Camelot hardly needs any introduction at this point, unless it’s aimed at those who have to this point dismissed the classic status of the musical, but I’m going to give it one anyway. Built from the Lerner and Loewe production, and now celebrating its 45th Anniversary, it is one of the best musicals to ever grace the big screen. Somewhat surprisingly, among musicals (and classics for that matter) it actually holds up rather well insofar as its ability to engage new audiences.
The story of King Arthur, specifically with “The Once and Future King” as inspiration (and it makes a difference), has rarely been so passionately put forward, and Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, and Franco Nero give performances that are themselves the stuff of legends.
The second to last directorial work of Joshua Logan (Paint Your Wagon, South Pacific, Bus Stop), Camelot shows his obvious hand when it comes to delivering conversations and characters. It’s a far more grandiose production than his norm (and 2 of its 3 Academy Awards are for Art Direction and Costume Design), but his style is still very present. Not least, just in the shift in camerawork and scene construction when we move from action, to conversations, to any of the film’s memorable songs.
Now available, the Camelot 45th Anniversary Premium Blu-Ray Book, is obviously geared toward those long sold on the film itself, and it offers a nice range of features for fans, but it isn’t priced out of the possibility of winning over newcomers.
The biggest sell to the release is simply that it is newly remastered and delivered on Blu-Ray. Among recent releases of classics that bill themselves as “remastered,” this is one of the best. To be honest, it may be that this film has so much to put on display, with its vibrant costumes and lush landscapes, but getting this on a big screen is pretty spectacular. I would actually expect a few details to show up as negatives given something that is often so grand, coming from the late ’60s, but with the exception of a few tiny moments where the shadows don’t look perfect, the video quality here is not going to disappoint anyone. Even those small flaws that exist are unlikely to be noticed by most.
The other real treats here are the 36-page book and the CD Soundtrack sampler. The book is in line with the norm of these things, but is something that I think will be of real value to fans. Going back here to images and the usual “behind-the-scenes” info adds more to the purchase of a classic that people really fall for, as opposed to just throwing a bunch of pictures at any film’s release. Most interesting are the notes on putting various aspects together, including just the labor involved with many facets of production which would be managed in a wildly different way today.
Beyond that, you get a new featurette, Camelot: Falling Kingdoms, which provides an interesting look at the historic relevance of the film, including coverage of the premiere, and a look at its place in the overall attempt to bring life back to Warner Brothers. You also get a commentary track by Stephen Farber, and its an obvious must for any fan of the film. A bit different than the norm, the commentary is by a critic/historian as opposed to someone giving their account of a film they were involved with, but its informative and pretty entertaining. There’s a tendency for these efforts to turn very dry after the first twenty minutes, but this one keeps you involved.
Beyond that, there are a couple of featurettes that have been released on other versions (a behind-the-scenes effort, and another that dives into the story), and theatrical trailers for the film.
These releases can be very hit or miss, and often feel like just another money grab, but this one does the film justice. The bonuses come together to make a great package that any fan will love, and there is plenty added to what has been previously released, but I still feel the value you get just in this remaster shouldn’t be overlooked. Just seeing this one again, this good, is worth the price.
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CAMELOT 45th Anniversary Premium Blu-ray™ Book With a Bonus CD Soundtrack Sampler
Camelot — the musical classic based on the Tony Award®- winning stage production from Lerner and Loewe (“Gigi,” “My Fair Lady”) will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year with a newly remastered Blu-ray™ version.
Based on T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” this lavish film adaptation recalls a fleeting, mythical time of love and chivalry — the reign of King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table. Although torn apart by the conflicts between passion, love, honor and duty, it was a golden era that could have been … and could yet be. Richard Harris (Harry Potter 1 and 2, Unforgiven) stars as King Arthur, with Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus, Letters to Juliet) opposite him as Queen Guinevere and Franco Nero, Redgrave’s current husband (Die Hard 2) as Lancelot. Joshua Logan directed and Jack L. Warner produced.
Winner of three 1968 Academy Awards® (Best Adaptation Scoring, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design), this memorable musical contains numerous unforgettable musical numbers, including “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “What Do The Simple Folk Do?” “The Lusty Month of May,” and, of course, the eminently hummable classic title song.
Camelot’s Special Features include:
- All-New Featurette Camelot: The Fallen Kingdom
- Camelot: The Castle That Never Was
- The Story of Camelot
- The World Premiere of Camelot
- Theatrical Trailer
CD Soundtrack Sampler:
- I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?
- Camelot and the Wedding Ceremony
- How To Handle a Woman
- If Ever I Would Leave You – Love Montage
The oft-told tales of Arthurian legend have always been fertile ground for art. With countless books, fi lms and songs on the subject, there have been many interpretations of Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table, the glories of the kingdom of Camelot and the doomed love triangle of King Arthur, Lady Guenevere and Sir Lancelot du Lac. The musical Camelot, however, remains the most iconic. Consider the historical context of the piece. Originated for the stage in 1960, Camelot coincided with the presidency of a young John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was a big fan of Camelot; he identifi ed with King Arthur and, according to the First Lady, she and the President would often listen to the soundtrack before going to bed at night. Tragically, and ironically, just as Arthur's rule lasted for one brief, shining moment, so did Kennedy's, and the press forever linked the two legendary leaders many hundreds of years apart. Camelot is emblematic of JFK and, as such, it is emblematic of an era.