Urban Cinefile
"I really want to make films about things that obsess me personally, and characters and stories that obsess me personally."  -Director, Bruce Beresford
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 12, 2018 

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A time long ago when magic was fading in influence, the malevolent sorceress Mab (Miranda Richardson), helped bring into the world a half-mortal boy, Merlin (Sam Neill), to keep the power of the old ways alive. When Merlin reached adulthood and his magic powers surfaced - in the dramatic rescue of the beautiful Nimue (Isabella Rossellini) - Mab claimed him for her purposes. But Merlin fell in love with Nimue and turned away from Mab’s dark magic. Anxious to find a good king for England, Merlin plants the magic sword, Excalibur, in a giant stone for the right man to take it. He finds the child who grows up and becomes a young warrior, the one who is able to take Excalibur and become the legendary King Arthur. Merlin pledges his mystic skills to Arthur’s visionary cause of bringing peace and justice to the realm haunted by monsters and ravaged by war. However, Mab has other plans.

"Merlin takes us on an enchanting, delectable journey into mystical lands where sorcery and dragons are a part of everyday life. This production has all the grace, charm, adventure and imagination that appeals to the entire family, in a mystical land where good and evil is hindered or assisted by wizzardry and magic. This story takes a new slant on the age-old favourite tale of Camelot and King Arthur, putting a human face on the mythical character of Merlin, and allowing him to stand as a character in his own right. The cast is simply marvellous, with Sam Neill at his very best in a role which uses his every asset to advantage. Miranda Richardson is striking as Mabs an the Lady of the Lake, Isabella Rossellini lovely as Nimue, while Martin Short and Helena Bonham Carter are both knockouts in roles that use their comedic skills. Just as good storytelling from books can capture and whisk us away to other lands, Merlin puts the magic back into film-making, and delivers hours of absorbing and delightful for the young at heart."
Louise Keller

"Legend has it that love, truth, honour, loyalty and decency are man’s supreme attributes. Indeed, legends have a lot to do with sustaining those notions, and the legend of Camelot is one. In appealing to our higher instincts, the legend that Merlin relates here is enormously appealing for its humanity, and the way the filmmakers tell it is both wondrous, magical, sensitive and very entertaining. But is the depth of this work – from story, script and production to music, casting and performance - that gives us the substance that makes this video version so satisfying. Made with a combo of English and American elements, the production is both large and intimate, epic yet personal. That’s why it sustains for its three hours, without commercial breaks. Steve Barron’s direction marries the elements of legend – from magic to superstition and the historical - with the sensibilities that today’s audiences understand, without cheapening any of them. One gets the feeling that the story and its telling actually matters to everyone involved. On top of that, there is the story itself, a rounded, fulfilling drawing together of the shards we know of the legend of Merlin, Camelot, Arthur/Lancelot/Guenivere – with newly discovered dimension. It is complex enough to own."
Andrew L. Urban

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CAST: Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter, Martin Short, Miranda Richardson, Isabella Rossellini, Rutger Hauer, - with Sir John Gielgud, and the voice of James Earl Jones

DIRECTOR: Steve Barron

PRODUCER: Dyson Lovell

SCRIPT: Ed Khmara and David Stevens


EDITOR: Colin Green

MUSIC: Trevor Jones

CREATURE EFFECTS: Jim Henson’s Creature Shop

RUNNING TIME: 194 minutes

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