One year ago today, we ran our most popular Pepper post to date: a roasty parody of the Clive Owens and Keira Knightley costume drama film King Arthur. Here it is again, in its entirety, for new readers. The selling point of this movie was that it was supposed to be historically accurate, for certain small values of historical accuracy.
PG-13 Woad House
Being a Condensed Treatment of the New Moving Picture King Arthur, in Hopes that 115 or More Minutes of Your Life might be Devoted to More Fruitful Purfuits. Copyright © 2004 – 2005 Linus Gelber, All Rights Reserved.
The Steppes of Sarmatia. Fires, huts, mud.
Lookout: Look out!
Elders of Sarmatia: What’s wrong?
Lookout: The Romans are coming!
Elders: What about it?
Lookout: They are coming as they do every 15 years to reap their bounty under treaty, to take our children away to the cold north where they will train them as cavalry riders and force them to patrol dangerous lands near Hadrian’s Wall! Shall we rally to arms and stop them?
Lookout: But why not?
Elders: For one thing, our tribe disappeared over 200 years ago.
The Romans seize young Lancelot.
Lancelot: But wait! You can’t do this!
Romans: Why not? We’re being mostly historically accurate.
Lancelot: Yes, but I’m a made-up character! Even if Arthur is real, it’s known that I never existed!
Romans: Shut up.
Hadrian’s Wall. Arthur’s knights escort Bishop Germanius to someplace that whatever it is, it’s definitely not Camelot, because that wouldn’t be historically accurate.
Knights: Shut up.
Soldier: But look, you’re Arthur and this is England, and –
Knights: Shut up.
Soldier: Where are we going then?
Soldier: Fine, be that way.
Arthur: Where are they?
Arthur: Woads. The Woads. You know, the blue warriors who attack without armor, screaming as they race toward our swords?
Tristan: I was just stopping my horse, is all.
Knights: You mean the Picts?
The horses stop.
Tristan: Nice one.
Woads attack from the forest. They wear no armor, and scream as they race toward the armored knights.
Guy Dressed Like Bishop Germanius: Ow!
The Knights slaughter the
Picts Woads. Arthur interrogates a survivor at swordpoint.
Woad Survivor: …and really it’s a complete misnomer. Everyone believes the Picts painted themselves blue and tattooed themselves with hallucinogenic dye from the woad plant, but there’s very little evidence in the historical record. Woad isn’t psychotropic, for one thing, and it doesn’t work as a tattoo dye. The only eyewitness account of naked blue warriors is in Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul, and that justifies both Caesar’s losses in battle and the further commitment of forces to the Gallic campaign, so he needed to make the Picts sound terrifying and fearsome, which makes the text highly suspect.
Arthur: Sort of a Weapons of Mass Destruction thing.
Arthur: So that kind of messes up Braveheart too, doesn’t it?
Woad: Look, did you see The Passion of Christ? That man wouldn’t know history if it sat on his –
Sir Bors: Arthur, the guy dressed like Bishop Germanius is dead.
Arthur: Oh no. And Bishop Germanius was supposed to free us of our servitude tomorrow. What will we do now?
Bishop Germanius: Snag! Here I am, dressed as a common footsoldier.
Inside a big stone building with curtain walls that is not Camelot.
Bishop Germanius: Nice place, for England.
Arthur: You can sleep in my room.
Bishop Germanius: Hmm. I hardly know you. But when out of Rome, do the pagans.
The Round Table.
Aide to Bishop Germanius: A round table! What kind of evil is this?
Sir Lancelot: It’s Modernist.
Sir Gawain: Sets off the carpet as well.
Sir Galahad: And look at the inlay.
Sir Dagonet: Arthur says that all men are created equal, and the round table signifies —
Bishop Germanius: Dagonet? Sir Dagonet? Never heard of you.
Sir Dagonet: Yeah, like you’d heard of Bors.
Bishop Germanius: But he’s really good. I like him already. Anyway, I have good news and bad news for your leader.
