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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 12,929,538  

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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 

I Thought The Movie Was Great. I Have Read The Book Several... Jul 24th. at 9:25:17 am EDT

Jeff Kincaid (Forest, Virginia US) Age: 38 - Email

I thought the movie was great. I have read the book several times over the years and was looking forward to the movie with great anticipation. I was a little sad at the omissions from the book, given that this was a "mini-series" I felt that more could have been included. I was also thrilled to see Paganism presented in a positive light as a religion, not as a way for teenage girls to change their hair color and cast love spells on the high school quarterback (ala "The Craft"). I would hope that this would open the way to more realistic portrayals of our path

Being A Big Fan Of The Three Ladies Involved, I Anxiously Awaited... Jul 24th. at 6:25:34 am EDT

Kim (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania US) Age: 33 - Email

Being a big fan of the three ladies involved, I anxiously awaited this movie. I spent my waiting time reading and falling under the spell off Marion Bradley's book. Part one was was far better that I expected from Hollywood. Part two went of track and never came back. Overall it was a good film, but I will read the book again before I watch the movie a second time. I look forward to the day when we can see a really accurate portrayal of paganism in the media.
I think that there is a real-life basis for the legends. Every legend started somewhere with a grain of truth.
Blessed Be,

I Haven't Read The Book But I Have Been Planning To. It's... Jul 23rd. at 11:26:47 pm EDT

Angie McMullen (Montoursville, Pennsylvania US) Age: 22 - Email

I haven't read the book but I have been planning to. It's been recomended to me several times. Personally, I thought the movie was richly done. It made Pagans look like the life affirming people that we are. I liked how they mentioned the Goddess and also unlike other interpretations, Morgaine was portrayed as a normal, decent person instead of evil. But we've got to remember that this movie has been based upon Marion Zimmer-Bradley's book and thus her perspective of the Arthurian myths. And that's what it is: a fictional story. Something to be enjoyed but not taken as reality or to be put down because it doesn't meet up to one's personal belief system. It should be taken as the gift that it is: A wonderful tale and a new take on the Arthurian legends. Wonderful, positive pr for pagans. And something to watch or read for entertainment.

I Knew The Tv Adaptation Of Mists Of Avalon Would Have To... Jul 23rd. at 11:13:05 pm EDT

Barbara (New York, New York US) Age: 44

I knew the TV adaptation of Mists of Avalon would have to omit huge chunks of the book to fit in the time required and I accept that. I do object to major plot changes that affect the structure of what happens afterwards. (For those of you who have both read the book and seen the movie, I refer to things like the aftermath of the Great Marriage and the end of Viviane's life. And we won't even discuss the end.) I will allow that the movie did present a positive portrayal of paganism, and the one scene where Uther and Igraine spoke of past lives was one I didn't think was going to get in. Someone in my stitching group mentioned that this was the first version of the Arthurian cycle that filled in the details and tied things together in a logical manner.

I can't say what specifically drew me to the Arthurian legends in the first place. But something about "the once and future king" definitely made an impression, on me as well as many other people. How many stories have been written about the return of Arthur? We need him to be real! As a history student in college, I know there was a real Arthur somewhere back in the so-called Dark Ages. For him to have transcended time implies that the real man made an impression on somebody. And that somebody passed it on to somebody else, and so on. Arthur became a magnet for other legends, so there had to be somthing solid to attach them to him.

I Hadn't Read The Book Before I Saw The Miniseries, So I... Jul 23rd. at 8:24:53 pm EDT

Sarah Packard (Ypsilanti, Michigan US) Age: 22 - Email

I hadn't read the book before I saw the miniseries, so I had nothing to compare it to, and I loved it!! A very exciting, positive kinda portrayal of Goddess spirituality and such, and Julianna Margulies was surprisingly perfect - Joan Allen and Anjelica Huston were brilliant as they always are. Anyway, obviously not eveyrthing from the book could be fit into the movie, but they did a decent job. And, seeing the movie inspired me to FINALLY go buy a copy of the book and read it, I've been meaning to do so for years, it's seems like everyone I know had read it except for me. I am halfway through it now, and loving it even more than the movie! It's obviously more in-depth and longer and less, I dunno, Hollywood-ized? But the movie seems to have been faithful to the spirit of the story and characters anyway, so far at least...I've always enjoyed Arthurian myths so it's wonderful for me to finally hear them told from a female perspective. I can really relate to Morgaine in the book especially, because she is strong (and smart) yet also vulnerable and longs for love and sometimes feels like people don't see her as beautiful because she isn't dainty and pretty like the ditzier Gwenhwyfar. (I relate to her a lot more than I ever did to Guinevere in the more traditional tellings of the myths.) I think, or at least I like to think, or hope, that the legends do indeed have some historical basis. In fact, as a child I assumed they were completely factual! Even if they are not exactly "factual" they are *true* in that they speak truth about humanity and magic and all sorts of things and they are a story that feels real to us and is a part of our culture, history, and lore.

