(Release Info London schedule; February 15th, 2019, Empire Walthamstow
The Scene, 267 High Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 7FD, 10:25 AM)
"The Kid Who Would Be King"
Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic adventure "The Kid Who Would Be King". Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles on the mythical 'Sword In The Stone', 'Excalibur'. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Patrick Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.
Alex is a modern kid on the cusp of adolescence who, feeling like a nobody, is starting to become a little cynical about the world around him. Alex lives with his mum (Denise Gough) and she can’t really spend that much time with him because she has to work. He’s quite disillusioned because his dad’s left them, and he and his one friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) get bullied at school. He thinks there’s no hope, and life’s not going to get any better, he’s just another nobody kid. When you’re at that age, you're trying to figure out what the world is and what you've to do to get ahead in it. You start to see a connection between what kind of circumstances you’re born into and where you might end up. So, at the beginning of the movie, when Alex gets punished after trying to save his friend from being bullied, he realizes that however righteous and noble you try to be, the world can still be unjust. But then obviously when he stumbles across the sword everything changes. When he finds 'The Sword In The Stone', the books Alex has read about the myth of 'Excalibur' convince him that he’s the once and future king. But possessing the sword doesn’t actually help him that much. It’s not as if the government is suddenly going to acknowledge his position, it’s not as if there isn’t already a royal family. And the immediate obstacle in front of him is to deal with these undead knights that rise up out of the ground and try to take the sword from him. So he’s a perfectly normal kid who’s suddenly thrust into this massive adventure, while also trying to fill the shoes of 'King Arthur', who himself found 'Excalibur' when Britain was a lost and leaderless place.
Arthur’s teacher, the wizard Merlin, is among the most famous characters in literature and the prototype for many characters in popular culture, including Obi-Wan Kenobi as well as Dumbledore and Gandalf. Like the legendary Merlin, the film’s Merlin is a combination of energies, he’s incredibly wise and mystical but also playful and a little bit subversive, capable of lying, manipulating and tricking you. Merlin is a very important character in the movie, because he has to have real presence and charisma. He appears in moments of great crisis, when the kids need to be inspired, frightened, or emboldened by the presence of an authoritative, grown-up wizard. Bedders, Alex’s best friend, is based on Sir Bedivere, one of 'King Arthur’s' most loyal knights. Bedders is completely devoted to Alex and very earnest. Whereas Alex is full of doubts and quite cynical, Bedders is still very much a kid. He still believes in all the fantasies and legends of childhood fiction, and is desperate for them to be real. When they actually become real, he’s both thrilled and terrified. Bedders is the kid that clings onto childhood when all his friends are turning their backs on that and heading into adulthood. He’s the sort of friend you might suddenly find yourself a little bit embarrassed by when you start to enter adolescence. He's vulnerable and sweet, but over the course of the story transforms into a kick-ass hero.
Lance (Tom Taylor), who starts out as a bullie, are inspired by the legendary Sir Lancelot. In 'Arthurian Legend', Lancelot is quite a confused character. He’s this incredibly capable knight, who can’t find an adversary worthy of him in battle, until he comes across Arthur. Only then does he find somebody who's worthy of his loyalty. But he ends up betraying Arthur by having an affair with his wife Guinevere (Genevieve O'Reilly) and in so doing causes Camelot to disband. Like Lancelot, our Lance is also confused, a combination of loyalty, betrayal, heroism, and dastardliness. At the beginning of the film he’s a bully, but there are reasons why. His parents are absent and just send him money. That’s how his parents have always shown their love to him, so at school he just goes around bullying kids for money because that’s the only way he knows how to feel like anything. He has poise and good looks, but he doesn’t know what to do with his power, so he misuses his attributes for evil. He bullies people and is pompous and arrogant, following this bad path all the way through to the middle of the movie, where he realizes how foolish he’s been. The presence of the sword and the adventure they’re on make him figure out the error of his ways and he ultimately becomes one of Alex’s most loyal knights.
