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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,882,692  

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Question of the Week: 51 - 7/23/2001

What Did You Think of 'The Mists of Avalon"?

What did you think of the TNT mini-series, 'The Mists of Avalon'? How well did it compare with the book? Were you happy or disappointed with the interpretation? Even if you have not read the book nor seen the movie, what do you think about the Arthurian Legends? Why are they so enduring? Which Arthurian Legend character most speaks to you and why? Do you think that there is a real-life historical basis for the Legends?

 Reponses:   There are 44 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Sadly I Can Not Comment On The Movie Itself, I Couldn't Get... Jul 24th. at 7:00:32 pm EDT

El-Sharra WhiteRaven (Brantford, Ontario CA) Age: 23 - Email

sadly i can not comment on the movie Itself, I couldn't get it up here in Canada. But I did want to make a statement about wether or not the Legends were based in fact. I belive that there were historical figures that were merged through time with mythological archtypes to create the legends we know now. I also belive that it dosn't matter wether or not a man named Arthur ever walked the earth, the belife that humanity has and has had in him for hundreds of years makes him real and makes him powerfull. To paraphrase Patricia Kennealy-Morrision (author of the Keltiad series- spectacular) he has written his name on the walls of legend in letters of fire and there is nothing that can ever erase that

Review From A Pagan's Coworker: "it Was Boring; Where Was All The... Jul 24th. at 8:11:40 pm EDT

Lynne-Renee (rural STL, Missouri US) Age: 29 - Email

Review from a pagan's coworker: "It was boring; where was all the hocus pocus? I mean, the Lady of the Lake is supposed to be an underwater goddess. (Snort) She was just a *Priestess*! That's not the real story! And hey, everybody was goody-goody. It just wasn't realistic."

In a great fit of exasperation I'm afraid I said, "That's the point, dumbass." Not very nice of me, but it's a filial kind of relationship. I explained that in fact, it showed more of how people did worhip, learn and live their lives following the Old Ways than say, "The Witches of Eastwick." "Jim, did ya think the Pope *really* was the great-great...grandson of St. Peter?"

I can't believe pagans came off as well as we did on t.v. Cheers

I Was Thrilled To See A Well Written, Well Acted, Well Produced... Jul 25th. at 1:55:26 am EDT

Tara Miller (Cape Girardeau, Missouri US) Age: 25

I was thrilled to see a well written, well acted, well produced epic that had main characters who were Pagan. Let's hope it isn't the last!

What I Saw Of It,i Loved It. I Just Wished It... Jul 25th. at 3:45:08 am EDT

Brandy (Fort Myers/Lehigh Acres, Florida US) Age: 25 - Email

What I saw of it, I loved it. I just wished It was longer. I knew about the book for some time but never read it. I will be purchasing it very soon.

Now Don't Think Me Daft, But I Actually Cried During Morgaines Initiation... Jul 25th. at 4:35:54 am EDT

Pentalpha. (Brooklyn, New York US) Age: 50

Now don't think me daft, but I actually cried during Morgaines initiation scenes. I couldn't believe that the Goddess and magick were being portrayed in such a positive light. Witches hats off to Uli Edel and the entire cast for an entertaining and positive portrayal of Paganism.

Well, Let Us Start At The Top. I Really Liked The Mini-series... Jul 25th. at 12:06:43 pm EDT

Serena Kara (Savannah, Georgia US) Age: 24 - Email

Well, let us start at the top. I really liked the mini-series, they answered some questions that I had, and also made some really good points. I think that towards the end, they started to get pushed for time, and skimped some. But they had to take quite a book and skinny it down for 3 hours. So all in all they didn't do that bad. I haven't read the book yet, but with the movie out now I diffently want to. And probably will here shortly.
The King Arthur legends are a small piece of ourselves. We see some small glimmer of what we are looking for in each person. They, the characters, are all people that we can relate to. Besides that it has all the things that a good story is looking for. It has love, betrayal, war, wicked sisters, and a hero. It is not a story that is going to be hidden any time soon. But as to whether or not they actually stem from a real person? Humm, I think that some of the things told might be real. Then there are some things that have been made up, or elaborated on. You have to figure the things that we call myths now have been passed down through word of mouth. Some things are libal to stay the same and some things are going to be different.
I think that Morgan La Faye is the one that says the most to me. With the different story's telling that she was a priestess and then a some what wicked woman. She goes through a total closet of costumes, through the myths.

