The Mists of Avalon
Turner Network Television
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:
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