Friday, June 22, 2018

Entzminger on Army of Darkness

I came across reference to the following article the other day. It should be accessible eventually from JSTOR.

Entzminger, Betina. "Fin de Siecle anxieties and cave endings: Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness." Mark Twain Journal. Spring-Fall, 2017, Vol. 55 Issue 1-2, p100, 13 p.

The publisher includes a synopsis, by guest editor Joseph Csicsila, (posted at http://www.marktwainjournal.com/volume_55A_springandfall.html) as follows:

Betina Entzminger adds to the discussion regarding the influence of Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court on Sam Raimi's 1992 film Army of Darkness. Having discovered that Raimi's original ending for the film (which was changed when the studio requested a more upbeat conclusion) resembles Twain's penultimate Sand-Belt scene with its discordantly dark tone and its cave setting, Entzminger suggests that both works reflect fin de siecle anxieties about the impact of new technologies in a rapidly changing world. 


Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Boy Merlin

I've been tracking down series and films that depict the origins of Merlin as research for my Kalamazoo paper next month. One work I had heard about but never tracked down is the British series The Boy Merlin (launched on the series Shadows in 1978 and then airing for six more episodes as a separate series in 1980). The story is very much inspired by Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and alludes to Merlin as a "fatherless" boy but never (at least not on the episodes online) reveals the truth or falsehood of the incubus story.

The series anticipates a lot of the ideas found in Shine Entertainment's more recent series (2008-2012) with Merlin training as a mage and working to prepare for Arthur and himself to discover their destinies. It is also very similar to Mary Stewart's novel The Crystal Cave published in 1970 (and adapted to film in 1991), but embraces the magical elements of the character rather than rationalizing them.

The pilot from Shadows and three of the six episodes from the series are available on YouTube (see below).




A trailer for the Region-2 DVD set is also online and includes footage from yet another episode. 


Monday, August 14, 2017

Ritchie's King Arthur Now on Video

Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was released to home video this past week. Here are the images from the Blu-ray sleeve showing the cover and extras.






Monday, August 7, 2017

MAPACA Roundtable Update

I am pleased to announce the panelists for our roundtable on recent Arthuriana on screen. Registration information for the conference can be found at https://mapaca.net/conference. Hope to see you there.




New Visits to Camelot: Reflecting on the Contemporary Matter of Britain on Screen (Roundtable)

Session sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture for the Medieval & Renaissance Area of the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association

Organizer/Presider: Michael A. Torregrossa (Independent Scholar)

Guy Ritchie and Michael Bay (Oh My): The Challenges of Contemporary Visions of Camelot on Screen
Michael A. Torregrossa (Independent Scholar) 

Michael A. Torregrossa is a medievalist whose research interests include adaptation, Arthuriana, comics and comic art, medievalism, monsters, and wizards. His founder of both The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain and The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture and serves as Fantastic Area Chair for the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association.

Othering Pagan Archetypes: Reimaginings of Merlin and Morgan le Fay
Rachael Warmington (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

Rachael Warmington is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She earned her B.A. in English from Montclair State University, M.A. in English from Seton Hall University, and her MFA at City College of New York, City University of New York. Rachael is also the editor-in-chief of the open source academic journal, Wachung Review. She is currently focusing on the ways in which early regional and generational variations of Arthurian legend influence contemporary literary, film and television adaptations and appropriations of Arthurian works.

Round Table Revival: The Order: 1886
Carl Sell (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

Carl Sell is PhD student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is interested in all things medieval and Early Modern, and his studies focus on the Arthurian Legend and modern adaptations of the legend as well as adaptations of Robin Hood.
 

CFP ISSM Roundtable on Ritchie's King Arthur (9/1/2017; Kalamazoo 2018)

Wishing them luck:

The International Society for the Study of Medievalism (ISSM) is now seeking papers for three sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 10-13, 2018. Please see our calls for papers below for details. For more information about the conference itself, please visit the Congress website.

http://medievalism.net/conference/issm-at-kalamazoo



King Arthur 2017: A Round Table

Reviews have poured in for Guy Ritchie’s 2017 King Arthur, and some of them are pretty scathing. Chief among audience complaints is the film’s lack of authenticity: the story deviates so radically from medieval literature that Arthurian legend is barely recognizable. However, authenticity has always been a problematic way to evaluate Arthurian retellings. Sometimes called the “original fan-fiction,” medieval Arthurian legend is always revised and recreated to fit the political or cultural needs of a given period. And in fact, Ritchie’s film has been much better received among scholars of the Middle Ages. Participants in this round table will discuss the 2017 cinematic King Arthur and might answer some of the following questions: How do Ritchie’s changes fit into the canon of Arthurian revisions? How does the 2017 film inform meta-theoretical questions of authenticity surrounding Arthur himself? What do Ritchie’s changes tell us about our own cultural moment? Please send abstracts for papers of no more than ten minutes to Amy S. Kaufman (skaufmana at gmail) by September 1, 2017.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hellboy Film Update 8/6/17

A recent report on IGN notes that the upcoming Hellboy film has dropped its subtitle "Rise of the Blood Queen" and will be titled just Hellboy. Details at http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/08/02/hellboy-reboot-casts-ian-mcshane-as-adoptive-father-professor-broom. No word on how this affects the plot.