I Enjoyed The Movie Immensely. As Many, I Have Not Yet Read... Jul 25th. at 7:04:03 pm EDT

Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 25 - Email

I enjoyed the movie immensely. As many, I have not yet read the book. I find that that is a boon when watching a movie based on a book, nothing to be disappointed about.
I once took a class on medieval literature, and there was one point of difference in this story from the other, many, Arthurian legends that I found refreshing. Historically, Arthurian women are either perfect, pure, and virgins; or scheming, evil, out-to-get-what-they-can bitches. There were no middle levels. Here, every woman had bad points to them, they all did their share of "sinning." In fact, there were only two really bad guys, Morguose and Mordred. I liked that the women, for the most part, were realistic, multidimentional beings.

Even Julianna Margulies (actress For Morgaine) Said That The Movie Needed 12... Jul 26th. at 2:10:28 am EDT

Calypso (Billings MT// NC, Montana US) Age: 30

Even Julianna Margulies (actress for Morgaine) said that the movie needed 12 hours, not 4. She also mentioned that every woman she knew had approached her about this project, ecstatic that the book was finally getting TV time. (WHAT TOOK SO LONG!!?????!!!!!) I agree - NOT ENUF TIME for the movie. Ms. Bradley's novel is so geniusly executed...Too many threads were lost in the movie, threads which explained more thoroughly the multiple motivations driving the characters. There was too little character development, and it relied far too heavily on stereotypes, tho certainly not to any extent that Hollywood usually relies. Altho there was more balance to the presentation of the Craft, I was still pretty sensitive about the "She's just an evil old sorceress!" accusation, and some rather pat explanations. I do understand, however, that in our circle at least one woman was able to watch it with her husband, who had been giving her sudden and unexpected problems about her evenings with "that demonic cult, " and he became much more open to her beliefs. I hope that, despite its many shortfalls, the film opened the way for greater understanding by many who aren't reached but by the media. This is not the kind of movie to normally get as much advance attention as it did, and the story's power is proven by the "star power" of the cast. There are so many popular archetypes in this story that it can't rest. Many other stories this old did not become as popular, because they were not based on nobility. Those, like the Grimm and other Euro fairy tales, did survive more successfully, because they did involve the nobility element.

I picked up the novel some time after I had already "formally" started studying this path...and it got me really excited about that decision. The second time I read the novel I picked up primarily on the politics and personal agendas. I think that a great book, like great composers, can show you new things every time you partake of it. It's probably one of the best books I've ever read - hope anyone who hasn't read it yet gets it asap. A tremendous adventure - and deeply affecting affirmation of this path!

Even With Working Two Jobs, I Made The Time To Watch At... Jul 26th. at 4:24:03 am EDT

Jade Woulf (Columbia, South Carolina US) Age: 20

Even with working two jobs, I made the time to watch at least part one of the mini series. I have only read the first part of the actual book, and of course I love it so far, I plan on picking it back up once my life gets back to normal in August (when I return to school).

My thoughts on the movie: First of all, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to making movies from books, so forgive my opinion. I have only seen the first part, and I was slightly disappointed, but realized with the amount of time they had they did a halfway decent job of remaining true to the book (this is the first part). What I loved: the music (The Mystic's Dream was used VERY appropriately), Angelica Huston as Viviane (I don't know why, but she seemed to be perfect for the part), the costuming, and the set designs.

From talking with friends of my school's Pagan group I have gathered this, those that have not read the book loved part one and found part two decent. Those that have read the book, found the first part ranged from ok to great. As for the second, well, as one person put it: "What the (bleep) was that?!?"

From what I understand, most of my friends who have read the entire book felt that the second part borrowed heavily from other versions of the legend, characters were changed and/or completely dropped/left out, and one person said that it seemed that Morgause basically became Excalibur's version of Morgan Le Fay.

Even if the movie was nothing like the book, it is a BIG step forward for all Pagans. For the first time we are perceived in a positive light with none of the "hocus pocus" stuff. I had been afraid that the screenplay writer would be tempted to lure audiences with promises of spells and old hags standing around a cauldron saying, "Boil boil toil and trouble." If I had not read any of the book, I probably would have found the movie awesome and great publicity for Pagans everywhere. I ended up finding it decent (in regards to the first part), and great publicity for Pagans everywhere.

On a side note, someone said that MZB was not a Pagan, but if you read at the end or beginning of the book (depends on which edition you have I guess) there is a message from a close friend of MZB's. In it she says that MZB was a Priestess and introduced her to "the Mysteries." However, MZB spent her last days going to church on a regular basis. Someone from my school group raised the question could MZB have modeled Igraine's character after herself? This might be understandable if MZB had family that was involved in the church and she wished to remain with them.

