Lancelot of the Lake (1974) Script

After a series of fantastic adventures in which Sir Lancelot played a heroic part, King Arthur's knights, also known as the "Knights of the Round Table", set off in search of the Grail.

The Grail was a holy relic, a cup from the Last Supper in which Joseph of Arimathea collected Christ's blood from his body on the cross.

It was said to bestow supernatural powers and believed to be hidden somewhere in Brittany.

Before he died, the wizard Merlin pledged the knights to this holy quest.

Merlin had indicated that the quest should be led not by Sir Lancelot, the world's premier knight, but by a young knight called Perceval or Parsifal, the "Pure of Heart".

As soon as they left the castle the knights dispersed.

Perceval disappeared and was never seen again.

Two years have passed.

Decimated, the knights return to King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.

They have not found the Grail.


He whose footsteps precede him will die within a year.

Even if they're his horse's steps? Even if they're his horse's steps.

You said the same thing the day before yesterday.

Because it is the same omen for everyone.

I've lost my way.

This is Escalot. I'll show you the way.


Lancelot of the Lake


Is that you, Lancelot?

Is that you, Gawain?

You were ahead and yet you come in last with the injured.

I was lost near Escalot.

Greetings, Lionel.

Greetings, Lambegus, Bohort.


Uncle, it's Lancelot. Lancelot.

Sire, I do not bring you the Grail.

I come empty-handed.

The Grail eludes us.

There was only blood and death.

At least you were spared, Lancelot.

Inform the Queen. I want her to know her knight has returned.

I'm on my way.


Mass already?

It hasn't chimed three yet.


Lancelot.

Guinevere.

You are alive and you are here.

Nothing shall ever take you away from me again.

All is lost for us here in Brittany.

I can wait no longer.

Say it.

I love you.

Again. Say it once more.

I love you. You must believe me.

I believe you.

But what is the matter? Give me your hand.

The one you are hiding from me.

Your finger is bare.

You have taken off my ring.

Speak. You are frightening me.

I saw the Grail.

The Grail?

One night I sought refuge in a ruined chapel.

A voice challenged me, accusing me of deceit and treachery.

I can still hear that voice ringing in my ears.

You dreamt it.

I can no longer be your lover, Guinevere.

I swore to God with my sword drawn.

You did that?

I did.

For God to hear you, you must be absolved of another vow.

I ask you to absolve me of that vow, Guinevere.

I gave myself wholly to you, and you took me.


I shall have this room closed. why, Uncle? will you never assemble us again?

Assemble who?

Here sat Ydier.

Here Clamadeu and Urien.

Here Galeschin and all the others. Here, here and here. we shall never see them again.

Here Perceval.

There Claudas.

And there, there and there.

No, no.

Too many dead and too many memories.

Come in, Mordred. I want to ask you the question too. what are we going to do now?

I warned you, Sire, against rushing into such a foolish venture.

But you did not rush into it, Mordred.

You stayed behind in safety.

I will refrain from drawing conclusions from this disaster.

That's not what you were asked.

Sire, I'd rather keep silent.

In that case, Mordred, you may go.

I am troubled, my friends. Troubled, Sire?

Have we provoked God?

Are these terrible deaths a punishment, a decree of his justice?

Is this silent, empty castle not a sign that God has turned away from us, that God has forsaken us?

Let us reform our ranks, Uncle.

Later. I lack the heart when we have lost so many noble companions to replace them at a moment's notice. we must wait. with folded arms? wait for what? we have received a terrible blow.

May God guide us as to what to do next.

And what if he does not?

I want you to remain at arms.

Practise, improve yourselves. Above all, remain united.

Forget your quarrels, do everything to cultivate friendship.

what does Arthur say?

He says that the air we breathe is poisoned but that you will turn the poison into balm. why me?

He always calls on you for help.

He expects a miracle from you.

I've been turning his words over in my head all day. which words?

All of them.

"Improve yourselves."

You have devoted your life to that.

How else would you be so masterful in combat?

I must improve myself in other ways, but let's talk about Mordred.

Mordred will not come to us. we must go to him.

He represents everything that you and I despise.

The day he splashed you crossing the river you accused him of being rude to your horse.

He trembled with fear before you.

I do not like weaklings.

They should be hanged.

The Queen's room is lit. what of it?

I wonder, while they all feign sleep, how many pairs of wide-open eyes are trained on that window.

That is idle talk.

It is not idle talk. I have seen Agravain, Guivret, Lucan.

Even Mordred dares.

Think no more of it and go to bed.

His name will appear in the calendar.

Lancelot has become a saint.

I suppose we shall have to wait a long time to see you to become a saint, Gawain.

I go to Mass, I take Communion.

That is all God asks of me. He wanted me to be this way.

He wanted you to love the life he gave you.