In related news, creator Mike Mignola comments allusively on his role in transitioning the comic to film in an interview on The Verge. The full text can be accessed at https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/3/16089200/mike-mignola-hellboy-universe-film-reboot-you-know-comics-interview. He refers a few times to the story chosen by the filmmakers but offers no specific details.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ritchie's King Arthur Reviewed at Medievally Speaking

Two further reviews of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword have been posted to the Medievally Speaking site. One is by medieval film scholar Kevin J. Harty and the other is by graduate student (?) Usha Vishnuvajjala. Both can be accessed at http://medievallyspeaking.blogspot.com/.

More on Transformers: The Last Knight

An interesting recent piece on Transformers: The Last Knight:

Godfrey, Alex. “Primed for Success.” Empire Summer 2017: 88-93.

Much of it focuses on director Michael Bay, but there are also some useful details on the development of the Arthurian story for the film. The piece is reproduced online at http://santiagocabrera.net/2017/05/santiago-cabrera-merlin-in-transformers/.

A Second Review of Ritchie's King Arthur

Almost missed this. Here is yet another (negative) review of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Famurewa, Jimi. Empire Summer 2017: 48-49.

Also available online at http://www.empireonline.com/movies/king-arthur-legend-sword/review/.

Another Review of Ritchie's King Arthur

Still collecting print reviews of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Here is one of the latest:

Graham, Jamie. Total Film Summer 2017: 48.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review by Diak

A perceptive review of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword by academic film scholar Nicholas Diak at Fanbase Press. It can be accessed at http://www.fanbasepress.com/index.php/press/reviews/item/7738-king-arthur-legend-of-the-sword-film-review.

CFP Arthurian Session at NeMLA 2018

Arthurian Legend in the 20th & 21st Centuries

Arthurian Legend in the 20th & 21st Centuries

deadline for submissions: 
September 29, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 
Imagining Arthurian Legend in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Nostalgia for an imagined and glorious past has influenced the evolution of stories about King Arthur and his court for centuries.  According to the moods and needs of the period, new characters were added to demonstrate or question the excellence of these paragons, or to replace those who had perhaps become too human or simply gone out of style.  New plot motifs, such as the search for the grail and Lancelot’s love for Guinevere became part of the legend.
The past hundred years has brought the legend of King Arthur to Broadway, television, comedy, and Disney; countless authors have appropriated or reimagined the legend and elements from it. How have films, television shows, games, comics, and books for all audiences and ages employed Arthurian characters, themes, motifs, and plots? How have these changes reflected shifting cultural attitudes and values?  What do recent retellings and appropriations of Arthurian legend tell us about ourselves and the generations immediately preceding us?  What do we want and need from King Arthur and his court?
 Please submit abstracts via the NeMLA website http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html
https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2017/05/27/arthurian-legend-in-the-20th-21st-centuries

Arthurian Legend in the 20th & 21st Centuries

deadline for submissions: 
September 29, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 
Imagining Arthurian Legend in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Nostalgia for an imagined and glorious past has influenced the evolution of stories about King Arthur and his court for centuries.  According to the moods and needs of the period, new characters were added to demonstrate or question the excellence of these paragons, or to replace those who had perhaps become too human or simply gone out of style.  New plot motifs, such as the search for the grail and Lancelot’s love for Guinevere became part of the legend.
The past hundred years has brought the legend of King Arthur to Broadway, television, comedy, and Disney; countless authors have appropriated or reimagined the legend and elements from it. How have films, television shows, games, comics, and books for all audiences and ages employed Arthurian characters, themes, motifs, and plots? How have these changes reflected shifting cultural attitudes and values?  What do recent retellings and appropriations of Arthurian legend tell us about ourselves and the generations immediately preceding us?  What do we want and need from King Arthur and his court?
 Please submit abstracts via the NeMLA website http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html
deadline for submissions: September 29, 2017
full name / name of organization: Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: saustin@landmark.edu

Imagining Arthurian Legend in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Nostalgia for an imagined and glorious past has influenced the evolution of stories about King Arthur and his court for centuries.  According to the moods and needs of the period, new characters were added to demonstrate or question the excellence of these paragons, or to replace those who had perhaps become too human or simply gone out of style.  New plot motifs, such as the search for the grail and Lancelot’s love for Guinevere became part of the legend.

