A documentary on John Boorman’s 1981 film ‘Excalibur’ has wrapped principal photography in Ireland.
The documentary ‘Behind the Sword in the Stone’, which features interviews with the original cast more than 30 years on, retraces the steps it took to make the fantasy epic, which went on to win a number of awards and was nominated for an Academy Award.
John Boorman directed the feature on location in Co Wicklow, using Ardmore Studios as well as the surrounding land, and locations in Kerry and Tipperary.
The film was based on the compilation of romantic tales from Thomas Malory called ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’, which featured the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table.
British actor Nigel Terry played King Arthur, with the then little known cast made up of Gabriel Byrne, (In Treatment), Liam Neeson (Taken), Patrick Stewart (X Men) and Helen Mirren (The Queen).
Mossy Hare Productions, based in Wicklow, managed to score interviews with Gabriel Byrne, who played Uther Pendragon; Liam Neeson, who played Gawain; Patrick Stewart, who played Leondegrance, Charley Boorman who played Boy Mordred and Katrine Boorman who played Igrayne.
Mark Wright and Alec Moore travelled around Ireland and the UK to interview the cast, as well as director Boorman, who revisited some of the film’s original locations.
Both Wright and Moore co-directed and co-produced the documentary, with Wright conducting the interviews and Moore also serving as DoP on the shoot.
The producers said of approaching Boorman with the idea of the documentary: “John was intrigued and said ‘We’ll give it a go’. I don’t think at the time he thought we would get as far as we have, as he was very clear as to the hurdles and obstacles we were up against, but as time and progress went on he, true to his word, gave us help anytime we called him.”
The production team travelled close to the set of The History Channel series ‘Vikings’ in Co Wicklow to interview Gabriel Byrne, where he was filming. They travelled to London to meet with Patrick Stewart, and to Cornwall to meet with Nigel Terry.
“We were absolutely broke, Ireland is in the middle of a recession and funds were really low, also we had to get flights out at short notice. Luckily a friend of mine used to work in the city and he had a contact there, so after a few phone calls we landed a cool venue,” said Moore.
The production team is now looking to crowd sourcing websites to seek funding to complete post production.