31 Days of Witch Movies: #22 The Mists of Avalon

[Here is today’s review as promised.  Crystal Blanton, author and witch, has done a thorough review of one of her favorite movies, an adaptation of a the book The Mists of Avalon.  Among the many hats that she wears, Crystal is member of Covenant of the Goddess, a published author and editor of several books, a contributor to Patheos’ Daughters of Eve Blog, a member of the Bay Area’s Pagan Newswire Collective and a Wild Hunt monthly columnist. You can follow her on Facebook and her own blog. Enjoy! ]


Mists of Avalon, a book written by Marion Zimmer Bradley, was made into a television mini-series by TNT Originals in 2001. This was later turned into a movie and featured some well-known actresses in prominent roles within this made for TV drama.

The movie has an ambiance that is full of magic and mystery, full of imagery and vocabulary of the Goddess, and a carefully crafted retelling of the Arthurian legend. I re-watched this movie this week, one of my favorite Witchy movies of all time, but the question on the table would be why? Why does this equate such a rite of passage for many Goddess worshippers and Pagans today?

The movie opens with Morgaine as a young child, raised in the home with her mother Igraine and her father Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall. A feast at the home of the High King brings Igraine and her husband Gorlois face-to-face with Uther Pendragon, the named successor for the throne. After a series of magically placed events, Igraine and Uther become connected to one another, and this ultimately leads to the death of her husband Gorlois. It is then that Igraine marries the love of her life, Uther, and Arthur is born.

The movie continues to intertwine the need for the magic of Avalon to live on in the minds and hearts of the people, or else it would slip away into the mists and cease to exist. The magic of Avalon, the land of the Goddess, works its way into the political construct of the story to prevent this, showing how the underlying religious climate between the rising of the new Christian religion and the ways of the Goddess were the backbone of the Arthurian legend. Having a King that has the blood of Avalon becomes the mission of the Lady of the Lake, Vivian. As the sister to Igraine, and the aunt of Morgaine, Vivian takes Morgaine to the land of the Goddess and trains her in the ways of the priestess. While Morgaine is behind the mists of Avalon, Merlin was training young Arthur to one day become a King.

From The Mists of Avalon (2001)
From The Mists of Avalon (2001)

And although many of us know the story of King Arthur, this rendition shows a different version of the women behind the mysteries of the legends. The twist on the classically “evil” Morgaine, and the other women of the throne, is refreshing and very spiritually engaging. There is something about the retelling of the classically male-centric story in a more femininely pleasing way that brings out the Goddess energy. It doesn’t hurt that the Goddess is a major part of the story itself, and her name is spoken throughout the film.

There are so many interwoven pieces to this story that I found myself, once again, wrapped up into the mystery of the story, and the complexity of the characters. Vivian commands such respect, and she is the character that you love, and hate at the same time. I think Morgaine is breathtaking in many of the scenes in the movie. She holds such poise, and power, that she inspires a vision of a priestess of the old ways.

Longer than a regular movie, this visually stunning story is 183 minutes long and I loved every moment of it. The costumes tell a story of their own, and the twists and turn of the plot makes this movie so much different than any other Arthurian movie.

In writing this review, it became clear that if I told too much it would ruin the story for anyone who has not watched it. So instead I thought I would list out some of the things I love and didn’t love about this film.

Ten things I loved about this movie:

  1. Julianna Margulies, the actress that played Morgaine, is beautiful and sexy.
  2. There is a secret and naughty chemistry between Lancelot and Morgaine that is provokingly naughty.
  3. Vivian is the High Priestess that we all want to learn from, and hide from simultaneously.
  4. Why does the actor that plays Mordred in the movie have to be so hot?
  5. The costumes of the priestesses and women in the movie are flowingly beautiful.
  6. I have wanted a crescent moon tattoo on my forehead since I first saw this movie.
  7. Fabulous sound track, which includes a song by Lorenna McKennitt that is used when the mists are opened and Avalon is revealed.
  8. Anjelica Huston plays an incredible Lady of the Lake, complex, beautiful, loving and manipulative.
  9. The magic of Beltane was fascinating to watch, and it was a beautiful scene of magic…. Even though it was distorted and manipulatively planned.
  10. The intensity in the movie matched what I would expect to feel from such a magical and passionate environment. The feeling I got when watching this made sense to me.

Five things that challenged me while watching….

  1. It is very long.
  2. Some moments in the movie fall flat, and can become a little boring.
  3. Morgaine never gets the love she craves and deserves, which deeply bothered me.
  4. Much of the magic was for a specific type of gain, and not a lot of works to honor the Goddess was shown outside of that. I would have loved to have seen some of the worship of the Goddess alone.
  5. Gwenwyfar annoyed me greatly in this film, both the character and actress.

It is a long movie and the book is more detailed in some areas of the story. I suggest reading the book, but I also recommend the movie. It is a classic, and worth the hours of watching time that you have to invest.

The book
The book


Day #1: Oz: The Great and Powerful
Day #2: Haxan
Day #3: The Princess and the Frog
Day #4: City of the Dead
Day #5: Beautiful Creatures
Day #6: The Witches
Day #7: Wicked
Day #8: Bell Book & Candle
Day #9: American Horror Story: Coven
Day #10: Black Death (Guest Reviewer:  John W. Morehead)
Day #11: Witches of East End
Day #12: Nightmare Before Christmas
Day #13: Scooby Doo: The Witch’s Ghost
Day #14: Hocus Pocus
Day #15: The Wiz
Day #16: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Day #17: Wicker Man (Guest Reviewer: Link)
Day #18: The Witches of Eastwick
Day #19: Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Day #20: Harry Potter and the 8 Movies
Day #21: So I Married a Witch

  • JaneGalt

    Ah, but it would have been a LOT better if it had truly followed the book. That said, I still love both.