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Lancelot of the Lake (1974)

Lancelot du Lac (original title)
A million miles away from 'Camelot' or 'Excalibur', this film ruthlessly strips the Arthurian legend down to its barest essentials. Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving ... See full summary »


Robert Bresson
1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Luc Simon Luc Simon ... Lancelot du Lac
Laura Duke Condominas Laura Duke Condominas ... La Reine (The Queen)
Humbert Balsan Humbert Balsan ... Gauvain
Vladimir Antolek-Oresek Vladimir Antolek-Oresek ... Le Roi (The King)
Patrick Bernhard Patrick Bernhard ... Mordred (as Patrick Bernard)
Arthur De Montalembert Arthur De Montalembert ... Lionel
Charles Balsan Charles Balsan
Christian Schlumberger Christian Schlumberger
Joseph-Patrick Le Quidre
Jean-Paul Leperlier Jean-Paul Leperlier
Marie-Louise Buffet Marie-Louise Buffet
Marie-Gabrielle Cartron Marie-Gabrielle Cartron
Antoine Rabaud Antoine Rabaud
Jean-Marie Becar Jean-Marie Becar
Guy de Bernis Guy de Bernis


A million miles away from 'Camelot' or 'Excalibur', this film ruthlessly strips the Arthurian legend down to its barest essentials. Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving and greedy men who, just before the film starts, have failed miserably to find the Holy Grail. Aimlessly resentful at first, the developing relationship between Lancelot and Queen Guinevere focuses their rage, leading to inevitable tragedy... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy | Romance


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Parents Guide:

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France | Italy



Release Date:

31 May 1974 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Lancelot of the Lake See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Richard Linklater's director of photography Lee Daniel states that this films' long tracking shots had a great influence on the long takes in "Slacker". See more »


Stablemen wear modern time hats and their black trousers have back pocket: they are patently wearing dyed cotton jeans. See more »


Featured in Humbert Balsan, producteur rebelle (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

If nothing else, it's probably the only French New Wave film that begins with a decapitation!
18 February 2002 | by zetesSee all my reviews

I'm still inching into the cinema of Robert Bresson, as I would a hot bath. I saw Pickpocket a couple of months ago. I liked it, but didn't agree that it was a masterpiece of any sort. I picked up Lancelot of the Lake because the video box caught my eye. I didn't expect a French New Wave guy to be directing Medieval drama (I also rented Rohmer's Perceval at the same time, but have not yet watched it), especially Bresson, whom I associate with a certain slowness.

The result is mixed. The film is certainly not entirely successful, but I'd say that it is an extraordinarily interesting film. I have a problem with his decision to erase all emotion from his actors. That works decently in Pickpocket, but not as well here. The story takes place after the Knights of the Round Table have failed to find the Holy Grail. They return defeated. They feel that they have been denied by God himself. And then they begin to doubt themselves, and eventually to turn against each other. The story is one that ought to be imbued with emotions, especially Lancelot and Guinivere. Also, Lancelot's enemies, who are jealous of his affair with the queen more than they are angry on King Arthur's behalf, their rivalry should be readable on their faces. Instead, the actors emote about as much as cardboard cutouts. I guess Bresson is going for naturalism, but he falls way below that mark. Real people have emotions.

On the other hand, Robert Bresson's direction, that is, everything but the acting, is excellent. Most everything works, and there are many masterful sequences. It's perfectly paced (well, that is, if you like his style). The editing is often amazing. The art direction and music are also very good. As for the script, well, it can sometimes be confusing. Once in a while, I got a bit lost. But most of it works really well. 7/10.

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