King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
“Women speak for less than 4 minutes in a film that runs 2 hours and 6 minutes long.”
Title: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Director: Guy Ritchie 👨🏼🇬🇧
Writers: Story by Joby Harold 👨🏼🇬🇧 and David Dobkin 👨🏼🇺🇸, screenplay by Guy Ritchie 👨🏼🇬🇧, Joby Harold 👨🏼🇬🇧, and Lionel Wigram 👨🏼🇬🇧
Reviewed by Li 👩🏻🇺🇸
Guy Ritchie’s latest film is a snooze-fest. While his stop-and-go, stylized action suited earlier works Lock, Stop and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000)—films that felt exciting twenty years ago—his aesthetic has barely evolved and neither has it aged well, looking hokey and trite in 2017′s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Peter Travers writes for Rolling Stone that when you “apply his fast cuts and jagged pacing to the Arthurian legend and you get, well, a brutal, bleedin' mess....King Arthur is an epic bore that believes if you make a movie long and loud and repetitive enough, audiences will conclude it's saying something profound. Wrong.”
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? NO
- By the time the title screen appears in King Arthur, two women have been murdered: the wives of villain Vortigern (Jude Law) and King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) are sliced and diced for male narratives.
- On dialogue, women speak for less than 4 minutes. The film’s running time: 2 hours and 6 minutes.
- No two women exchange a single word with each other.
- While women do make several appearances in background scenes, they are seldom heard from and often depicted as prostitutes.
- The one female who receives a neutral role is The Mage, played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. Despite having incredible powers and the ability to control enormous, monster snakes, her sole purpose is to restore Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) to the throne.
Giving credit where it’s due, Ritchie’s film includes people of color in a way that few other Arthurian adaptations have bothered to attempt. Future Knights of the Round Table include:
- Bedivere, played by Djimon Hounsou who is black (originally from Benin)
- George, played by Tom Wu who is East Asian (originally from Hong Kong)
- Tristan, played by Kingsley Ben-Adir who is mixed-race (English and Moroccan)
That being said, their appearances are minimal in what is otherwise the Vortigern and Arthur show. The knights play subservient roles, ever loyal to their blond-haired, blue-eyed king.
Mediaversity Grade: F 1.75/5
Visible efforts were made to cast with racial diversity, but their inclusion is skin-deep while women are dumped in the bin altogether. Add to the heap that this film is almost miraculously dull for such a flashy affair, what you get is a retro, straight white male fantasy which translated into a dud at the box office. Despite a $175 million production budget, King Arthur only grossed $39 million domestically in what was perhaps the biggest flop of the year. Ouch.