Did I Like The Movie - No. Have I Read The Book - Only... Jul 26th. at 5:57:38 pm EDT

Lily WhiteRaven (Shelton, Washington US) Age: 26 - Email

Did I like the movie - no. Have I read the book - only about thirty times. I will be one among many to repeat that it is truly impossible to have compressed such an epic tale into just a few short hours. Yes, I agree that it would have been wiser to expand the film to a greater length. On the other hand, I don't think that could have begun to save the movie that was made. I never waited to see the second half, and neither did anyone I know.

I found myself wondering why, when two of the main characters were written as diminutive women, and a third as tall, in the film it was reversed, with a small-statured Samantha Mathis playing the willowy Gwen, and the tall, lovely Angelica Huston as a Viviane. Julianna Margulies is nearly as tall as Huston. But that is a totally visual observation. What about the important part of this discussion? The content itself.

I freely admit that I wrote TNT the day after part one aired, and here are all the lovely comments I sent them:

To whom it may concern,

First, allow me to thank you for producing a film I have waited over twelve years to see made. However, I, and I am sure many others, are less than happy with the outcome. The book by Marion Zimmer Bradley had an undercurrent of humanism that your adaptation is sorely lacking. The motives for the actions of the characters seem totally arbitrary, and, while Christianity is barely seen, the Old Religion is being portrayed as a cruel and hard system of beliefs. I understand that you may not have had time to explore all the gentle nuances of the original story, but I feel it was needless to so totally destroy the fact that very human passions and fears are the driving force behind it. The character of Viviane has been rewritten into a hard, conniving woman whose only goal is manipulation; a complete deviation from the woman written into the book, whose goal was to save her way her life. The empathy and love is missing from this narrative, making it a sensationalist and shallow story. Thank you.

No, I did not make up my own vision of how the Craft appeared in the film. I had the honor of having my (Christian) husband watch the movie with me. He has been listening to me ramble on about "an it harm none" and my Gods for years. Incidentally, he was also disturbed by how the Craft was portrayed. A positive vision? I didn't think so, not with a Viviane whose actions are never explained, but appear to be based on her own whims. And I have no idea where anyone is getting the idea that Christianity came off so badly. I saw little to no evidence of the White Christ at all.

I even received an email a week ago that told me how sad the writer was that "Morgaine didn't hold on to the Goddess for her whole life". I agree, especially since I did see pieces of the second half including a, to me, slightly disturbing ending that showed a Morgaine, totally disconnected from her religion, looking on a stone figure of the Mother wrapped in the mantle of Christ's mother, and standing in a Christian nave. I have to wonder, did the screenwriters and director ever even read this book? The Mists of Avalon was first printed almost twenty years ago. I know that there have been many people who have been interested in making this book into a movie over the years. I have to wonder about the fact that it wasn't produced until after Marion Zimmer Bradley's death. After seeing the movie, I am almost sure that she would not have been a willing to partner to the screenplay that emerged.

Am I overprotective of my religion and the views presented to world on its behalf? Yes. No apologies for being worried. It doesn't take much to rile up the religious rite, and I have no desire to have them on my doorstep with more incorrect propoganda. I am a quiet person, as are most or all of you. I live in a good neighborhood, in a small town, and I know that at least some of my neighbors are aware of my religious preference. I don't need my child, my husband, or myself harassed or threatened by people who have been given the wrong idea of what I believe.

Please do not take this as an attack of any of the opinions listed here, it most certainly is not. However, I have trouble believing that I was the only one who had some of these concerns. If someone who doesn't believe in this path could see the poor portrayal in this film, I fear for what the radicals who saw it may do.

Actually, I Enjoyed Mists Of Avalon The Mini-series. However, I Do Agree... Jul 26th. at 10:28:43 pm EDT

Juniper Jupiter (Overland Park, Kansas US) Age: 27

Actually, I enjoyed Mists of Avalon the mini-series. However, I do agree with others on this topic that it wasn't long enough. I got the answer(although it may not be correct, nyuk nyuk). Turn it in to a TV show series!! Heck, once the first book is done, just start up on the Lady of Avalon, and so forth!!

Keep in mind that even though I did like the mini-series, just like ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine nine percent of all movies that are based on books, the mini-series paled excruciatedly(Sp?) to the book.

Peace and Blessed be to y'all!!

Wife And I Both Enjoyed The Movie Very Much. Could It Have... Jul 27th. at 10:51:16 am EDT

Thane (fairfax, Virginia US) Age: 36

Wife and I both enjoyed the movie very much. Could it have been done better? Certainly. It was also refreshing to see a movie actually use costuming that was at least acceptable for the time period. (No shining 16th century armor sillynesss).
Certainly there could have been more "spelled out" by making the movie longer, but I think the length was about right. Allows you to read between the lines and ponder motives. Maybe I'm too old but I like a bit of mystery in a story. I don't need to know every minute detail of motive of a character.

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