Arthur: What’s the good news?
Bishop Germanius: My men and I survive this movie.
Arthur: And the bad … oh, I see.
Bishop Germanius: Yep.
In the pub.
Knights: Look! We’re jovial and cheeky. This makes us sympathetic to the audience, since we have no scripted personal lives.
Sir Bors: I have a personal life. I have lots of little children and a big penis. See? They love me already.
Sir Lancelot: I carry three big pointy swords and am very pretty. Does that count?
The Other Knights: We are so not going there.
In the spooky Woad encampment.
Merlin: I am Merlin. I just wanted to say that.
Woads: Cool. Do you have any more scenes?
Merlin: Not really. Let’s go ambush Arthur. He hates that.
The Knights travel to the Roman Villa at Hamburgerus Hillum.
Sir Lancelot: And if I fall in battle, do not bury me in this foreign land, but burn my body and scatter my ashes on a strong east wind, so I may return to the place of my birth.
Sir Tristan: No way am I standing next to you in the big battle scene.
Sir Gawain: Knights, which one am I?
Arthur: You’re one of the “G” ones, you and Galahad.
Sir Galahad: Which one of us has the cool beard? I forget.
Arthur: Anyway, look. We’re north of Hadrian’s Wall in enemy territory. The Woads are all around us, the Saxons are invading with a staggering army, and Rome is preparing to withdraw from England. We need to rescue the wealthy Roman family from the northern wastes, evade the armies in our path, and make it safely home. Piece of cake.
Sir Bors: How many enemy men are there?
Arthur: About 60,000, including the CG armies.
Sir Bors: And how many are we?
Arthur: Including retainers, I count 11.
Sir Lancelot: I’ll just call you “Aragorn” then.
Sir Tristan: What’s a wealthy Roman family doing up here in the northern wastes? That doesn’t make any sense.
Arthur: Shut up. Everyone just shut up.
At the site of the Saxon invasion.
Cerdic: Brother, that is so not how you rape a wench. Someone kill some extras, while I admire my private parts.
Cynric: You’re so awesome, father. Can I kill some of the extras too?
Cerdic: Zip it and fetch my Harley. Oh, and go ambush Arthur, he hates that.
At the gates of the Roman villa.
Arthur: I am Arthur, King of the Britons. I mean, a Knight of Rome.
Guards: How do we know you’re Arthur?
Peasants: Because he hasn’t got any shit on him.
Guards: WRONG MOVIE.
Peasants: We know, but we’ve been dying to say that for an hour.
Arthur: In fact, I am very clean.
Marcus Honorius: Hello, I’m fat, cruel, piggish, and stubborn, welcome to my home.
Arthur: We only want your son. He’s a favorite of the Pope.
Marcus Honorius: Some things never change, do they?
Arthur prepares to rescue the peasants, and good deeds are done.
Arthur: You’re all free, you know.
Peasants: Get a grip.
Arthur: My friend in Rome, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Pelagius, teaches that — wait, what’s behind that wall?
Guards: Umm … nothing.
Arthur: Citizen Honorius, tear down this wall!
Monks: Hello. We’re creepy Christians. This way to the mummified bodies.
Arthur: Look! A delirious child! And look, a beautiful Woad girl in chains! You fiends, what have you done to her?
Monk #1: Nothing! We haven’t touched her! Come on, we’re Christians! She’s a girl!
Monk #2: Ewwww!
The Knights, with the peasants and young Alecto, leave by the Eastern route.
Sir Tristan: The armies have cut us off from the South. We must go East, through the mountains.
Arthur: How do you know all this?
Sir Tristan: I have a hawk.
Arthur: And you what, speak Bird?
Sir Tristan: We have a special relationship.
Keira Knightley: Hello, I can say “Guinevere” in one syllable. Set me loose and I will paint myself blue. You may run a picture of me now.
Arthur: What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like –
Keira Knightley: This.
Arthur: Oh. I see. Do that again.
