modern tone of a lot of the humor. For example, Wat shows his short temper by frequently threatening to “fong” someone, which sounds completely like modern slang. He also rouses the crowd cheering for knights as they arrive for the World Championship Tournament in London with “Give us a shout out London!” Chaucer acts as Will’s herald to introduce him at events and does so in a way that references the introduction of a late-night talk show host. He follows that up by telling the crowd, “Thank
you, I’ll be here all week.” At another point, Jocelyn calls a lance a “stick” and Wat retorts with the very modern phrase, “It’s called a lance, hello!” The viewer just laughs at this humor, not really caring that people in the Middle Ages probably didn’t talk like that. Though A Knight’s Tale has a lot of anachronisms, they are used toward a goal of entertainment that succeeds for the audience. In fact, this film is not the only one set in the medieval period to use historical inaccuracies for comedic purposes. Another example is Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which is a spoof version of the classic Robin Hood legend. It is full of intentional errors yet it is still funny. When you want your Middle Ages on screen with some modern humor to spare, A Knight’s Tale is an option for entertainment without the chains of complete historical authenticity. ∑
Rachel Sexton is from Ohio and has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. But what you really need to know is that she has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life and her favorite fandoms are Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and Once Upon a Time. Plus, she is most described as quiet and her biggest vice is cupcakes. Her main hobby is editing fan videos. 19
“May God grant us the wisdom to discover right, the will to choose it, and the strength to make it endure.” Arthur was the famous king of England of the late 5th and early 6th centuries. He lived such a long time ago that we know very little about him. This king had such strange adventures, and did such wonderful things, that people have never tired of writing, reading and filming about him and his famous Knights of the Round Table. “It was not until Arthur had grown to young manhood, that he knew he was of royal blood”
Arthur was the first born son of King Uther Pendragon and heir to the throne. However these were very troubled times and Merlin, a wise magician, advised that the baby Arthur should be raised in a secret place and that none should know his true identity. As Merlin feared, when King Uther died there was great conflict over who should be the next king. Merlin used his magic to set a magical sword from The Lady Of The Lake called Excalibur in a stone.
Around the sword, written in letters of gold, were these words: “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is the rightwise born king of all England.” All the contenders for the throne took their turn at trying to draw the sword, but none could succeed. Arthur, quite by chance, withdrew the sword for another to use in a tournament. Following this he became King. “Now, boy, flying is not merely some crude, mechanical
process. It is a delicate art. Purely aesthetic. Poetry of motion. And the best way to learn it is to do it.”
power of friendship, Wart discovers his destiny and learns the best magic is the kind you find inside yourself.
American animated musical fantasy comedy film The Sword in the Stone produced by Walt Disney (1963) ws based on the Excalibur legend. We can take an amazing journey with a young orphan named “Wart” and the extraordinary wizard Merlin. According to legend, only someone with the purest character and inner strength can pull the enchanted sword from the stone and claim the throne of England. Armed with newfound confidence and the
After pulling the sword, Arthur gathered Knights around him and fought back against the Saxons who, since the Romans left Britain, were slowly but surely taking the country over. After many great battles and a huge victory at Mount Badon the Saxons’ advance was halted. “Camelot is a belief that we hold in our hearts.” Arthur’s base was at a place called Camelot. Here he built
a strong castle. Camelot first appeared in 12th-century French romances and, after the Lancelot-Grail cycle, eventually came to be described as the fantastic capital of Arthur’s realm and a symbol of the Arthurian world. The stories locate it somewhere in Great Britain and sometimes associate it with real cities, though more usually its precise location is not revealed. Arthur’s knights met at a Round Table in Camelot. They carried out acts of chivalry such as rescuing damsels in distress and fought against strange beasts. They also searched for a lost treasure, which they 21
believed would cure all ills— this was the “Quest for the Holy Grail.” King Arthur told Merlin that his barons would give him no rest until he found a wife, and asked his advice. He went to Merlin and said that he loved Guinevere, the daughter of King Leodogran. Merlin came to King Leodogran and told him that King Arthur desired his daughter, the fair Guinevere, for his wife.
there in your life? I may be wrong.” First Knight is a 1995 medieval film based on Arthurian legend, directed by Jerry Zucker. It stars Richard
“I only know one way to love my lord, and that is body and mind and soul.” As the story opens, Guinevere’s lands are under attack by the evil knight Malagant, and she must choose between marriage to Arthur and the security of Camelot or encouraging the affections of Lancelot, who has heroically rescued her from a potentially lethal attack. Anyone looking for meticulous medieval authenticity won’t find it here, but director Jerry Zucker keeps the action moving with exuberant spirit and glorious production values.
