Camelot: Guinevere’s Hard Lesson On Adultery

Camelot Movie Poster

Photo credit: IMDb.com

In light of yesterday’s snowstorm (oh, the joys of living in New England!), John and I decided I’d spend they day in bed. I saw it as a wonderful excuse to watch one of my favorite movies: the 1967 screen version of Camelot.

Perhaps you’re shocked that a good Christian lady like me would enjoy a movie about adultery. Before you rush to judge me, I want you to consider the fact that Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot did far more than break King Arthur’s heart; it destroyed Camelot itself.  If Hollywood produced this film in hopes of glamorizing the adultery between Guinevere and Lancelot, I believe it failed miserably. For that reason, I see it as a cautionary tale on the destructive power of sin in general.

Viewing the movie yesterday, I paid particular attention to Guinevere’s opening song, in which she laments her impending marriage to Arthur. She longs to have knights battle (and perhaps even kill) for her. Marriage, she assumes, ends such possibilities of enjoying the “simple joys of maidenhood.” Right there, a Christian viewer should start questioning Guinevere’s moral character.

A bit further into the story, Queen Guinevere sings about the “lusty month of May,” again showing her secret pleasure in the idea of sexual sin. I’m not sure if Lerner and Lowe meant for this song to establish her as being morally perverse, but in my mind it certainly doesn’t make me sympathetic towards her. She, at this point, doesn’t think she’ll personally indulge in immorality — she simply likes the thought of other people renouncing self-control.

Obviously, when Lancelot comes to join the Knights of the Round Table, she does engage in immorality, despite continuing to feel love for Arthur. Immediately she discovers that the euphoria of her infidelity is offset by the guilt of betraying a husband who had always treated her kindly.

Arthur, it turns out, had fathered an illegitimate son, Mordred, long before meeting Guinevere. Eventually Mordred pops up in Camelot, intent on laying claim to the throne. Resistant to Arthur’s attempts to reform his character, Mordred entraps Lancelot and Guinevere, forcing Guinevere to be tried and condemned for adultery and treason. As war ensues, Camelot is destroyed.

Guinevere also suffers destruction. She learns, too late, that having knights spill their blood for her is anything but a “simple joy of maidenhood.” Her sin, combined with Arthur’s sexual sin, brought down everything she, Arthur and Lancelot worked so hard to build. All because she thought “a wretched thing or two” might be fun.

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