Parents' Guide to


By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Epic King Arthur saga with illicit affairs and brutality.

Movie R 1981 143 minutes
Excalibur Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

Explicit, violent, visually stunning film

Parents should know that one of the early scenes in this movie is a violent rape. There is a great deal of violence and gore. There are appealing characters in this film, but no role models — Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot are all famously unsympathetic, and their selfishness undoes Camelot. Merlin and Morgan are the most watchable characters in the story, but Morgan is evil and Merlin is ultimately ineffectual. It is a visually impressive and interesting film, but not for kids.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
age 14+

Excellent Arthurian version, but full of violence and sex

The Arthurian legend is packed with violence and peppered with sex, and this film skimps on neither. Still, there is really only one scene that is completely inappropriate for older pre-teens: a sex scene, very early on, that's pretty much rape. Makes perfect sense in the story, but it is definitely too intense for under-13. If you can fast forward past that, there's just some discreetly obscured nudity and implied coupling. However, there is still lots of bloodly, limb-hacking combat. Again, it fits the story and subject matter perfectly -- and it's light-years from the gratuitous sadism of moden horror movies -- but it's unflinchingly realistic, so be warned. This is, by far, the best version of the Arthurian legend ever put on film, but it is meant for adults. Mature mid-teens, maybe, but I'd go no younger.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (3):

Don't expect this to be a modern "thrill ride" action epic crowd pleaser, but what such a saga would look like if some bard from 1100 A.D. or so hopped into a time machine to go to film school. The story of Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and Lancelot has been done so often, in print and on film (even as a Broadway musical and a devastating spoof) that Excalibur filmmaker John Boorman must have decided not to waste time/dialogue evoking the iconic characters as real people. Only Merlin, a capering, trickster-like creature (providing the lone comic relief) has a personality; the rest of the cast (such distinctive actors as Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, and Gabriel Byrne, anonymously encased in armor) are as flat as figures in a tapestry, perhaps intentionally so. Emphasis is instead on the Celtic natural-world backdrop -- the mythic, emerald-green Irish shooting locations -- and a medieval mindset of brutal violence, might making right, and paganism (just barely) surrendering to Christianity.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate