THE MANY FACES OF KING ARTHUR

The movie King Arthur is to be released this summer, July 7, 2004 to be precise. Originally named Knights of the Round Table, the movie is a fusion of history, drama and of course action.

By Lubna Al-midfa

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Published: Sat 3 Apr 2004, 2:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:31 AM

Antoine Fuqua, who also directed the movie Training Day, directs this movie, which looks like it will resemble the grandeur of the popular Lord of the Rings. The producer is Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Pirates of the Carribean. The screenwriter for the movie is David Franzone who was also the screenwriter for the movie Amistad. The movie is said to be about the legendary figure of King Arthur, his life and the battles fought over the British Isles when the Roman Empire disintegrated. Production of the movie began in June of 2003 and wrapped up in November 2003 and was filmed in Ireland.

There are some who believe that in a distant time there stood the figure and hero, known as King Arthur. There are many who believe he is just a mythical figure, while others still believe in him despite the lack of concrete evidence of him ever actually existing.

There are many historical books dating back to the 6th and 7th Century for historians to dwell on. 'Dwell' is the appropriate word as it was perfectly normal for people at that time to include mystic beasts fighting alongside Arthur and his knights or against them for that matter. Therefore, arriving at a conclusion about the proof of his existence has always been a difficult and complicated task.

Separating fact from fiction is a continuing dilemma for historians searching for the answers. That is probably why there is a legendary Arthur and a historical Arthur.

Legend has it that the name Arthur may be Roman, or even possibly of Celtic origin, coming from the word "artos viros" meaning the bear man, or in Welsh "arthgwyr".

He was the son of Uther. He defeated invaders in numerous battles. According to legend he conquered and created a large empire and eventually went to war with the strongest opposition in those days, the Romans.

It is believed that by the sorcery of the magician Merlin, Arthur's mother was made to believe that the man that approached her was her husband Uther, when in fact it was only someone made to resemble him. The child, Arthur, was then raised in secret. When Uther died and no king was there to rule, Arthur was. The story says that Merlin had placed a sword in a stone, claiming that whoever drew it out would be the destined king. When Arthur did so, it is said that 11 rulers rebelled against him but did not succeed in taking his throne.

The famous roundtable, where Arthur and the knights would supposedly gather to plan their battles was actually a present, given to him by the father of his wife Guinevere.

There is also the legend that one of his knights, Lancelot, became entranced with his wife Guinevere and possibly formed a relationship. But when the secret came to light, Lancelot fled and Guinevere was sentenced to death. However he was able to rescue her. When Arthur followed, the person he left in charge rebelled against him, and so Arthur returned to fight his last battle where he killed his enemy but was deeply wounded himself. His grave was supposedly discovered at Glastonbury in the reign of Henry II (1154-89).

Historically, the debate over the existence of historical Arthur has existed since the Renaissance period. At that time, the monarchs, mainly to keep their reign, defended his persona. They claimed that they were able to trace their lineage back to him and so it is said that they used that to justify their position in society.

The historical Arthur probably did exist as a skilled warrior who battled the Germanic invaders of the late 5th and early 6th century. The reason why the debate of his existence will continue is because in that time period historical figures were exaggerated and fictional figures, that were never even born, were 'historicized'.

Even the actual castle of Arthur is a matter of dispute. Because of scarce archaeological evidence, it is never clear whether he was based in Wales, Scotland or England.

Few proofs direct some light on his actual existence. Historians claim that just as Arthur initiated the British counterattack culminating to the battle of Badon, there is another figure recorded in history who did the same, called Ambrosius Aurelianus. Historians believe that perfect similarity between the two battles means that it is very likely that the deeds of King Arthur cannot be doubted and that the two could be one and the same.

Strangely enough, the other two theories on the origin of Arthur take us back to the legendary Arthur, where the myth tells that his name is of Celtic or Roman origin. Some historians believe that the 2nd century Lucious Artorius Castus is the original Arthur. It is based on the fact that the Latin name Artoriuos would have developed in to Art(h)ur. This is because the "o" of Latin words regularly appeared as the letter "u" in welsh and the endings "ius" were always dropped. Therefore, the name Artorius is changed to Art(h)ur.

The other theory is also based on names and linguistic changes, in that his name might have originated from Artgur, meaning man of bear by 500AD.

As mysterious and complex as the facts are, historians believe this is all proof that a real Arthur did exist but perhaps as a serious warrior rather than a fantasized image. One thing is for sure, which is that Arthur has somehow managed, and successfully for that matter, to be embedded in history, and has remained the focus of many historians to this day. Archeologists are still searching for viable proof. Whether he dates back to the 6th Century or the Middle Ages, his mystery has captivated many.

The movie, set to be released this summer attempts to tackle the historical context of Arthur from the period of the fall of the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages, but is mainly based on the legend. The movie will be a definite magnet for all Arthurian fans and history dwellers.



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