King Arthur: Young Warlord is an attempt to portray a more realistic version of King Arthur's stories using film. Stories that usually involve magic or incredible levels of skill are instead portrayed as something intelligent or something mundane. It leads to a far more believable version of Arthur than we normally see.
The plot of the movie is divided into 5 main sections, each an individual tale of one of Arthur's accomplishments.
The Sword in the Stone Edit
Arthur had been having trouble gathering all the warlords in the area together to talk about the prospect of putting aside their old quarrels to defend against the Saxons. After many attempts to get them to meet peaceably, Arthur fakes his own death. The warlords all come rushing to capture his territories and add them to their own. Arthur expected this, and traps each group as they make their way towards his village. He explains to them that they all need to work together or Cerdig the Saxon will defeat them with ease. To prove this to them, Arthur had many men roll a giant rock onto a sword. Arthur proclaims the person who could take the sword from under the rock would be the leader of the troops. Each of the warlords tries and cannot move the rock. To demonstrate unity, Arthur takes one hand from each of them and has them push. Together they easily move it. While some consider it a cheap trick, most of the warlords recognize the wisdom in this and allow Arthur to lead the troops. Mark of Cornwall, however, does not, and when Arthur attempts to set up a trap for the Saxons, Mark directs his men to simply charge into the enemy. Eventually, Arthur has to knock Mark out in order to win the battle. He draws the Saxons back through a river, which they cannot cross because they are weighted down with heavy coats . Once they are stuck in the river, Arthur and the Celts defeat them with ease and force them to retreat.
The Training of Corin Edit
A few years before this movie begins, Arthur had killed Corin's father, who was well known across the land as a terrible and merciless killer. When Corin rides up to Arthur's encampment, Arthur is not aware that Corin is the son of the man he has slain. Corin attacks Arthur, and Arthur easily defeats him. Corin explains that he only attacked Arthur to show Arthur how weak he was. Arthur asked why Corin didn't have his father or the other men of his village train him, and he replied that his father was dead and everyone else was equally as poor at swordsmanship as he was. He also explains that he comes from the north part of the isle, and that the Picts regularly burn and pillage his town, and that he has to become a better fighter in order to stop them. Arthur begins to train Corin, and later Llud recognizes Corin as the son of the man Arthur killed. Llud warns Arthur against continuing to train him, and Arthur replies that he has to now that he's started. Arthur is willing to risk his own life in order to teach Corin how to fight so he could keep his word, and so that Corin could defend his people. Later, Llud and Kai convince Corin not to kill Arthur, since Corin's father died in a fair fight. This serves to raise the interesting question of when it is acceptable to try to attain vengeance for someone who is killed in a fair fight, and Arthur and Kai decide they aren't sure whether it is or not.
The Marriage of Rowena Edit
This adventure serves more to humanize Arthur than anything else. The Arthur in the other adventures is incredibly smart, skilled with a blade, and strong. His love for Rowena, however, causes him to act irrationally--especially when he finds out she is destined to be married to Mark of Cornwall, whom he considers a complete barbarian. He goes to visit Rowena's father, Yorath, the chieftain of the Jutes, and he is equally distressed about the marriage. He asks Arthur, who was previously pretending it didn't bother him, to break up the wedding, and in return, Yorath would close a security hole in his border which was allowing Saxons through. Arthur goes to the wedding, where Mark of Cornwall is pretending to be the nicest, sweetest man in the world, and continually tries to annoy him into a rage in order to show Rowena he is not the man she thinks he is. While Mark of Cornwall manages to last quite a while, when Arthur trips him into the dirt and kicks his face into it, this is too much for Mark to take, and he flies into a rage. Rowena realizes that Arthur is in fact correct about his true nature, and the two of them ride off together. He later pledges his fidelity to her.
Rescue of Prisoners Edit
In this adventure, Arthur shows his loyalty to Llud and Kai, who are kidnapped by Saxons. He also once again shows how sly he is when he tricks Mark of Cornwall into helping him rescue them. Arthur, Llud, and Kai are out adventuring, when suddenly they are ambushed by Saxons. The Saxons attempt to kidnap the three of them, but Arthur gets away. He heads immediately to Mark of Cornwall's village, where he asked to borrow a boat to 'raid a Saxon encampment' which supposedly has 'valuable treasure and weapons'. Mark is immediately intrigued and demands to be allowed to go with Arthur. Mark and Arthur are both ambushed and are almost captured themselves. Eventually, however, they make it to Kai and Llud.
