Lancelot of the Lake (1974)

“It was not the Grail; it was God you all wanted.”

Synopsis:
Upon return from a fruitless quest for the Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot (Luc Simon) tries to break off his affair with Queen Guinevere (Laura Duke Condominas) and prepares for battle with his arch-enemy Mordred (Patrick Bernard).

Genres:

Review:
As I’ve noted in other reviews, I’ll admit to a strong bias against Robert Bresson’s highly stylized approach to filmmaking, in which his actors are explicitly directed to remain expressionless, and Bresson’s own thematically enriched visuals take center stage. While I admire his intentions with this unique approach to the subject matter here (simply check out some of the lengthy user comments on IMDb for a sense of the strategic points he was apparently hoping to make), I’m much more in favor of Eric Rohmer’s alternatively stylized take on the same period and historical figures (1978’s Perceval). With that said, there’s still quite a bit here for all film fanatics (including my own grouchy self) to enjoy and appreciate — such as the power of Bresson’s strategically “cubic” representations of armored body parts, etc., through which one does quickly get a sense of the dreary oppression that dominated this bloodiest of eras. Indeed, the visuals are consistently inventive; all the more shame, then, that his narrative — about guilt and love and shame and God (I think?) — remains so frustratingly opaque. True fans of Bresson will be enamored by Lancelot du Lac; others will simply grow weary and long for clarity.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An effectively stylized rendering of medieval England and Arthurian legend
  • Fine, authentic sets and costumes

Must See?
No, though naturally Bresson fans will want to check it out. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.

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