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Soundscapes of Middle Earth: The Question of Medievalist Music in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Films

from II - Interpretations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Stephen Meyer
Affiliation:
Syracuse University
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Summary

The highly popular combination of cinema and medievalism has produced a plethora of ironies and contradictions, but none is more curious than that which attends the notions of authenticity and historical accuracy. The latest cinematic version of the Arthurian legend – Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur – exemplifies the ways in which these notions may suffuse both the creation and the interpretation of a medievalist film. Keira Knightley's voice-over for the theatrical trailer sets the tone of the movie. “For centuries,” she begins, “countless tales have been told of the legend of King Arthur. But the only story you've never heard is the true story that inspired the legend.” This realistic aesthetic – at least to a certain degree – informs the movie's plot, which jettisons much of the familiar mythos in favor of a rationalist explanation of the legend. Drawing on the work of C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor, Fuqua presents Arthur and his knights as a contingent of Sarmatian cavalry, attempting to defend the last vestiges of Roman rule in Britain from the advancing Saxons. Fuqua thus frames his film as a realist response to the centuries of legend that have encrusted the historical events of the fifth century. Ironically, much of the negative criticism of the film is couched in precisely the same terms.

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Chapter
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Studies in Medievalism XVIII
Defining Medievalism(s) II
, pp. 165 - 187
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2009

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