Lancelot du Lac was directed by French filmmaker Robert Bresson (1901-99) and released in 1974. It is in French, and was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes in 1974.
It follows a stripped-down version of the events described in the Vulgate Cycle romance Le Mort le roi Artu. It is one of only two historical films made by Bresson, and its rather bare narrative style is an attempt to avoid imposing a particular view of history.
Story & ThemeEdit
The movie begins with the return of Arthur's knights from the Grail Quest. Those who have survived have, by definition, failed. They return disillusioned and violent. Lancelot hesitates, after the idealism of the Grail Quest, to resume his relationship with Guinievre, but he does so anyway. A faction at court tries to use this against Lancelot, who however has his own faction which removes the Queen to a safe place. Meanwhile foreign invaders are attacking, and in the end they slaughter all the knights of the Round Table.
The film presents Arthur's court as a place of failed ideals, where men are reduced to their passions and, in a medieval sense at least, become irrational. The horses that carry the knights are nobler than the knights themselves, since they live and die fully as animals; the knights are neither merely animals nor the angels that the Grail Quest demanded.
The cast, composed of amateur actors (a preference of Bresson's in many of his films) includes:
- Luc Simon (Lancelot)
- Laura Duke Condominas (the Queen, i.e. Guinievre)
- Vladimir Antolek-Oresek (the King, i.e. Arthur)
- Humbert Balsan (Gauvain)
- Patrick Bernhard (Mordred)
- Arthur de Montalembert (Lionel)