Merlin: Hello Arthur.
Arthur: I thought you didn’t have any other scenes.
Merlin: Just this one.
Snow along the trail; the Saxons approach.
Sir Tristan: Bad news, Arthur. There is a frozen lake ahead.
Arthur: Well that’s lucky.
Sir Tristan: No, it’s dangerous.
Arthur: Look. If it weren’t frozen, we wouldn’t have any chance of getting across it, would we? What would we do, swim across in armor, with wagons? Why is this road plunging into a lake anyway? For that matter, what is a huge road doing here at all? This is supposed to be a disused path through the mountains.
Sir Tristan: The Saxons are right behind us, too. And look what I found.
Tristan tosses a crossbow to the ground.
Sir Tristan: It’s Saxon. Armor-piercing.
Arthur: You do realize that the crossbow won’t be introduced into Europe for another 600 years.
Sir Tristan: Must be a prototype.
Arthur: Tristan, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you for some time now.
Sir Tristan: Yes?
Arthur: Are you sure you’re in the right movie?
The caravan begins crossing the frozen lake. The Saxon army rides up behind; they are equipped with fearsome bad beards.
Knights: How can seven of us stand against this horde?
Keira Knightley: Eight!
Knights: LEGOLAS! You’ve come!
Arthur: Wrong movie!
The ice begins to crack.
Arthur: Patronus Patronum!
Knights: Arthur, totally wrong movie!
The Saxons plunge into the lake and the Knights are victorious.
Camelot the walled stone fortress.
Arthur: We lost one of the “G” ones.
Bishop Germanius: The rest of you are now free. Hey, is that big army over there yours?
Before the gates, the Saxon leader meets with Arthur.
Cerdic: So you’re Arthur. Funny, I thought you’d be taller.
Arthur: Nice ride.
Cerdic: Thanks, it’s a Harley four-cylinder Indian. I rebuilt it myself.
Arthur: Sir Bors has a bigger one than yours.
Cerdic: No way.
Arthur: Like a baby’s arm. Wrapped around a moose.
Cerdic: It’s war then.
The Saxon army charges. Woads, now allied with Arthur, pour out of the woods and engage the invaders. From far back, a bank of trebuchets flings flaming masses of flaming mass at the battlefield.
Arthur: Nice work. You do understand that the trebuchet won’t be introduced for another 800 years. Let me guess – prototype?
Merlin: Just a little something I’ve been working up on the side.
Arthur: I thought that other scene was your last one.
Merlin: Sort of like magic, isn’t it?
Keira Knightley: Woooooo!
Keira Knightley: Yes.
Arthur: What’s that you’re wearing?
Keira Knightley: I found some string.
Arthur: That’s what I thought.
Keira Knightley: So this is the big battle scene.
Arthur: Yes. And I must find Cerdic and fight him alone.
Keira Knightley: Why are all your knights running away from Lancelot?
The battle is joined, and is heavily edited to preserve a PG-13 rating. Cynric kills Lancelot. Arthur defeats Cerdic. Sir Bors has another child. There is mourning and rejoicing.
The Mysterious Forest.
Keira Knightley: Kiss me here among the standing stones and the free Woads will welcome you as King of the Britons.
Arthur: That’s not really going to work in this version. I’m Christian all right, but the Round Table has fallen and my knights are scattered. Lancelot is already dead, which eliminates the love triangle bit unless someone does some serious work on the backstory. This “Woad” business is never going to make it through another picture. There’s no Lady of the Lake, and we debunked the Excalibur legend when I drew the sword as a child from my father’s burial mound. Merlin’s a shaman, not a magician. We don’t need to leave the sequel door open; there’s not going to be one. People won’t stand for it.
Keira Knightley: That’s what they said about Highlander.
Arthur: Um … good point. But really, Excalibur was much better.
Keira Knightley: Was I even born when that came out?
Arthur: Er, no. Good point.
Keira Knightley: Kiss me.