Like the Sir Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) of legend, the films Kaye is someone who's arrogant and haughty but also sycophantic. Beholden to Lance, she's afraid to assert her intelligence and become independent in her own right. Kaye is a clever girl, who doesn’t really get the chance to express that until later in the story when she realizes that Lance has drawn them both down this dead-end path. Kaye is this strong female, very blunt and straight forward, but really she’s just a normal teenage girl. She doesn’t really care about what you've to say in a conversation, she just says what she says, and walks away. She has her cheeky moments, and she’s got a lot of attitude. So, she emerges as somebody who is using her talents for bad purposes, realizes the error of her ways, and becomes an extremely capable, brave, and loyal knight by the end of the movie.
One of the most vivid characters in the legend is the sorceress Morgana, 'King Arthur’s' half-sister and illegitimate offspring of a magical birth. Because she has had her inheritance and the sword taken away from her, she becomes evil, jealous, and covetous of the sword, which she believes is rightfully hers. Morgana is trapped by Arthur and Merlin underground, bound into the bowels of 'The Earth' by magic, where she remains dormant for centuries. In the script, goodness is diminishing in the world. People are becoming more selfish, and nations have grown increasingly divided. It's this shift towards darkness, as well as a total solar eclipse, that gives Morgana the strength to break free and return. When she discovers the sword has come back, she immediately wants it, and seeks to destroy whoever has it. There’s an expectation these days for villains to have terrific complexity, and to be very sympathetic, which sometimes robs them of a certain level of menace. She's a character who has her reasons for being evil, but is essentially a bad person, with these terrifying abilities to shape-shift and transform into other creatures. Also, she thinks she’s going to have a very easy time, because she’s fighting kids, but doesn’t really bargain for the strength and perseverance of the army of young knights that assembles to fight her.
Based on one of the most famous myths of all time, "The Kid Who Would Be King" approaches the legend of 'King Arthur' and his knights in a completely new way, bringing it into the modern world and making it relevant for contemporary audiences. The sword 'Excalibur' coming out of a bathtub; the juxtaposition of the domestic and the modern with the ancient myth. Whoever was able to pull the sword from the stone became king. But how can that fitted in with today’s 'British' royal family. There's one of the world’s great love stories, that of Guinevere and Arthur, and Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. The language is so vivid and unusual, and yet very characteristic of the period Mallory was writing about. That, and the whole philosophy of how the power of good can triumph over evil. How in the world, and this is in, you've to be on the lookout for those people or creatures who seek to destroy all that's good. The idea behind this movie is that myths and legends like the story of 'King Arthur' don’t have a huge amount of basis in historical fact. They’re written and rewritten to suit the needs of the time, and in fact, it’s important that different generations rewrite legends anew for themselves.
The heart of the film is based on the chivalric code that the wizard Merlin teaches young Arthur in the legend. It's about an ordinary boy who discovers 'The Sword In The Stone'. This is the set of laws that 'King Arthur’s' knights abided by, which dictated earnest moral behavior, honoring the people you love, persevering, refraining from offense and telling the truth. The film takes that moral code and applies it to modern kids, to see what it's value is in today’s worldm The kids in this movie go on a journey from being a little bit rough-and-tumble, rude and angry with each other, to a place where they understand the value of that basic moral code and apply it to their modern world. There's also a message for kids that explains the value of these ancient ideals, that they might have some relevance to the way we live today. The magic in this film isn’t the sort of sparkly, spangly, escapist magic that we’re used to seeing in fantasy films. Instead of romanticized ancient spell books and magic wands, our magic is much more physical and practical. When something transforms in the movie you can really feel it. When Merlin performs magic, it’s by intricate combinations of hand movements that create a physical impact on the characters and environment nearby.
Whil there have been many films which explore Arthurian legend, we've never seen the story of Arthur as a modern piece, with up-to-date young kids in hoodies and sneakers, with modern, makeshift armor on top of it. It’s a fantastic mixture of old and new, clashing and complimenting in a way which is lovely. An incredibly cinematic, beautiful, man-made hill, part burial mound and part who knows what, with these crazy, beautiful contours, that has an extraordinary history, and is very tied into biblical and Arthurian mythology. There’s a whole culture of mysticism and exoticism based around it but hasn’t really been seen in a movie before now.