I should love it more if everyone around me looked less dejected.

Uncle.

You must do something. Give us a purpose.

I gave you a purpose. Pray, Gawain.

You must pray.

Pray.

Consent.

Free me from my vow.

You have changed, Lancelot, but I am the same.

Say yes.

I beg you, for all our sakes.

No. I will not save anyone at that price.

God does not ask us to forswear love.

That which was must be no more.

Can we make what was be no more? we can ward off ill fortune, deflect the threat.

There is no threat. It only exists in your sick imagination.

Yield, Guinevere.

I yield.

I humble myself.

Thinking you are responsible for everything is not humility.

So you are the enemy.

I was made to help you.

I will go with you through the emptiness and the darkness.

I am your strength.

You said, "without Guinevere, there would be no Lancelot."

I wish to be alone.

You are alone in your pride.

Pride in what is not yours is a falsehood.

It was down to me to bring back the Grail.

It was not the Grail that you wanted, it was God.

God is not a trophy you can bring home.

You were unrelenting. You killed, pillaged, burned.

Then you turned on each other like maniacs, blindly.

And now you blame our love for this disaster.

And I am to destroy in an instant this love which it cost us so much to preserve?

I refuse, I will not.

It is not what you want that matters.

I cannot.

Nor is it this happiness that you seek.

Is this what happiness is? That which consumes my soul?

who am I that I do not throw myself at your feet?

I do not ask to love you.

Is it my fault that I cannot live without you, that I need you?

I do not live for Arthur.

Simply say to me, "For you, I choose death over life."

Say it, then I shall consent and everything will be simple.

That is impossible.

Happy the woman who knows why she must sacrifice herself.

But you know, Guinevere.

It's not possible for God to separate us.

If I surrender, it will be to you.

You alone.

Do you not want that?

what do you want me to say?

Only the "yes" that I see already on your lips.

Since you see it, it must be there.

You can do with me as you wish.


what are you looking up at? The moon.

Carmaduc says that little cloud is engulfing the moon, drowning it.

I say it is strangling it, choking it.

Meaning?

That we will all end up suffocating if we do not strike free.

Look. The cloud is retreating.

Is it your watch?

It is time for your rounds. Let me go with you.

That will not be necessary. I prefer to go alone.

Mordred, let us make peace.

Did Arthur send you to speak to me?

I came of my own accord.

I am deeply honoured but I think things are best left as they are. what do you want?

Your friendship in exchange for mine. we both serve the same king.

He takes your advice. He does not take mine. we are equal.

Our table was made round so there would be no precedence.

A woman's scarf?

Do you recognise it?

No, not if you hide it.

Mordred, if I give you my right hand, will you refuse it?


what insolence.

How dare he?

For much lesser affronts, you have drawn your sword and struck at the heart.

I went to him unarmed.

You could have struck him with your fists.

No, self-control is a strength.

Easily mistaken as a weakness.

He will say you are scared, that you backed down as though guilty.

Guilty of what?

I do not know. what I do know is that they are all going over to his side. who?

My brother Agravain, Lucan, Urien, and others.

You are perplexing us.

Here, take this bridle and this bit.

You told me you liked those best.

That is why I am giving them to you.


Lord God, do not forsake us.

Do not forsake me.

I struggle constantly against a death worse than death.

Deliver me from a temptation I can scarcely resist.

They wear their swords on the right.

They are from Gallesfort or Escalot.

From Escalot.

why have they come here? To see if we are still breathing.


was I right? was I wrong?

Had you refused, word would have gone round that we are weak and cowardly.

A tournament is not war and we know in advance who will be the victor.

My trusty Lancelot. Your trusty Lancelot, Sire. we have a fortnight to prepare.


It is only a whitsun tournament.

Do we need an angel to descend or tongues of fire to lick our heads?

Look how alert and happy he is.

And look how he twitches his ears.

Our luck is turning. Everything is going to change.

It is not only Agravain and Mordred who gaze up at that window.

No, I do too. Guinevere is our only woman, our sunshine.

Come and try out a lance.

Against each other?

Yes. what of our promise to Arthur?

There is no risk. You might skewer me.

Or I might skewer you.


why did you bring me here? why did you call me?

I did not think you would come.

I know it is over between us and that it must be so.

It must be so.

I wanted to see you one more time before leaving you.


I left my scarf here.

I am sure of it.

Someone has been here.


what have we done?

Guinevere, my heart.

Take this heart, take this soul. They belong to you.

It is your body I want.

Take this forbidden body.

Take it, revive it.


I am afraid.

I fear no one in the world.

I am afraid of what awaits us.

Do you not feel safe in my arms?

I will not always have them to protect me.

Always.

Poor mad Lancelot.

How can you stand your ground in this shrinking world? where you are, Guinevere, the world is vast, limitless.