“This is good news to me that so noble and powerful a king as he should wish my only daughter.” The king gave his daughter, Guinevere to Merlin to bring her to king Arthur to become his wife. When King Arthur heard that Guinevere was coming he was very happy, for he had loved her for a long time. The marriage of Arthur and Guinevere was celebrated with great festivities. Arthur loved Queen Guinevere and did many great deeds in her honor. “Lancelot, just a thought. A man who fears nothing is a man who loves nothing; and if you love nothing, what joy is 22
renegade knight Malagant. It is noteworthy within Arthurian cinema for its absence of magical elements, its drawing on the material of Chrétien de Troyes for plot elements and the substantial age difference between Arthur and Guinevere.
Gere as Lancelot, Julia Ormond as Guinevere, Sean Connery as King Arthur and Ben Cross as Malagant. It follows the rogue Lancelot’s romance with Lady Guinevere of Leonesse, who is to marry King Arthur of Camelot, while the land is threatened by the
In the end of the film on his deathbed, Arthur asks Lancelot to “take care of her for me”—referring to both Camelot and Guinevere. The film closes with a funeral raft carrying Arthur’s body floating out to sea, which is set aflame.
Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is a philologist specializing in Ancient Russian drama and theatre. She’s also a film and television critic by calling and librarian by profession. You can find her essays on her Facebook page and on Lumiere. She also blogs in English and Russian.
So Queen Guinevere, Arthur’s beautiful wife brought romance to the legend while his equally beautiful half sister Morgan le Fay added a dark side. “Nobody knows you, Morgan. They all know of Arthur, but not you.” Camelot (2011) is an American TV show, airing on Starz, about a young commoner, Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower), who becomes the heir to the throne of England following the death of King Uther, where he is championed by the wizard Merlin (Joseph Fiennes) but destined to tangle with his evil half sister, the sorceress Morgan (Eva Green). And Morgan is the center of the story. “Camelot is in its death throes. Once its lies are exposed, it
will quickly decay, and people will look around in fear and panic. And I will be there to pick them up. They will need me.” Morgana Pendragon is the beautiful and ruthlessly ambitious daughter of King Uther. She wishes to claim her right to her father’s throne, but she does not count on Merlin’s plans or the existence of Arthur, her newly revealed half -brother. In her pursuit of power and revenge, Morgan gives herself over to dark forces that allow her to threaten the court of Camelot from within. She functions as the main antagonist of the series. “There’s a peace only to be found on the other side of war. If that war should come I will fight it!”
But what has the history told us? Unfortunately, as peace settled over the country things turned sour within the court of Camelot and civil war broke out. In the final battle at Camlan both Arthur and Mordred, Arthur’s traitorous nephew (or son of Arthur and Morgan in some traditions), were mortally wounded. Arthur was set upon a boat and floated down river to the isle of Avalon. Here his wounds were treated by three mysterious maidens. His body was never found and some say that he rests under a hill with all his knights in an enchanted castle, ready to ride forth and save the country again. Others declare that on his tomb is written: HERE ARTHUR LIES, KING ONCE AND KING TO BE. ∑
One of the things I like best about Robin Hood is how many flavors he comes in. Sweet Robin Hood. Dark Robin Hood. Zesty Robin Hood. Whatever you're craving, there's a Robin Hood for you!
Say you want your Robin Hood sweet and light, but not too sugary. Go for the 1973 Disney animated version. Robin Hood's quite the foxy fellow here (literally), always one merry step ahead of Prince John and his cohorts. He's playful, he's always donning some disguise or other, and nothing ever goes seriously wrong for him, even when he's being threatened by a wolf brandishing a burning torch. The milk chocolate of Robin Hoods, the 1973 Robin Hood is perfect for satisfying your Robin Hood craving without leaving you feeling too full.
live-action version, The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. Starring Richard Todd as our loveable rogue, this also has a confectionary feel to it, but with more substance than a cartoon can hold. Very
But what if you want something a little more filling? Cake, instead of just a chocolate bar, for instance. Check out the 1952 Disney
Right, but say you're in the mood for a Robin Hood that's light, but nourishing. Sample 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood. Beneath Errol
nice for a dessert.
Flynn's happy-go-lucky grin lurks a conscience troubled by the way he must turn outlaw to thwart lawbreakers and protect innocent people. This one's a nice ham and cheese sandwichâ€”good for a quick lunch, but not too heavy. If ham and cheese isn't your thing, you could always go for peanut-butter-and-jelly instead. That'd be Princess of Thieves, a 2001 TV movie that features a teen Keira Knightley as Robin Hood's headstrong daughter. This one's got everything you want in a comfort foodâ€” adventure, a little sprinkling of romance, and lots of bravery. Like a PB&J, it's something kids are gonna go nuts over. And then there's the dark Robin Hood. Like a 90%
cacao bar of chocolateâ€”you can only eat a bite or too, and you're not entirely sure if you're enjoying it, but you want some more. Yes, I'm talking about the 2010 movie starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. It's grim and violent, and spends more time on Robin Hood's back story than on his merry adventures. At the same time, it's got some really enjoyable aspects too, so it's good for a gloomy day when you don't want something chipper anyway.
