Monday, January 16, 2012

Magical Movie Monday: The Mists of Avalon

This 2001 two part miniseries directed by Uli Edel is a visually stunning adaptation of the best selling book by Marion Zimmer Bradley and is a great inspiration with it's myth and magic for many modern Witches and Pagans.  The story is a wonderful re-imagining of Arthurian legend.  The tale chronicles the story of the women who's power and magic influenced a kingdom and country. 

The story paints the story of very complex characters, the plot full of intrigue, and many twists on the original Arthur stories that really work very well.  Is the film version exactly like the book?  No- but so seldom do screenwriters keep the story the same, for many reasons including time constraints, nonetheless, this is an excellent movie.

I've always been fascinated by the period of time during which the Christian religion moved into previously Pagan areas and began to take over, and this story is all about those elements of change and tension during that transition.   It also is a study in the power struggle between the feminine and masculine powers.
The original "Fam Trad, sitting around the hearth, I looove this room!

The story is told through the eyes of Morgaine, (Julianna Margulies) Arthurs half sister and revolves around her mother Igraine, (Caroline Goodall) and her two aunts Morgaues (Joan Allen) and Viviane.(Anjelica Houston)  She and her brother are taken away at a young age to study because the powers that be have plans for both of them.  They are separated, Arthur goes to study with Merlin, and we follow Morgaine as she travels to the mystical land of Avalon to study the arts and mysteries of the Goddess with Viviane  who is the High Priestess of Avalon also known as The Lady of the Lake.  Viviane has a commanding presence and in this version of the legend outshines the aging Merlin.

Ooooh, I want to visit Avalon!  But I would settle for it's mundane counterpart Glastonbury!

The magical land of Avalon co-exists in the same space as Glastonbury but not in the same realm.  Morgaine grows up there, mastering Vivianes teachings, and before she leaves she is offered to a young man at Beltane for a fertility ritual. 

The two wear elaborate masks, and having not seen each other since childhood, she doesn't realize that the man is Arthur. (Edward Atterton)  Of course, she has concieved Mordred who will end up being raised by Igraines sister the power hungrey Morgaues.
Oooh, litle Mordred, he's so cute!  What a good boy!
After King Uther dies and Arthur claims his right as king.  He is presented with the magic sword Excalibur by Morgaine and Viviane with the agreement to rule in the honor of the Goddess.    But all is not happy in Camelot, when Arthurs wife Christian wife Gwenhwyfar (Samantha Mathis) fails to produce a child, she believes God is punishing her  because she has secretly fallen in love with Lancelot and also for the acceptance of the Pagan religion.  Things become exasperated when in spite of her Christian faith, she desperately asks Morgaine for some magical intervention which manifests unexpectedly with Arthur inviting Lancelot into the king and queens bed, but still no child conceived.
This must have made for an awkward confession for Gwenhwyfar.
Gwenhwyfar increasingly becomes a religious fanatic, and relationships between Avalon and Camelot become hostile.  Then Mordred,(Hans Matheson) now grown, has arrived at Camelot and commences his plans to claim his right as successor to the throne, and more chaos ensues.
Joan Allen as Morgaues and Hans Matheson as Mordred, I think he's hot, his look reminds me of my hubby Dan!

This film is steeped in the haunting melodies of Loreena Mckennit, enchanting in its own right, but then when you add the beautiful costuming and scenery, you have a magical film that is perfectly inspiring! 

I want so many of the costumes in this move!  I heard Anjelica Huston got to keep some of hers, I don't blame her one bit. 

Magical Monday Featured Item:

Otherworld from The Hidden Path Oval Tile Wall Hanging

Otherworld wall tile available in our Etsy shop.

The art on this oval tile is from the "Otherworld" card from my oracle deck The Hidden Path.  This piece shows a woman of the fae directing three swans to open the way to the otherworld.  The scene is very magical and reminicent of the Priestess of Avalon parting the mist. 

This beautiful gloss finish ceramic tile is a beautiful decorative piece to hang on your wall. It measures 4" x 6" and has a hanger on the back for easy display. (Hanger styles may vary) The art for this tile was printed right in our studio and heat pressed by hand fusing the ink into the surface of the tile.



  1. I love this movie so much, it started my addiction to Bradley! I have and ready all of her Darkover books, have 22 of 24 Sword & Sorceress books, and handful of her miscellaneous stories. Book Whore? Totally!! LOL

  2. Yep, I have no room in my house for any more book, yet, I keep buying them! LOL

  3. This is one of my favorite movies. I just had to have it on DVD. And have the book too (as well as a few others by her).

  4. This is a favorite movie at our house, and it's one I most often recommend to people curious about paganism, the goddess, and the transition to Christianity. I love being able to see the world and this time period through a woman's eyes, and the association that I can make with these characters is almost like a bonding. Great post, Mickie.

  5. Amethyst, you are right on! It is a very good example!

  6. I absolutely love this movie too. Great post! :)

  7. Really Good Post!

    Are you looking Magician in Michigan? Entertainer in Michigan .

  8. I love this movie :D This is the best one about King Arthur. Even if the move is far different from the book it's still amazing :D The music is more from Aeone than from Loreena Mckennit, but they're both glorious singers.

  9. This is one of my favorite films. Excellent cast, great costumes and sets. I know that the film is more about fantasy and myth than historical accuracy, but it does contain historical inaccuracies. Examples: spinning wheels with foot treadles didn't exist until the 17th century. Fireplaces in the period in which the movie seems to be set (early Middle Ages) would have been found in the middle of the largest room or great hall, not set into a wall. My noticing things like this don't detract from the film at all really. Sometimes the brain has to step aside for the "heart", and The Mists of Avalon really speaks to the latter.


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