King Arthur is a 2004 film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character.

The makers of the film claim to present a historically accurate version[1] of the Arthurian legends, supposedly inspired by new archaeological findings. The accuracy of these claims is subject to debate, but the film is unusual in representing Arthur as a Roman officer rather than a medieval knight. It was shot in England, Ireland, and Wales.
Arthur, also known as Artorius Castus (Clive Owen), is portrayed as a Roman cavalry officer, the son of a Roman father and a Celtic mother, who leads a military force of Sarmatian auxiliary cavalry in Britain at the close of the Roman occupation in 467 A.D. He and his men guard Hadrian's Wall against the Woads, a Celtic people who resist Roman rule, based on the historical Picts,[2] led by the mysterious Merlin. He is not the first Arthur — for generations, his ancestors have manned the Wall, leading Sarmatian auxiliaries.

As the film starts, Arthur and his remaining knights Lancelot (whose voiceover is heard at the beginning and end), Bors, Tristan, Gawain, Galahad and Dagonet - are expecting discharge from the service of the Empire after faithfully serving for 15 years (Lancelot's entry into service as a youth in 452 A.D. is depicted at the very beginning of the film). However, on the night they ought to receive their freedom, they are dispatched on a final and possibly suicidal mission by Bishop Germanius in the freezing winter to rescue the important Roman family of Marius Honorius, his wife, and their son, Alecto, who is the Pope's favorite godson (and, according to Bishop Germanius, may be "destined to be Pope one day"), from impending capture by the invading Saxons, who are led by their chief Cerdic and his son Cynric. The knights are charged with this rescue because Rome is withdrawing from Britain, it now being considered an indefensible outpost.

At the remote estate, Arthur explains his mission to Marius, who becomes defensive and refuses to leave his grand home. Marius is revealed to have oppressed his serfs on the pretense of speaking for God. While being shown an elder who is tied up out in the elements for holding back food, Arthur advises that Marius does not speak for God. He frees the elder & tells them all that they were "free from their first breath". Arthur soon discovers Marius has also imprisoned pagans: a Woad with an injured hand, Guinevere (Keira Knightley) and a small boy, Lucan. Arthur frees them and decides to take everyone, along with Marius' family, back to Hadrian's Wall.

Along the journey, Guinevere tells Arthur of the "fairy tales" she'd heard of him, and Arthur is revealed to be half Celt (on his mother's side). Arthur resets the fingers in Guinevere's hand. One night, Guinevere takes Arthur to meet with Merlin, the leader of the Woads. At first, Arthur thinks Guinevere has betrayed him, but Merlin has come in peace. It is revealed in flashback that Arthur's mother had died in a Woad attack when he was a boy. Merlin says that he did not wish for Arthur's mother to die; she was of their blood, as is Arthur. Arthur's famous sword, Excalibur, is also shown to be his father's, which he drew from his father's tombstone (inspiring the legend of the Sword in the Stone) in an effort to rescue his mother. Merlin suggests an alliance between the Woads and the Sarmatian knights, and Arthur leaves in silence.

Along the route one dawn, Marius forces a standoff with his own soldiers, taking the boy Lucan hostage. Hand mended, Guinevere uses a bow to shoot Marius dead; his guards stand down and aid the knights in getting all the people to the wall. Tristan returns from scouting the area and tells Arthur that a whole Saxon army is on the move.

The group soon encounter the Saxons at an ice-covered lake. The knights stay behind to hold up the Saxons and allow the refugees to escape. Greatly outnumbered, Arthur, Guinevere and the knights attempt to repel them with arrows; the battle is won when Dagonet runs to the middle of the ice and breaks it with an axe, at the cost of his life — however, many Saxons are killed.

Struck by Rome leaving its subjects to the mercy of the Saxons, Arthur is further disillusioned when he learns that Bishop Pelagius, whose teachings about the equality of all men inspired the brotherhood of his Round Table — has been executed as a heretic by order of Bishop Germanius himself. In due course, Arthur and his remaining men forsake Roman citizenship and form an alliance with the Woads to fight the Saxons. In the climatic battle, the Battle of Badon Hill, the Woads catapult flaming missiles at the Saxon army, and when they enter battle, Guinevere engages in combat with Cynric. Cerdic fights and kills Tristan, but, just before delivering the final blow, he looks around to make sure that Arthur is watching. Arthur sees Cerdic kill Tristan and rushes to fight Cerdic himself. Meanwhile, Guinevere disarms Cynric and nearly kills him before Lancelot intervenes and duels Cynric alone. While another Saxon captures Lancelot's attention for a moment, Cynric shoots Lancelot with a Saxon crossbow. Though mortally wounded, Lancelot manages to kill Cynric, and he himself dies with Guinevere at his side. Arthur kills Cerdic. The film ends with Arthur and Guinevere's marriage. Merlin then proclaims him to be their king. King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and his remaining knights promise to lead the Britons, united with the defeat of the Saxons and retreat of the Romans, against future invaders. The last scene shows Lancelot, Dagonet and Tristan reincarnated as horses and roaming the lands freely, while Lancelot speaks of the fact that their names will live forever in legend.

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