When she's not writing, Rachel Kovaciny passes the time by reading, baking, watching movies, crocheting, blogging, and homeschooling her three children. Her least favorite activities are house-cleaning and wearing shoes, and she's been known to go to great lengths to avoid both. She blogs about books, and also has a personal blog that talks about movies and other important things.
I also promised you zesty Robin Hood. For that, look no farther than the BBC's adaptation that ran from 2006 to 2009. Filled with zingy dialog, handsome men, pretty ladies, and a healthy helping of derring-do, it will keep you thoroughly entertained, but it's not something you'd share with a little kid. Think a spicy salsa or those pickled peppers I've yet to work up the courage to try. Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves wants to be zesty, but it comes off a little too earnest, so it's more ketchup than salsa. It mixes Kevin Costner with Christian Slater into something a little sweet and a little salty, but it's not specifically suited to any one meal. Also, like ketchup, some people want it all the time, and some people think a little bit goes a long way. As for Robin Hood: Men in Tights, honestly, this is the pickle relish of Robin Hood
movies. They took something tasty, chopped it up, and turned it into something I really don't want too much of. It's funny for a few minutes, but then I've had more than enough of it. Of course, there are many other Robin Hood flavors. There's the '50s TV show starring Richard Greene, the silent Douglas Fairbanks version, Robin and the Seven Hoods (in case you're craving some Rat Pack gangsters),
and the 1976 Robin and Marion (with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn playing the aging couple). I won't even delve into all the Ivanhoe adaptations, which also involve dear Robin. And these are just the versions I've personally seen! There are dozens more. Like I said, there's a Robin Hood for every tasteâ€”no matter what your mood or preference, you're sure to find one to satisfy your craving. âˆ‘
ELORA CARMEN SHORE
There are always movies that just stick in your head ever since you were a kid. Princess Bride has always been one of those movies that encapsulated the classic adventure genre for me. It had just that charm of living characters that make you want to quote their lines even as they are saying them. Every once in awhile another moment, and told something Well, that one dude looks nod to the classics is made, that was truly magic. skeevy, but those other two and it becomes a classic in its Comforting, but dangerous and dudes look too regular and… own right—it's just its own heroic in its proportions. They normal to be really bad guys. thing. Princess Bride was a part put us in the time of heroes, but And then you see that Vizzini is of my childhood, the characters also in the time of our life when the boss, the truly mean one— were always a part of my heroes meant the most to us. albeit hilarious—and the others imagination, and mental canon They told it from the point of actually seem to be pretty okay. of fantasy/classic adventure view of a child being read to by Bad guys, but a sort of—okay heroes. It is filled with bad guy. Good bad “When I was your age television was called guys. For me that was a wonderful leading 'books', and this is a special book. It was the revelation. Bad guys that characters and the amazing, amazing villains book that my father used to read to me when I were normal, funny, and was sick, and I used to read it to your father. perhaps not truly bad and side characters that breathe more fire into the people. You can actually And today I'm going to read it to you…. life of the story. fencing, fighting—torture—revenge, giants, root for them almost. monsters; chases, escapes, true love. Miracles.” Through humor, often I don't think it’s just that it comes the most human is told in a classic genre, a tale his grandfather, the carrying on perception. Fezzik just wants a of a “time long ago” where of an old, basic tradition. The job, Inigo too, but he also has heroes wore masks and reawakening of it. The spur of something else driving him (the clashed with swords, and there imagination back into power, in lovely, age-old revenge angle), were giants and princesses. a time of tech idolatry. and Vizzini is just a selfish, They crafted a story from life, crime-touting lout. With a funny our perception of the stories of Remember when the gang business sense. And a high our childhood. They took us kidnaps Buttercup? You look at opinion of his bald intellect. back, put us back in that that trio and (at least I do) think, 27
love my father. So naturally I challenge his murderer to a duel. I fail. The sixfingered man leave me alive. But he gave me these.” [Fingers the scars lining either cheek] Westley: “How old were you?”