Scottish Army Edit
The Jutes, Celts, and the Saxons all receive word of a large fleet of Scots headed towards the island to conquer and destroy everything in their path. In order to deal with this threat, Arthur once again attempts to raise an army from the combined might of the peoples of Briton, however, when he visits the Jutes, Yorath informs Arthur that he has made peace with the Saxons. This challenges one of Arthur's basic assumptions from the beginning, which is that the Saxons are a warlike people bent on destruction. Yorath asks Arthur why he thinks the Saxons are so different from himself, and Arthur realizes the folly of his actions. he attempts to make peace with the Saxons. They succeed in making peace, and over dinner they find out that the Scottish fleet had sunk on its way to the isle, and the danger was gone. Both sides seemed intent, however, on maintaining the peace. The moment they had finally begun to trust each other, however, someone outside accidentally killed someone else while playing a game throwing knives. This accidentally stabbing leads to a huge battle. As the Saxons left, both sides spoke amongst each other about how they wanted peace still, but the other side was too barbaric to understand what it was.
King Arthur is played by Oliver Tobias. The King Arthur in this story is a very young Arthur. The Britons are in disarray, and he is attempting to reunite them. He is a very crafty and wise version of Arthur, despite his young age. At one point, in order to defeat Corin's father who is very strong, Arthur pretends to have dropped his sword, but then kicks it up back into his hand and kills the knight.
Kai is played by Michael Gothard. Kai is Arthur's brother and best friend. Unlike most legend, Kai is the adopted brother of Arthur, instead of the other way around. Another major difference is that Kai is a Saxon. Much like the Celtic tradition, Kai is a great warrior. While he isn't an impossibly powerful warrior, he is one of the strongest warriors in the entire movie. At one point in the movie Arthur chastised Kai for making a battle look too easy when he wanted to impress upon the other chieftains that they were in danger from the Saxons.
Llud is played by John Watson. Llud is the adaptation of an old Celtic deity. There is a large amount of debate over whether Llud was originally a human who was then made into a deity, or if he was a deity who was then related to a real person who was then exaggerated. In this movie, however, Llud is a mere human with a hand made out of silver, allegedly a replacement for his real hand which lost in a battle in his youth. He also serves as Merlin in this story, albeit far less magical. He dispenses advice just like Merlin did to Arthur.
Mark of Cornwall is played by Brian Blessed. Mark of Cornwall is the main antagonist to Arthur's attempt at reunification. While Arthur believes that cooperation is the key to defeating the Saxons, Mark considers himself strong enough to beat them on his own, even when confronted with the fact that isn't true. Mark of Cornwall is patterned after one of Brutus' most valuable troops, Corineus. Cornwall was also named after Corineus. While Arthur represents the Celtic forces who realize the need to unify to defeat the Saxons, Mark represents those forces who are incapable of rising above their petty squables. Arthur eventually manages to repair his relationship with Mark of Cornwall, and he becomes a valuable ally, eventually helping Arthur to rescue Kai and Llud.
Corin is played by Peter Firth. Corin is a young man who encounters Arthur and attacks him to show him his poor swordsmanship, and ask Arthur for training. Arthur agrees to train him, even though Corin plans to kill Arthur to avenge his father, who Arthur slew. Since Corin's people are terrible fighters and they live in the North, near the Picts, Arthur agrees to train him even though he knows it could end up in his death so that Corin can defend his people. Corin decides not to kill him, however, after Kai and Llud convince Corin that Arthur killed his father in a fair fight and it would be silly to hold a grudge about such a thing. The issue of Corin also raises the long unanswered question of whether or not knights must avenge their relatives, provided their relatives are killed in a fair fight. As Corin leaves, Arthur and Kai discuss what one would do if the other were killed, and they decide that they weren't sure.
Rowena is played by Gila von Weitershausen. Rowena takes her name from the woman who married Vortigern, and the woman who made him make irrational conceptions to the Saxons. Rowena is not a Saxon here, however, but a Jute of the same name. Her father is the chieftian of the Jutes and controls a very important area for the defense of the isle. Rowena is Arthur's love interest in the movie, and she plays a very minor role. She appears in only one portion of the show, where a lord asks Arthur to break up a relationship between Rowena and Mark of Cornwall. She believes that Mark is a genuinely nice person, and that Arthur is just being overprotective of her, but Arthur can not bring himself to admit that he loves her. She is very different from Guinevere, in that she is very loyal and active, instead of Guinevere who cheats on Arthur and gets captured quite a few times. This is one very interesting break from normal Arthurian legend. This is probably an attempt to give Arthur a more Celtic bride than Guinevere.
Cerdig is played by Rupert Davies. Cerdig is the leader of the Saxons who invade the Britons. Unlike in most legends, where the Saxons are painted evil, these Saxons only fight because of the mutual hostility between the sides. For a brief moment before it is ruined, there is a peace between Arthur and the Saxons. Unfortunately, one person accidentally kills a knight from the opposing faction and the peace meeting dissolves into chaos.