Lancelot du Lac Review


Morgan Fuerstenberg Graphic

Released in the USA in 1975, “Lancelot du Lac” is a historical drama following Sir Lancelot as he and the remaining Knights of the Round Table return to Camelot. The film was directed by Robert Bresson and was produced in France.

Bresson is a favorite among film lovers for his fanatical nature. However, Bresson is not a political fanatic, a religious fanatic or any other stylish sort of fanatic. His zealotry is for film itself and how it can best be exploited. 

Bresson’s extremist approach (when compared to commercial filmmakers) involved casting non-actors in major roles, using minimal music and rejecting flashy camera movements and editing.

These characteristics of Bresson’s filmmaking make his “Lancelot du Lac” a very peculiar film. Nowhere is spectacle and excitement expected more than in an adaptation of Authorian legend, yet Bresson has little interest in the action or great deeds. 

Lancelot and the knights have failed in their quest to retrieve the Holy Grail. Lancelot believes this is divine punishment for his affair with King Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere. The cowardly Knight Mordred plans on destroying Lancelot by making the affair known to King Arthur. 

The film begins with the knights returning in shame after their failed quest rather than focusing on their numerous adventures. Faced with their own failure, the knights have only their egos and violent tendencies to occupy themselves.

The film is a clear deglamorization of these mythical characters, honing in on their faults and inadequacies. This makes the story a cautionary tale about hubris, one that’s heightened by Bresson’s refusal to imbue the film with any sort of mysticism or reverence.

“Lancelot of the Lake’’ might be off-putting to the average viewer, but the film is very much worth watching for anyone interested in film as well as anyone interested in learning the origin of the “It’s only a flesh wound” joke from Monty Python.

Rated 8/10