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The legend of King Arthur has always been a ripe subject for literature, stage, film and television. THE MISTS OF AVALON ($20) is the latest take on the Arthurian Legend, which was produced as a lush, three hour miniseries that aired on the TNT cable network. Based upon the novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley, THE MISTS OF AVALON places a decidedly different spin on the well-known legend. The chief protagonist of THE MISTS OF AVALON is Morgaine (Julianna Margulies); sister to King Arthur, and the story is told from her perspective. As the story unfolds, we see that all of the major events of the familiar legend are being shaped through the magic of Morgaineís aunt Viviane (Anjelica Huston), who is high priestess to the goddess of the mystical Kingdom of Avalon. Time and again Morgaine and her family are forced to make sacrifices for the sake of Avalon, whose very existence is dependent upon a Britain ruled by King Arthur. However, it is Vivianeís sister Morgause (Joan Allen) who threatens the future of Avalon, with her plans to displace Arthur, in her own quest for power. The cast of THE MISTS OF AVALON also includes Samantha Mathis, Caroline Goodall, Edward Atterton, Michael Vartan, Michael Byrne, Hans Matheson, Mark Lewis Jones and Clive Russell.

Warner Home Video has made THE MISTS OF AVALON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a truly beautiful transfer that easily bests the full frame cable presentation. The image is clean, rich and nicely detailed. Sometimes the resolution of the DVD is so good that some of the special effects work becomes a little more obvious. Fortunately, there arenít many of these moments. Much of the time, the filmís cinematography makes use of smoke and fog, which renders these sequences a little soft, but the effect is intentional. Colors are strongly reproduced, although the flesh tones are completely natural looking. Warm hues tend to dominate, with interiors being lit by a glowing firelight. There are no signs of chroma noise or smearing during the presentation. Blacks are accurately rendered and shadow detail is more than respectable. Clean dual layer authoring keep digital compression artifacts well disguised during the three-hour program.

For this release THE MISTS OF AVALON is offered with a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. This is an engaging mix that greatly exceeds what audiences heard during the original broadcast. There is a strong, enveloping soundstage with plenty of surround activity. On DVD, with the enhanced sound, THE MISTS OF AVALON plays more like a film epic than a cable miniseries. Dialogue reproduction is always crisp and fully intelligible. The bass channel is solid enough for the material, adding depth and believability to a number of sequences. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A number of deleted scenes are included on the DVD, as well as a still gallery with portraits, storyboards and costumes. Cast/crew filmographies close out the DVDís extras.

THE MISTS OF AVALON is a highly enjoyable miniseries that depicts the legend of King Arthur in a different light. If you are a fan of the miniseries, then you will want to own the DVD, which is vastly superior to the original cable broadcast.


The Mists of Avalon


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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