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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Movie Review: The Mists of Avalon

The Mists of Avalon

Turner Network Television
183 Minutes
July 15, 2001

Have you ever wondered what the legend of King Arthur would be like if told from the viewpoint of the women in his life? If so, this miniseries does just that. While the most likely female character to tell this tale would be Guinevere, this is told by Morgaine, Arthur’s half-sister – so this is also predominately at tale of Morgaine.

Let’s start with the characters/actors. There are some relatively big names in this production. In terms of the women - Angelica Houston plays Vivianne – the Lady of the Lake and Morgaine’s predecessor; Julianna Margulies plays Morgaine – the central character; Joan Allen is Morgause – Arthur’s other sister; and Samantha Mathis is Guinevere. Edward Atterton is King Arthur and Michael Vartan (my favorite!) is Lancelot. I thought that all of these actors and actresses were well chosen for their roles. There was a great relationship between Arthur and Lancelot and it reminded me of the relationship between Henry VIII and Charles Brandon from The Tudors. This miniseries certainly did not paint Guinevere in a positive light, but I would imagine that if you are looking at it from Morgaine’s point of view, I guess she might not be her favorite person. Gwen is portrayed as a scheming woman. I also think that the character of Merlin was wasted and not at all influential in this show. He pretty much had maybe 5 minutes of screen time and then your promptly forgot about him.

The one thing that really bothered me about this show was ultimately the relationship between Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. To include a three-some between them and have in sanctioned by Arthur in order to beget him an heir sounds like it was created for purely shock value. This felt like something that HBO would have added in if they were creating the story, not TNT. It didn’t feel natural to the characters and at that point I stopped believing in it.

Overall I enjoyed seeing this tale which is typically male dominated looked at from the female perspective. It really gives you a different perception of events. I will certainly have to read the book it is based on The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Here is a trailer:

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I did not enjoy this movie at all, the threesome bothered me too. I did read the book and it is much better.

  2. I had no idea there was a movie for The Mists of Avalon. I really want to read the book, since most reviews seem to praise it a lot.

  3. The threesome was also in the book. I have not seen the movie, but the book is definitely worth the read. The prequel, The Forest House, is also worth checking out.

  4. I didn't see this movie but I read this book throughly enjoyed it. Can't say I remember a three some, but the book is more about the power of women in this myth, not Arthur. Hence no strong Merlin either. If I remember correctly, I think Gwen was a bitch in the book too. It's been several years since I read it.

  5. I loved the book and really enjoyed the movie -- I didn't mind the threesome since it's from the book and is explored a little more in depth there (Gwen's hope/horror about it, Arthur's trying to give them permission, etc). I've found the rest of MZB's book pretty unreadable but Mists was unexpectedly fun.

  6. Anne - I liked it enough, but there were certainly things that I had issues with. I hear the book is much better and I do intend to read it someday.

    Misha - I would recommend reading the book first (even though I haven't) - it is possible that stuff would make more sense.

    Rebecca - I hope it was explained better in the book, because it felt out of place with the rest of the movie. I didn't know there was a prequel to the book!

    Jenny - I totally get that it is about the power of women, but I wouldn't expect the men to be such wimps either - you can have women empowerment without denigrating the men. But I do look forward to reading the book.

    Audra - I think I might have liked it better if I had read the book first - but I didn't realize at the time that it was based on the book.

  7. I saw the movie first, and then read the book, and the threesome was not to my liking either. :( The movie, however, leaves out so much! I would consider the book and movie on completely separate terms. Although I absolutely love the ending the movie gives to Lancelot and Gwen. Really perfect.

  8. This came out several years after I read the book. I have to mention that the book is one of my top 20 favorites, probably even in my top 10, but I still really liked the mini-series. I thought it stayed relatively true to the book and I thought Julianna Margolies did a great job as Morgaine. I'm not big on the threesome scene either, but I'm not much for threesomes in anything, so that's bound to turn me off. LOL Overall, I liked it well enough to buy it on DVD. The music in it is some of my most favorite Celtic music. I'm pretty sure Loreena McKennitt's Mystic's Dream is the main song. Love that song!

  9. Untouchable Treasure - oh I can just imagine that the movie leaves a lot out - they usually do. I don't really remember the ending - unfortunately.

    Michelle - I too thought that Julianna Margolies did a great job as well. I did think that the music was beautiful. I have it in my plans to hopefully read the book at some point.

  10. I liked the book, but the mini-series was just a bit off to me. I did read the book before watching the mini-series, but don't remember feeling much of a connection. I remember the mini-series being a bit much compared to what was on TV on the time. I was offended by several scenes. I think that, like many things, a second look is warranted.

  11. Librarypat - I too was shocked that this was shown on TNT. It really felt like something that you would typically see on HBO or the like. I didn't love it, but it was ok. I do want to read the book tho.


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