I Liked The Miniseries In General. I Really Enjoyed The Actors, And... Jul 23rd. at 4:52:44 pm EDT

Bethy (Staten Island, New York US) Age: 34 - Email

I liked the miniseries in general. I really enjoyed the actors, and even though they had to leave out a lot that probably should have been kept, I was entertained, and that was what I hoped for. I really liked the scenery, especially how Avalon looked, and the gorgeous dresses!

The book I find inspirational. Whenever I feel the need to renew myself or kick-start meditation, I'll read it. I don't think of it as literal or historical truth, but the feel of it rings true to me. It's enjoyable fiction that has helped me get through rough times spiritually.

The Arthurian Legend character that speaks to me most is the Lady of the Lake. It is my favorite card in the Matthews' Hallowquest Tarot deck, and I always look upon her as being the epitome of dedication to the Goddess and the God. That is what I strive for spiritually. Someday, I hope to know enough to be able to help others on their quests, just as she does.

Bright blessings and hugs!

I Was Rather Disappointed In The Mists Of Avalon On Television. I... Jul 23rd. at 4:12:50 pm EDT

Irydesa Rose (Charlotte, North Carolina US) Age: 38

I was rather disappointed in the Mists of Avalon on television. I realized so much material is hard to cover in 4 hours (more like 2 1/2 or 3 with commercials), but I feel many major points were missed and/or changed. With the on-going narrative by Morgaine, the plot could have been more fleshed and closer to the book. The mini series did provide a lot of nice Ňeye candyÓ in the scenery and some of the costumes, but most of it was so unnecessary to the plot. What I really wish is that someone had been assigned to keep the crescent tattoo on Vivaine in the same place on her forehead for the entire movie!

Well "the Mists Of Avalon" Was A Very Pleasent Surprise, I Expected... Jul 23rd. at 1:52:20 pm EDT

andrew blocher (highland springs, Virginia US) Age: 17 - Email

well "The mists of avalon" was a very pleasent surprise, i expected a good movie i found a work of art. i haven't read the book (but i really want to espically now) such a wonderful movie i have seen many movies that deal with "witches and magic" like practical magic, the craft, witchhunt, warlock etc. and they are good movies but these are just like a single gold coin compared to the mountains ofgold, silver, and gems that is "the mists of avalon"
the arthurian legends i think are a very important part of pagan culture. in more ways than one.

I Feel That The Tv Show Was As Good As We Could... Jul 23rd. at 12:09:02 pm EDT

Arielle (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 43 - Email

I feel that the TV show was as good as we could expect from mainstream media. In all it portrayed the positive aspects of the Pagan religions, I really enjoyed how Morgaine was always so vibrant looking, and Guenivere look pale and insipid. The way there was no real pagan bashing was quite enjoyable. But, as usual, I I took the movie as stand alone from the book. There is never any direct comparison. And in this case, the movie seems to keep the same feel as the book. The only problem I saw, was that my son (who hasn't read it) had some problem following the plot, while my daughter and I (who have read it) did not. And anyone who has not considered the differences and clashes (historically) of christianity and paganism could feel confused.

I have always felt the Arthurian cycle was first the tale of mother goddess worship being overshadowed by father god worship, and then of paganism being overshadowed by christianity - particularly goddess worship being overshadowed. This is one of the reasons I have always preferred Marion Zimmer-Bradly's telling of the tale - it agreed with my own feelings on the matter. It was too bad the time constraints did not allow the showing of the land/kingdom not doing well because Arthur turned his back on paganism and embraced christainity.

Okay, Okay. It's Time For Someone Who For Many Years Has Practically... Jul 23rd. at 11:17:33 am EDT

Morgan Ravenwood (Lake Havasu , Arizona US) Age: 40 - Email

Okay, okay. It's time for someone who for many years has practically regarded that book as a Pagan "Bible" of sorts to offer an opinion (though I'm happy to see that the mini-series seems to have sparked a lot of interest in reading the book!)