Hold me tight. I am not a ghost.

Do not undress me. wait until tomorrow. Do not go to the tournament. when they have gone, come to my room.


Even without crossing the line, he will take all the honours.

He has never laid claim to the victories of others.

He is a show off, gutsy.

But perhaps he has more mettle than we give him credit for.


Here in the doorway. when his hand touches the door handle, do not hesitate - strike.

He will suspect nothing. He will not be armed.

And if he is?

Surprise him. He will not have time.

The floor stained by blood will be proof of adultery and will reveal the traitor.

He is dragging us all down.

Fools will never understand his sort.

Luckily, he does not care.

He will not be carefree forever.

The hypocrite. what do you mean, brother? Me?

If Lancelot were here, you'd be more careful. You'd keep quiet.

You'd be cowering like a dog, but beware.

Of whom? Of you?

Of this blade that could pass through you.

You are not going to fight, Lionel?

Don't worry, I am not coming to the tournament.

I knew it.

Can you read my thoughts, Mordred?

Friendship works wonders, Mordred.

As for me, I long to know your thoughts.

You will surely know them.

Goodbye and good luck.

Lionel and I were defending you back there.

Now I look ridiculous. Gaiwan.

I beseech you, use this tournament to let them see what you are worth.

They seem to have forgotten.

They moan about you and besmirch your honour.

You seem to enjoy putting your friends in the wrong and those cowards in the right with their foolish pride.

I will silence them when the time comes.

The time has come.


Fetch a suit of white armour and a plain shield.

There should be no one at the stable. Saddle the red bay.

Prepare two lances. I am leaving.

At night, alone? Be quiet, you fool. Get a move on.

And hold your tongue, or else...

Forgive me, my love. I must do this.

I shall not be gone long.

I shall return tomorrow before nightfall and we shall be alone together all night.


why is he not with us?

Answer me.

Love, Sire. Lancelot loves. whom?

The Queen.

He is her knight.

He is more.

That is a monstrous lie.

It is the truth.

Mordred, you are giving vent to jealousy.

Empty accusations will be punished.

I swear it.

Swearing does not prove anything.

I swear it is false. what proof have you?

My word is enough.

Mordred, I order you to be silent.

Gawain, what are the conditions of the tournament?

Choice of adversaries, Sire.

Sharpened points, weakened lances.


Lancelot.

Lancelot.


Lancelot.


Lancelot.


It was his horse.

There is more than one red bay in the world with a white star on its brow.

But only one lance is a thunderbolt.

And only one knight charges with his guard down.

Mordred, everything is against you.

The best thing you can do now is admit it and hold your peace.

It is not the first time he has turned up with his visor lowered and taken us on as his opponent.

Can he not do anything like everyone else?

Perhaps he wanted to teach you a lesson.

was it really him?

Yes.

My glancing blow drove the tip of the lance into his waist.


He was the victor. And he is wounded?

Lionel fears so but he is not sure. what are you sure of?

Did you see his face? Did he speak to anyone?

No one.


You are keeping something from me.

Only gossip and lies.

Do you understand Lancelot?

He could not carry on without destroying himself, destroying my uncle, destroying us all.

For Lancelot, deciding and charging is one and the same.

Your eyes deceived you, Gawain.

It was not him at the tournament.

Lancelot has gone, never to return.

He has fled. He is far away.


Lionel, where are you going?

To challenge Mordred. My sword will prove that he lied.

Only Lancelot's sword can prove that. Yours will prove nothing.

Anyway, he will not fight, unless you slit his throat like a chicken. what's to stop me?

Carmaduc and Bohort are going to look for him.

This mess is Lancelot's doing. why doesn't Arthur act? "Empty accusations will be punished."

Some force is manipulating us. Arthur cannot govern it.

Find him quickly.


Any news? Nothing, but the forest is hellish.


Is it an omen?

God rest his soul.

So Lancelot is dead?

The Queen will have to choose a new knight.

Yes and without delay.

I wish I could corner him.

Check. with a queen and a castle?

And this knight?

Gone, flown. The knight is dead.

You are cheating, Mordred.

Not in the way you think.

Explain the move with a queen and a castle.

Can you not guess?

Stay where you are, Mordred.

Stay out of reach of my sword.


Leave, Gawain. I want to be left alone.

Do not stay here. Come with me.

Are you giving orders?

On bended knee, I beg you to listen to me.

You are being watched.

Here is your scarf which I found in Mordred's quarters.

The traitor says you return here because criminals return to the scene of their crime.

what crime?

A crime that carries a terrible punishment.

I shudder to think of it.

Dear Gawain, once again I ask you to go.

I wish you could do something but you cannot do anything.

I am ready for anything.

I await the one who will save me.

Not you or anyone in the world can drag me away from here, except by force.

