First Encounter Between Lancelot & Guenivere in "The Legend of King Arthur"

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About this sample


Words: 1199 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Jan 8, 2020

Words: 1199|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Jan 8, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Discussion
  3. Works Cited:


Arthurian Legend refers to a group of tales in numerous languages recounting the escapades of King Arthur of Britain, his kingdom, and the knights in his inner circle. The legend has been told over centuries, and remains popular in modern times, brought to life in numerous films. The wide range of films available for one tale, the Legend of King Arthur, from different storytellers targeting different audiences in different eras implies that there are bound to be diverse renditions of the story. Therefore, considering the strong influence of films, in comparison to texts, it becomes necessary to examine differences between depictions of medieval tales, whether for accuracy or simply to examine how modern society perceives history and literature from the past Williams.

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While the first meeting between Lancelot and Guenivere in John Boorman's 1981 Excalibur presents a stoic and archetypical “knight in shining armor” like in The Lancelot-Grail Reade, bound by his duty to the King, in Jerry Zucker’s 1995 First Knight, the Lancelot a more modern, charming “adventure-seeker” in the woods with no allegiance to not only anyone but also to any ideals.

This essay, therefore, will explore parallels and contrasts between characters in The Lancelot-Grail Reader: Selections from the Medieval Arthurian Style and depictions in two medieval movies, including Excalibur and The First Knight, with the aim of illustrating how medieval movies vary in their depiction of history.

In Excalibur, at their first meeting, Lancelot arrives and is received enthusiastically by an acquaintance at Guinevere’s residence. “Here is Arthur’s greatest knight… he’s come to escort you to the King”, the acquaintance animatedly announces Lancelot’s arrival (Boorman). When Guinevere learns of Lancelot’s presence, she rushes to see him, as if she has heard of him before. She is excited, and it shows on her face. Lancelot on the other hand, is disinterested. He looks up at her and hardly acknowledges her presence. In the entire scene, none of the two utters a word. He walks away. He is more focused on the duty ahead of escorting Guenivere to his King. Most notably, Lancelot emerges in full regalia. He is a typical “knight in shining armor”. It could be his appearance that excites Guinevere so much. I

n the following scene, as Lancelot and Guenivere ride side by side, women giggle in excitement at the appearance and mannerisms of Lancelot. He is the typical “knight in shining armor” that “every woman” dreams about. Guenivere is highly interested to learn about Sir. Lancelot’s life. She curiously engages Lancelot, asking him if he fancies any of the women gawking at him. However, Lancelot’s response is quite disappointing. So, disheartening are Lancelot’s words that she falls back, dejected. Lancelot emphatically states that he is “sworn to the quest”. He adds, “I will love you always. I will love you as my queen, and as the wife of my best friend, and while you live I will love no other” (Boorman). He is sworn to a cause and is honorable. This is similar to the Lancelot in The Lancelot-Grail Reader: Selections from the Medieval Arthurian Style.

In First Knight, Guenivere and Lancelot meet following an ambush on a caravan transporting Guenivere and her companions. Guenivere manages to escape but the assailants soon catch up with her as she tries to hide in a thicket. Out of nowhere, Lancelot grabs her and covers her mouth so that she does not make any sound and attract the attention of the assailants. Eventually, there is a scuffle, a fight. Lancelot kills all the members of the raiding party and saves Guenivere.

Guenivere is amazed at his skills, his charm, and why he would risk his life to save hers. In the First Knight, Lancelot, at their first meeting, is a regular citizen going about his own business in the forest, when he chances on the caravan and the raiders. He wears no armor and does not seem to be duty bound to do anything. He is a wanderer, an adventurer, and a showman whose only goal in life is to meet a swordsman who is a worthy opponent. “As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, somewhere, there is a man better than me”, he teases in one scene (Zucker).

Lancelot in The First Knight is more modern. This could be partly because the movie is released a decade later than Excalibur. Major differences between the two movies are discernible in Lancelot’s character and behavior. In Excalibur, he is a “knight in shining armor”, he is duty bound, and does not have time for distractions. Conversely, in the First Knight, Lancelot is a mere wanderer with no honor. Lancelot in Excalibur is sworn to serve his King. He is selfless. Lancelot in First Knight is self-centered and motivated only by his interests, at least until he meets Guinevere. “I don’t know about honor,” he admits to Guenivere (Zucker).


Adaptations of historical legends, in the form of films, are bound to present slightly or immensely varying accounts of the events, especially if they are released in different eras, and inevitably, if they are directed by different persons, and target varying audiences. Such movies are hardly accurate in their depiction of events, since the messages and images presented are influenced by numerous factors, including defining events at the time of production, feelings of nostalgia in the authors or directors, as well as a need to meet the diverse expectations of equally disparate audiences Williams.

According to Beatie, although Excalibur attempts to retell the entire Arthurian biography, it failed simply because the medium in question, film, could not capture all the details. Similarly, according to Grindley, both Excalibur and First Knight are highly inaccurate, despite the differences between them. Grindley argues that accuracy in medieval films is impossible. In addition, people who care enough to judge such films for accuracy can never be satisfied and many more audiences would hardly notice the inaccuracies within the accounts (Grindley).

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In Excalibur, Lancelot is the quintessential knight in shining armor. He is honorable and sworn to service to the King, just as depicted in The Lancelot-Grail Reader. Conversely, in First Knight, he is a wanderer with no allegiance to any one or any ideals. It seems that films cannot capture as much detail as texts, and films are at more liberty to be imaginative. In addition, films can hardly be accurate. They are influenced by numerous factors ranging from the texts used to draw them up, the directors’ whims, to audiences’ expectations. In addition, medieval movies, as historical accounts, may never satisfy medievalists and enthusiasts with regard to accuracy, and many more individuals in audiences will not discern deviations from the “true account”.

Works Cited:

  1. Beatie, Bruce A. "Arthurian Films and Arthurian Texts: Problems of Reception and Comprehension." Arthurian Interpretations (1988): 65-78. Print.
  2. Excalibur. Dir. John Boorman. Warner Bros. Pictures, 1981. FilmFirst Knight. Dir. Jerry Zucker. Perf. Richard Gere, Sean Connery and Julia Ormond.
  3. Columbia Pictures, 1995. Film.Grindley, Carl James. "Arms and the Man: The Curious Inaccuracy of Medieval Arms and Armor in Contemporary Film."
  4. Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 36.1 (2006): 14-19.
  5. Print.Williams, David. "Medieval Movies." The Yearbook of English Studies 20 (1990): 1-32. Print.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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First Encounter Between Lancelot & Guenivere In “The Legend Of King Arthur”. (2020, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
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