Lancelot of the Lake (Lancelot du Lac) (1974)



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Movie Info

This haunting drama from the brilliant French director Robert Bresson presents a disturbing, de-romanticized vision of the illustrious Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table. Instead of the selfless, ever-chivalrous mythic figures they are said to be, Bresson depicts them as savage, avaricious men who will stop at nothing to have all they desire. The story begins as the disillusioned Knights return from their unsuccessful bid for the Holy Grail. Along the way back to England, the knights engage in bloody excursions and often fight amongst themselves. When they reach Camelot, Lancelot endeavors to resume his affair with Guinevere. This causes more in-fighting and eventually leads to Lancelot being banned from King Arthur's court.


Critic Reviews for Lancelot of the Lake (Lancelot du Lac)

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4)

The whole film is shot in compellingly austere colors and a rapt gaze sweeping downward from the sky and ending, horrifyingly fixed on armored bodies lying in the mud.

Feb 5, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

It's stunningly beautiful, mesmerising, exhausting, uplifting, amazing -- all the things you could possibly expect from a masterpiece.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

The style is intact but the content is missing.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/5

It belongs with Pickpocket and Au hasard Balthazar at the highest level of Bresson's achievement.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Aa depiction of a profound mood of loss and passing.

Sep 6, 2017 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Bresson's stripped-to-the-bone adaptation eschews the traditionally heroic, spectacular, fabulous, and exaltedly romantic aspects of the legendary saga in order to lay bare the confusion and pain within the human soul.

Aug 28, 2006 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lancelot of the Lake (Lancelot du Lac)


Robert Bresson's low-budget attempt to de-romanticize the King Arthur myth has no romance, no gallantry, no smiles, almost no score and just a smidge of what might be called "acting." Instead, the film is mostly about Bresson's strange obsession with incidental sound. Lasting impressions of this film are not about dialogue or plot, but rather rattling armor and listless, unnaturally loud footsteps trudging across forest duff and castle floors. Not exactly compelling. Violence usually occurs off-camera, though the bloody opening minutes can't help but evoke Monty Python & the Holy Grail's notorious "only a flesh wound" scene. The homely, untrained cast is just another way to rob the viewer of any easy pleasures. The story itself skips all the glories of Arthur's court and picks up after the failed search for the Grail, so the mood is nothing but bleak. Approach at your own risk, and don't bother bringing a shrubbery.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer


Returning empty handed in his two-year search for the Holy Grail after having made a wrong turn somewhere, Lancelot(Luc Simon) is given a warm welcome back from King Arthur(Vladimir Antolek-Oresek). Mordred(Patrick Bernhard) emerges from the shadows just long enough to remind everybody that he told them so, before slinking back to his hole. All Queen Guinevere(Laura Duke Condominas) wants to know is why her knight, Lancelot, is not wearing her ring anymore. To start, "Lancelot of the Lake" takes an intriguing approach to violence, with the only graphic detail in its opening sequence(if it looks familiar, it should be pointed out that "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was made the following year), before pretty much avoiding it for the rest of the film, which speaks volumes to the knights' worthiness, considering their history of bloodshed and pillaging. This film is set during the downward slide of Arthur's rule, as he has no wish to replace any fallen knights. Otherwise, the movie can be talky, focusing more on relationships, which confirms the eternal power of this venerable tale.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

i love the tales of king arthur, from excalibur to monty python :P this is of course the most minimalist version possible. and it's bloody! those who've seen a bresson film will know what to expect. for the rest, read bort16's review; i think he's said it all

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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