Excalibur was the first R rated movie I saw in the theater. I guess I was 11 at the time. I think my father took pity on my brother and I because there were so few decent fantasy movies movies in that era. Sure, Hawk the Slayer was fun, but I wouldn’t call it good. Anyway, I went on to see Excalibur dozens and dozens of times. When I was in college, we often would run movies in the background as we played Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Excalibur was a favorite.
One day I actually paid attention during the credits and noticed that the actress who played Igraine was named Katrine Boorman. As John Boorman directed the movie we thought it was probably his wife or daughter. She was young enough that daughter seemed the most likely and indeed that was the case.
As you may recall the siring of Arthur is graphically depicted in Excalibur, with Uther tearing off Igraine’s dress and then mounting her while still wearing his armor (now that is a horny knight). So in that long ago college dorm, I joked to my friends about what that casting conversation must have been like for the Boormans. “Honey, would you like to have your tit sucked?”
So the other night I watched Excalibur for the first time in at least a decade. I had picked up the DVD cheap at some point but never watched it. When it was over, I noticed there was a commentary track by John Boorman, so I turned that on. I was curious what he would say during the infamous Uther/Igraine tryst.
I’m paraphrasing but his is more or less what he said. “People often ask me if it was difficult filming my daughter getting raped. First of all, Igraine doesn’t think she’s being raped because Merlin put a glamour on Uther. In any case, my daughter and I discussed it beforehand, we were both fine with it, so we did it and it was not a big deal. The bigger problem for Katrine was being so close to the fire in the background.” He then spends the rest of the scene talking about the great job the set designer did on Tintagel castle!
I guess that means both Boormans are either incredibly professional or incredibly fucked up.