I wait for him here, alone with my pain, as I always have done.

Here I can be with him.

I talk to him and he hears me.

My crime is that for one instant I doubted him.

A wound, someone or something inexplicable is keeping him from me.

But he lives. I know it, I feel it.

He has not abandoned me.

Now go.

Tell them that I love him and that my body and soul are his.

Go and tell Arthur.

what are you waiting for? Go.

I would give my last drop of blood to save your life but I fear my pathetic life weighs too little to tip the balance.

Do not go in, Uncle. Do not judge her.

If you still cherish her above all else.

Do you doubt it, Gawain?

Go quickly.


There may still be a chance. what we are doing is worthwhile. what? His rage will be terrible. we have no choice.


we seek one of our men. He may have been wounded.

Nothing to say?

Nothing.


Don't grip me so tight. where were you?

Did you meet someone?

You should be dead.

But I am alive and I am leaving.

In your condition?

what is it?

You are stupid and you'll never understand anything.

Someone keeps calling me. I must go.

Go then. Go and be killed.

I go to live.


Lancelot, help!

I am here, Guinevere. I have come to rescue you.

Don't touch me.

I forbid you to come nearer.

I am here, Guinevere.

You are covered in blood.

Lionel.

They are waiting for you. Go quickly.


Nothing to be seen. Nothing and not a sound.

That means they are here.

Do you know who you killed to rescue the queen?

Two shadows. It happened so quickly.

Agravain, Gawain's brother. Agravain?

The other man you laid out was Lucan.

He did not deserve to live.

And Mordred? we can wager he stayed put and that his sword remains untainted.

Not so stupid.

Is the drawbridge up? Yes, and these ruins are strong.

Do we have supplies, water, fodder? Enough for a ten-year siege.

Siege?

Come, Lionel, Bohort. we are doing the attacking.

where is Gawain?


Gawain killed by Lancelot? God would not allow it.


Gawain, my poor nephew.

Poor Gawain.

He is the victim of a murderer, Sire.

Of a traitor.

No.

No, Gawain?

It was me, it was my fault.

Do not blame Lancelot.

I charged him head-on.

He parried and riposted without recognising me.

You must tell him that avenging Agravain is hard to bear.

But for all the rest my heart is with him.

we shall avenge you, Gawain. we shall avenge you and your brother.

Sire, I wanted... what did you want?

You and I both wanted to save the Queen.

Yes, I wanted to save her.

what we could not do, Lancelot has done.

Uncle, listen to me just this once.

Everyone will die. Listen to my advice.

I am listening, Gawain.


Gawain is dead.

Arthur offers... He has nothing to offer.

Lancelot had him under his horse's hooves.

Aiglin cried, "Kill him! End it!"

But Lancelot spared Arthur.

Arthur offers to take back the Queen on the condition that Lancelot leaves.

Arthur judges her innocent of the crime of adultery for which he has no proof.

He has had us all swear respect and loyalty.

That way there will be no more bloodshed.

Too late. we refuse.


This is our last night.

Let us accept. Time is running out.

I will not capitulate.

we have much to atone for. So much blood has been shed. we cannot bring the dead back to life.

It was my duty to defend you.

Your duty now is to return me to Arthur.

I will not hand you over to him.

I delighted in deceiving him. He arouses nothing but loathing in me.

I shall rid you of Arthur.

You did not kill him yesterday.

If only I had, without a thought.

He would have killed you if he could.

I will send word that I no longer wish to fight.

He will not listen. He has right on his side.

Right is not justice.

Forget justice.

Stay with me, Guinevere.

It was too good. It is no longer possible.

I crave the impossible. what am I to do with you?

You have nothing more to ask of me.

I have nothing more to give you.

I have done all I could.

I loved you more than any creature in this world has ever loved.

You lie. You will never cease to love me.

I shall suffer instead.

Do you choose suffering?

I have chosen nothing.

If only I could see into your heart.

You see it. It bleeds, it is torn.

How can I leave you?

Perhaps God demands it.

He demands nothing.

Am I to understand that the woman made for me was not made for me, that all that is true is false?

Decide to leave this woman while there is still time, of your own free will.

If I leave you, what remains for me?

Our faith in each other, the promise we made to each other. wherever you are, I must be there too.

Even if I am a burden?

Let me go.

This is the first time it is you bidding me farewell.

It is the last time too.

Farewell.

No, I have you in my hands.

I cannot let you escape.

It is nearly time.


I need to hold on to you.

I shall walk without looking right or left.


what is it, Lionel? what is the matter?

Mordred is at the castle. He has mustered support.

Carmaduc rushed here to tell us the news.

Along with a handful of men he intends to challenge Arthur's rule. what say you?

Are you asking that, Lionel?

Saddle up for Arthur against Mordred. Follow me.


Guinevere.