Medieval Action Drama On Netflix Is A Star-Studded ’90s Standout

By Brian Myers | Published

The year 1995 gave film goers several period pieces from the medieval era, each one centering around different protagonists taken from real-life heroes or conjured up from ancient lore. While Rob Roy and Braveheart were historical/semi-biographical films that retold actual events from their respective times, the film First Knight focused on the likely fictitious King Arthur in one of character’s most memorable modern adaptations. Though given a lukewarm reception from the critics of its day, First Knight has attracted new fans as it streams on Netflix.

First Knight Boasts An All-Star Cast

First Knight 1995

First Knight is the story of the fabled King Arthur in his final years as ruler of Camelot. After years of victory in numerous battles to secure his kingdom, Arthur (Sean Connery) decides to finally marry. Choosing Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond) as his future bride sets up a series of events that forces Camelot’s monarch to eventually face his longtime foe, former Round Table knight, Malagant (Ben Cross).

Complicating matters is Lady Guinevere’s chance meeting with Lancelot (Richard Gere), who saves the future queen from a kidnapping attempt by Malagant. First Knight shows that, while wanting to marry the King for respect and security, Lady Guinevere begins to develop strong feelings for the man who saves her.

The Malignant Malagant

First Knight 1995

The film plays out over Malagant’s desire for the throne of Camelot as the antagonist will stop at nothing to grab the crown from Arthur. His attempts to kidnap the King’s lady-in-waiting finally succeed, giving Lancelot the opportunity to impress Arthur with his battle skills, as well as work to cement Guinevere’s feelings for her younger suitor.

Connery In Command

First Knight 1995

First Knight gives audiences a commanding performance from Sean Connery. In what has been considered one of the greatest film depictions of King Arthur, Connery uses his wit and dominance to strongly sell a believable version of the folk character. Connery’s Arthur is nearly overshadowed by Ben Cross’s Malagant, however, as Cross portrays Arthur’s vile nemesis to perfection.

Richard Gere’s Lancelot

First Knight 1995

While slow viewing in spots, First Knight shows fast-paced action sequences and fight scenes that balance out the production. The character development, particularly with Lancelot, is another solid attribute as his depth, motivation, and eventual philosophical transformation ties together with the motifs of service, loyalty, and fellowship. Despite Lancelot’s complex character, critics were especially harsh on how the reluctant Knight of the Round Table was depicted by Richard Gere, with some accusing the actor of reducing him to a one-dimensional role.

Stream First Knight On Netflix Today

First Knight 1995


Completing the film is the masterful score written and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. The Academy Award-winning composer helped to capture the mood and tone set by Jerry Zucker and is, from the standpoint of various critics at the time, one of the film’s better attributes. Not bad, considering that Goldsmith was a last-minute replacement for First Knight’s original composer, Maurice Jarre, and was able to somehow successfully give audiences one of the best scores of the decade in less than four days of recording.

You can catch First Knight streaming on Netflix.