CCTE: Literature 6- Pop Culture “Guinevere”

Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian University
Cinematic Guinevere

This is a live blogging of the session.

In Tarpley’s paper on Jane Austen, she said that what we think about a novel says more about us than it does about the novel.
The character reveals a great deal about the culture that creates, recreates, and revises the character. The differences and the changes offers a fascinating commentary on culture.

Guinevere brought down Arthur and Lancelot, through her sexual actions.

clip from Boudicca 60 A.D.
small kingdom in Britain, lived about a century before Guinevere
gathered an army after the Romans ignored her husband’s will
Wife was flogged, daughters raped, kingdom conquered.
Routed a Roman legion, but they were losing, so she killed herself.
start here because it connects with the 2004 Guinevere movie.

“Woman’s Suicide in Fairy Tales” argued that the suicides are empowerment
Guinevere mss mentioned two times, she “betrayed” Arthur by being raped by

ladies are enclosed within the castle’s walls
enclosed by the walls
13th C story, Arthur commits incest with his sister, sneaks into her bed, and gets her pregnant. Mordred is his son with his sister.
Arthur laments the Round Table more than the loss of his wife.

medieval revival
Arthur = idealized perfect king
Guinevere = prototypical bad woman who brings down the kingdom
change Mordred to not Arthur’s son with his sister, but to his nephew
“shame” repeatedly used in a discussion of Guinevere
illustration from the Penultimate Book of Idols- Guinevere grovels at Arthur’s feet.

1954 Knights of the Round Table,
with Ava Gardner as Guinevere and Robert Taylor as Arthur
“My lady, will you take me for your champion?”
“Who are you?”
“I’ve seen many wonders in the world, but none is as beautiful as you.”
Her in the high window with the knight looking up. She is static.
Much more chaste for the 1950s.
Allows him to fight for her freedom.
She is held between two men. She hides her identity from Lancelot.

Camelot Warner Brothers 1967- Vanessa Redgrave
associated with short Kennedy presidency

encased in white fur through the forest
“most terrifying forest I have ever seen. I simply adore it.” – Guinevere
“Was there ever a more inconvenient marriage of convenience?”
She foolishly seeks adventure,
which is denied a woman of her status—cluelessly adventurous
still surrounded and encased

Excalibur Warner Bros. 1983
grabs a shield to stave off a fighter
Lancelot comes to escort her to the king- They see each other.
curly big hair, position in the middle of the battle, helping the injured
not totally static
falls in love at first sight

First Knight Columbia 1995

lower class Lancelot
beautiful strong Guinevere—ruler of her own country
chooses to marry Arthur to protect her country

Lancelot is a lower class guy, has to get in touch with his inner child
attacked in her carriage and she deals forcefully with one of them, jumps from the carriage, Lancelot rescues her right before the bad guy shoots her. He gets rid of them.
Another falling in love at first sight.
“Can I have her when you’re finished with her? Have you ever seen anything so beautiful in your life?”
I have my orders. I’ll hold her for you. You hold her for me. Look at her. She wants it too. You can see it.
She kills the man who grabbed her.
She too betrays Arthur, with a single kiss.
Lancelot succeeds Arthur as king.

King Arthur Touchstone 2004
native Britain woman who fights both Roman and Saxon invaders
She is strong, refusing to bow to torture. She is willing to die.
Postcolonial Guinevere strong.
Joins Arthur and his six Roman knights fighting against the Saxons. “Seven against 200.” “Eight, “ says Guinevere.
“Hold until I give the command.” Arthur
“There’s a large number of lonely men out there.” Lancelot
“Don’t worry. I won’t let them rape you.” Guinevere

leading the Romans, blue skin, PG battle dress

original film ends on the battlefield after the ending—audience hated it.
Director added a wedding ceremony. Instead of being triumphant and bloody, Guinevere is wearing a dress, happy to kiss Arthur, and cheered by everyone around.
Guinevere is reduced to female construction.

New TV series starting in April. “meeting with Guinevere, and the one who betrays him” “She is the only shining light…”

Audience response:
Arthur and Guinevere in cartoon?
Camelot 3000, comic book series
anime Arthurian

Disney could redeem her and sell Guinevere costumes.

Warrior woman, but put in a white dress at the end.

Best seller Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Mini-series. Story from Guinevere’s story. Really interesting from the late 90s.

Looked at Guinevere in carriages… Interesting.

Merlin series right now.

Has Morgan LeFay had a remake?

No mystery in the 2004 King Arthur movie. No magic. No fantastic elements.

1990 Guinevere raised in school by Morgan LeFay. Goes to school with Lancelot. She rescues Arthur.

Favorite movie? 2004 King Arthur, depiction of Guinevere
favorite movie is Camelot

Idea of heroic.

Julie Andrews in stage version. Snubbed for the movie version.

Mary Stewart’s trilogy: How does that fit in?
I don’t remember it well enough. Need to read that.

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