The past hundred years has brought the legend of King Arthur to Broadway, television, comedy, and Disney; countless authors have appropriated or reimagined the legend and elements from it. How have films, television shows, games, comics, and books for all audiences and ages employed Arthurian characters, themes, motifs, and plots? How have these changes reflected shifting cultural attitudes and values?  What do recent retellings and appropriations of Arthurian legend tell us about ourselves and the generations immediately preceding us?  What do we want and need from King Arthur and his court?

 Please submit abstracts via the NeMLA website http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html



Last updated May 30, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On the Watch: Hellboy vs the Blood Queen

Mike Mignola, creator of the Hellboy series, has recently announced the reboot of the Hellboy film franchise with the upcoming film Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen due out in 2018.


There has not been any information released with regards to the plot, but one character in the Hellboy comic referred to as the "Queen of Blood" was a version of Nimue from the Arthurian legends (details at http://hellboy.wikia.com/wiki/Queen_of_Blood). She was featured in a three-series arc that linked Hellboy intimately to the Matter of Britain (see Nathan Harmon's overview at http://sequart.org/magazine/18659/the-sword-in-the-stone-hand-the-arthurian-trends-in-hellboy/). Perhaps this is the story that will unfold in the film.


Bibliography Building: Transformers: The Last Knight

Again, here are the discussions I've come across so far related to Transformers: The Last Knight:



DISCUSSIONS:

Breznican, Anthony. “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Entertainment Weekly 28 April/5 May 2017: 52-53.

“Coming Soon.” Total Film July 2017: 49. 

Farley, Jordan. “Top of the Bots.” Total Film July 2017: 11-13. 

Grove, David. “Hidden History.” SCI FI Magazine August 2017: 56-59.

Bibliography Building: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Here are some articles I've come across about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword:



DISCUSSIONS:

Caranicas, Peter. “From Westeros to Realm of King Arthur's Britain.” Variety 19 Aug. 2014: 123. [Int. with Gemma Jackson, production designer]

Chandler, Abigail. “Warrior King.” SciFiNow No. 132 (2017): 56-59.

Crowther, Jane. “Rookie to King.” Total Film June 2017: 70-75.

McNary, Dave. “Arthur on WB Table.” Variety 10 Mar. 2010: 10.

Sullivan, Kevin P. “The Good Knight.” Entertainment Weekly 19 May 2017: 22. [Profile of actor Djimon Hounsou]

- - -. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Entertainment Weekly 22 July 2016: 50-51.

- - -. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Entertainment Weekly 28 Apr / 5 May 2017: 40.

- - -. “A New King Will Rise.” Entertainment Weekly 27 Jan. 2017: 34-37.

- - -. “The Sword and the Stone-Cold Fox.” Entertainment Weekly 31 July 2015: 20-27.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Can Michael Bay Save Camelot?

Even on the eve of its release, there are still very few details on the plot of Transformers: The Last Knight (perhaps a good thing in light of the reception of Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that bowed last month), and there seem to be no paratextual apparatus besides the toys.

More details to follow as/if they become available.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kalamazoo 2018 Update

The Alliance proposed the following roundtable for the 2018 International Congress on Medieval Studies. I have just learned today that our proposal was rejected.

Michael A.Torregrossa
Founder




Does the Matter of Britain (Still) Matter?:
Reflections on the State of Arthurian Studies Today (A Roundtable)
            The Arthurian legend is now over a millennium and a half old and continues to inspire new creative works each year. However, texts with widespread distribution and/or lasting impact are rare. Consequently, the Matter of Britain now seems very distant from our daily lives.
            The purpose of this session is to explore the reasons for this separation of the stories of Arthur from the popular consciousness. In conceiving this session, we are interested in exploring the answers to several questions. First, why has the Matter of Britain—once an important part of what J. R. R. Tolkien has termed “the cauldron of story”—now become something that is sampled by few artists with the means to promote their work to the larger segment of the global population that once devoured such stories with enthusiasm? Continuing with this idea, do these works, when noticed, not receive acclaim simply because of their creators’ failure to overcome what Norris J. Lacy has termed the “tyranny of tradition” and produce something that is both recognizable and innovative, or has the legend truly become a niche brand, a fascination to a few cognoscenti but something totally off the radar of most individuals? Similarly, when versions of the legend are produced by individuals with the means to create something that transcends the financial and distributive restrictions that hold back other works (and that might thus have the potential to shape how the current generation perceives the Arthurian story), why do they so often not succeed? Have these creators also simply failed to negotiate the tyranny of tradition, or are audiences at large just not interested in Arthur and all that he represents anymore? Lastly, if the legend no longer appeals, what is the future of Arthurian Studies (and Arthurian scholars) in the remainder of the twenty-first century? Should we entrench ourselves and hope for the best, or can we fight for our field and the glory that was Camelot?

The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain is dedicated to study and debate of the representations of the Arthurian legends in all their forms as produced from the Middle Ages through tomorrow. In various incarnations, our organization has been in existence since 2000.