While I found the first part to be a pretty good capsulization of the book with most of the important stuff left in, the second part, alas, left something to be desired, for much was omitted. Another two hours would have made so much difference---but I can see why that might have made it pretty dull for those who have NOT read the book. How I wish they'd made a "director's cut" version at least an hour longer!

The scenery and sets were fabulous; they really caught the tone of the dark ages. The costumes were perhaps a little TOO fancy, and I didn't care much for the "cornrow" braid hairstyles, but otherwise, everything was great. I taped the movie and have already watched it several times. I seem to find something new every time!

I have done a lot of study on the Arthurian legends since I was a child. As with most legends, I feel that there must be a basis in fact for Arthur's existence. For sure, the legend is one that has been well-known in Britain for centuries. Perhaps the fascination that many people held for Arthur and his knights centered around the fact that the folks from the age of chivalry seemed to represent all that was best in man.

Just a note to the person who picked on the "tribal" look of some of the Pagans in the movie: I believe that the tribe represented were the Picts, who painted themselves blue and indeed lived rather primitively by OUR standards!

Storyline aside, the most important thing about this movie is that it brought the subject of Paganism to prime time. Millions of people got to hear about worshipping the Goddess, and I can't help but think that you just can't buy that kind of exposure! The more that people are made aware of religious diversity, the more this awareness will foster religious tolerance.

I think my favorite scene in the movie was the last one, and it was right out of the book: Morgaine sees the statue of the "Virgin Mary" and realizes that it's the image of the goddess Brighid. The worship of the Goddess goes on!

For anyone who saw the movie and is even remotely curious about the book, I encourage you to read it. Besides being a whopper of a story, it is full of wit and wisdom that are very relevant to Paganism today---

Blessed Be!
Morgan Ravenwood

List owner,

I Haven't Read The Book (yet) But I Thought The Mini-series Was... Jul 23rd. at 11:05:27 am EDT

Damian (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania US) Age: 35

I haven't read the book (yet) but I thought the mini-series was well done. The only complaint I've heard from friends that have read the book was that it was too short and a lot of the story was skipped over (which I find is the case whenever a book is turned into a movie). Too bad TNT didn't take a hint from NBC's "The 10th Kingdom" and done a "maxi-mini series" over the course of six nights.

The Arthurian legends have always held a place in my mind as far back as I can remember, and I have tried to watch anything related to them. My favorites have to be "Excaliber" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (what can I say, I love British humor) the one movie that I haven't seen was "First Knight". There's just something about an aging Sean Conner planing a boy king that just didn't seem right to me.

As to which character most speakes to me and why. That's a tough one since each movie or book cast the character to fit the story they want to tell. I would have to say I relate to the knights that are just in the backgroud, because like me they help with the problemes and people around them and they don't ask for fame and glory in return. I hope that make sense, I'm a support type empathic person. I'm the one at gatherings that will walk up to someone sitting around the fire (or one of the drummers) and start a good neck message or can tell when someone needs a hug or shoulder. I'm always happy to be there for others, and you will probably find me working in the kitchen helping to feed the masses at gatherings.

Again It Seems That Gushing Praise Is The Only Reponse Pagans Can... Jul 23rd. at 11:02:39 am EDT

Jason Pitzl (Champaign, Illinois US) Age: 28 - Email

Again it seems that gushing praise is the only reponse pagans can come up with when we are thrown a goddess-friendly bone. Never mind the various glaring historical errors, never mind the fact that the Celts didn't worship in this manner and that this will set back several pagans in their efforts to promote a better historical perspective.

The sets were wildly out of place, especially the isle of Avalon, the ancient Celts didn't build structures like that and neither did the Romans. The pagan religious philosophy was fine if you were from California circa 1980.

Alot of the actors and actressess perfomances gave the impression that they were "phoning it in" especially Angelica Huston who seemed uncomfortable with the lines she was given.

It seems now we will have to contend with another round of people who are sure they are reincarnations of priestesses from the "holy isle" and that indeed this must be how it happened.

Mists of Avalon is a wonderful fantasy, but that is all it is, a fantasy. Please lets make sure we keep it there this time around. Let us not walk back into a mess we have just emerged from. It not only cheapens us, but it cheapens the real, interesting, complex history that the Arthurian legends sprang from.

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