Story

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is director Guy Ritchie’s retelling of the original myth. The story begins with King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) being overthrown by his treacherous and vindictive brother, Vortigern (Jude Law). After ruthlessly sacrificing his wife for this cause, Vortigern tries to kill his young nephew, Arthur, who is the true heir to the throne. But Arthur is saved and eventually raised by a group of prostitutes in a city brothel.

Two decades later, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) has grown into a skilled street fighter while Vortigern has become a more tyrannical ruler. When Vortigern learns that the powerful sword Excalibur is stuck in a stone, Vortigern sends his guards to collect men from the village to pull it free. And when Arthur pulls the sword free, Vortigern meets with him privately and reveals Arthur’s true lineage.

Before Vortigern can execute Arthur, a powerful mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and a group of Uther’s old followers appear and rescue Arthur. They try to convince Arthur to use Excalibur, overthrow Vortigern and take his rightful place on the throne. 

Themes

Fantasy; love and family; good and evil; betrayal; action/adventure. 

Violence

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has considerable violence and references to violence. For example:

  • There are many fight/battle scenes in the movie. These involve a range of weapons. People use swords and knives to stab or slash other people’s throats, and people are shot with bows and arrows. The scenes also show people being hanged.
  • One character, who is greedy for power, sacrifices the lives of two people he loves, although he doesn’t kill them himself.
  • Environments and structures are destroyed by magic. There are explosions, and buildings fall to the ground in pieces.
  • Guards kill adults and children who protest the King’s actions. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has some scenes and themes that could disturb children aged under five years. For example, characters often use magic for destruction and evil purposes. One mage has the ability to control a very large snake, and can make it eat and kill people.

From 5-8
Children in this age group could be disturbed by the magical elements in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, mentioned above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group could be disturbed by the magical elements in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, mentioned above.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has some mild sexual references. For example, Arthur is brought up in a brothel. Although no sexual contact is actually shown in the brothel scenes, it’s implied that men enter the brothel and go into rooms with the female workers for sex. They leave payment behind. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword shows some use of substances. For example, adult characters drink alcohol in social settings like meals. 

Nudity and sexual activity

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword shows some limited sexual activity, including two moments when male and female characters share a farewell kiss. 

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has some coarse language and crude sexual language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an inspiring story about pushing past your fears, conquering self-doubt and developing self-belief. It also explores grief and loss, the power of friendship and, most of all, the nature of social and community progress.

At the beginning of the story, Arthur has no understanding of his personal lineage, although helping others is something he does naturally and values highly. When he learns that he’s heir to the throne, Arthur begins to take on greater responsibilities, despite his strong fear of failure. After taking the throne, Arthur starts a process of change that affects Camelot and its people in very positive ways.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • the importance of teamwork, and having the support of others when you’re trying to overcome obstacles
  • the belief that everyone can contribute to a greater goal
  • the idea that individuals can be flawed but can still be decent people when they strive to do good things
  • the importance of allowing yourself to experience grief and loss, and to be true to your own feelings.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:

  • the idea that it’s crucial for everyone to take an active interest in helping to improve society and protect vulnerable populations
  • the dynamics of power and authority, and when it’s OK to break the rules
  • gender stereotypes, and whether men and women have different strengths.