One aspect of this human portrayal in a brilliant story is the heart of Fezzik. He's actually a good person. Just got caught up in things. I heard a story while watching the behind the scenes footage that in the cliff scene, Wallace Shawn (also known as Shawn Wallace, I've seen both used) was terrified of the height of the stunt. He was quoted as saying that even looking down at his feet gave him the heebiejeebies. Andre the Giant put his hand on him and stroked him gently, saying, “Don't worry, I'll take care of you.” And Shawn wasn't the least scared after that. Did the scene fine. Even though he's scared to death of heights—I truly think Andre's kindness, his own heart, carried over greatly into his character. It wasn't just a great performance, but also his genuine heart.
And what memory is complete without Inigo and his, “Hello, I am Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”? Honestly. It has to be the line of the movie. While so much of it is incredibly quotable, this line is a banner in the story. It is like a pinnacle of the adventurous hero, who has a bleeding heart. And his repartee with Westley, along with the epic swordfight so brilliantly choreographed by Bob Anderson (the god of film sword-fighting, God rest his soul). Inigo and Westley encapsulate that gritty, shady hero—the one that you know is a good man, but has lead a bloody, adventurous life. The romance of exploits and tragedy and adventures surrounded them like a charm. Their banter leads to the truth, about Inigo’s father: “Without a word the six-fingered man slash him through the heart. I
“I was eleven years old. When I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet—I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, 'Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” “You've done nothing but study swordplay?” “More pursue than study lately. You see, I cannot find him. It's been twenty years and I'm starting to lose confidence. I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.” Priceless. Grandeur and tragedy, wrapped in irony and the everyday humor of the typical burden. There are not many female characters that I like. Rarely are they done well. Even more rarely does a female character in the place of a damsel in
distress get done really well— by not making her the damsel in distress. Buttercup is done realistically. She let herself go in some ways, she gave into her grief when she believed her love was dead, but—and I firmly believe this has a lot do with the astounding performance of Robin Wright— there was a strength to her grief. It wounded her, took the joy out of her, but it made her strong. It beautified a cocky brat into a knowing, wise, lovetorn woman who came to realize a better version of herself because of someone she loved. She is both feminine and resilient, wounded and strengthened (aside my annoyance at that one scene in the Fire Swamp, where she was petrified. I was a bit annoyed at that one, her letting her rescuing lover get all torn up while she just stood there) and while she let herself go within the clutches of Prince Humperdinck, there is still a bit
of steel underneath. It takes hope for her to remember it. When the “Man in Black” taunts her with the murder of her love, Buttercup snaps back, “I died that day!!”
And when she discovers that Prince Humperdink has lied about sending his four fastest ships to find Westley, Buttercup says, “es! I am a silly girl. For not seeing sooner that you're nothing but a coward with a heart full of fear… Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds. And you cannot break it, not with a thousands swords! And when I say you
are a coward, it is only because you are the slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth!!” How's that for a declaration of defiance and loyalty? These stories and characters show us that a belief in the heroic, fearless and true is not dead. The story is full of superb villains and side characters that add yet more brilliance to the cast, and more memorable scenes. I could go on forever about how they flesh out the story even more, the brilliance they serve. But I don't have the room. I think these have said it enough. You just don't see tales like this anymore; they can seem like a dying breed. Then another pops up… and we fall in love all over again. True classic heroism never dies.∑
Elora Carmen Shore has been writing for almost fifteen years, has published a short story titled Eloise and her first collection of poetry titled A Road to Count the Days By last year, available on Amazon Kindle. It should also become available in print later this year. Her poems have appeared in several magazines, such as Moon Drenched Fables, Moon Washed Kisses, and Vox Poetica. She is currently working on a romcom and a fantasy trilogy. She likes to keep things diverse. Elora can be found at her blogs, Pendragon and Out My Front Door.
NEXT TIME: The Fisher King Lost The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Teen Wolf Severus Snape A Snicker of Magic Inkheart Orson Scott Card Winter’s Tale Percy Jackson
HALLOWEEN: “Villainesses” The Evil Queen, Gertrude, Jadis, Dolorus Umbridge, Wicked Witch of Oz, Catherine de Medici, Morgana, Maleficent, Asajj Ventress, and more.
The genre of “Magical Realism” are magical tales set in a real-world environment, so that the magic itself and its trappings (including otherworldly creatures) is the only major deviation from reality. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Harry Potter are prime examples. WANT TO CONTRIBUTE? Claim your topic before someone else does! firstname.lastname@example.org
NOV/DEC: “Renaissance” Michelangelo, Ever After, Jodhaa Akbar, Thomas Becket, Queen Elizabeth I, Katherine von Bora Luther, Da Vinci, and much more!
Coming Oct 1st!
Tristan & Isolde, Kingdom of Heaven, Joan of Arc, Ivanhoe, A Knight’s Tale, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Princess Bride