Tales of the Round Table with Ronnie

As a child, did you know the origins of your favorite fairytale? For many children, they assume animated films such as the Disney Classics are original Disney content. Little Ronnie knew better! From a young age, my dad shared with me the original stories written by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Knowing where these stories came from, and the original tales, inspired me to not only create my own versions of these stories – early fanart, but also gave me an added layer of interest in that particular movie.

Before Jewel Riders, I knew of the King Arthur legend, but didn’t know much about it. It was because of Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders that Chris and I began to study Arthurian legend. A favorite book of mine that I’ve had since the late ‘90s is a King Arthur Encyclopedia filled with beautiful color illustrations and information about these beloved characters.

You mean Guinevere wasn’t spelled “Gwenevere,” or that Lady Tamara and Fallon aren’t historical characters? It was fascinating to read the collected stories of King Arthur by Roger Lancelyn Green for a school project, and to discover more about the similarities between our favorite 1995 animated series and the “real life“ characters that inspired them.

Recently, we shared a new playlist on our YouTube channel that features King Arthur and medieval documentaries and films (hit the hamburger menu in the upper right corner of the above playlist to view the entire thing). If you love this type of media, I highly recommend you watch some of the selected films and short subjects featured in the playlist. I won’t ruin all of the surprises for you if you don’t know much about the legends, but here’s a quick synopsis of the main characters found both in the written canon and in Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders.

Guinevere
Guinevere, also often written as Guenevere or Guenever, is the legendary wife and queen of King Arthur. First recorded in Welsh literature in the early 12th century, she has been portrayed as everything from a villainous and opportunistic traitor to a fatally flawed but noble and virtuous lady.

Merlin
Merlin is a mythological figure prominently featured in the legend of King Arthur and best known as an enchanter or wizard. His usual depiction, based on an amalgamation of historical and legendary figures, was introduced by the 12th-century British author Geoffrey of Monmouth and the translator John of Cornwall.

Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay, alternatively known as Morgan[n]a, Morgain[a/e], Morg[a]ne, Morgant[e], Morge[i]n, and Morgue[in] among other names and spellings, is a powerful enchantress in the Arthurian legend.

Lady of the lake
The Lady of the Lake is a name or a title used by several fairy-like enchantresses in the Matter of Britain, the body of medieval literature and mythology associated with the legend of King Arthur.

Whenever I am about to celebrate an anniversary of a favorite film, I love to indulge in all sorts of documentaries, behind the scenes footage, and movies associated with the IP. Jewel Riders is no different. Over the summer before we launched the 25th Anniversary, I filled my queue with all sorts of Arthurian inspired, retellings, and biopic movies! Here are some thoughts about the films I watched, ones I decided not to watch, and ones I highly recommend:

Who doesn’t love Disney’s 1963 classic The Sword in the Stone? Except for Merlin and an owl named Archimedes (Archie), it really has nothing to do with Jewel Riders, but it was a movie I had as a kid, and I’ve always loved the VHS cover art! The film is based on TH White’s The Sword in the Stone, written in 1938, which later became part of The Once and Future King. The animated film focuses on the young king prodigy, the cantankerous wizard, and a fabulous over the top antagonist!

That same year, Universal Pictures released their medieval epic Sword of Lancelot! The film stars a pretty, but somewhat too 1960’s-dated actress as the beloved Princess Guinevere. The film focuses less on King Arthur and more on Lancelot and the queen.

 

Three decades later, after the 1995 premiere of Jewel Riders, Avalon seemed to be all the rage! Toyota even named a line of cars after it LOL. One movie I decided not to watch came out the same year as Jewel Riders was A Kid in King Arthur‘s Court. Maybe I will eventually watch it… I have the soundtrack and I enjoy that, but the film itself just looks terrible!

Hallmark’s 1998 TV extravaganza Merlin, told the story from the point of view of the magical sorcerer. it was a refreshing change from the bungling old man that he was usually portrayed as. The TV mini-series tells of his upbringing, his love life, and his path to becoming the great wizard! (Sidenote: Merlin was released by Family Home Entertainment the same company that released Jewel Riders on VHS).

In 2001, the 1983 novel The Mists of Avalon, written by Marion Zimmer Bradley came to life with a chilling performance! Perhaps I just love her so much as Cinderella‘s stepmother, but Angelica Houston gave a performance that made this mini-series an instant classic in my eyes. Dont get me wrong, there were also a lot of other good actors and performances in this as well. And if you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it! It may be viewed by many as being too distantly removed from the King Arthur legend, or too feminist, but perhaps that’s what makes it fun.

Another Disney film to make this list is Avalon High, based on the book by the same name by Meg Cabot (author of the Princess Diaries series). It took the King Arthur legend and turned it on its head! You’ll just have to watch it for yourself.

For the last film, let’s go back to a time before the first film on our list. Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s 1953 Knights of the Roundtable featuring Ava Gardner, Robert Taylor, and Mel Ferrer; this is the ultimate King Arthur movie for me. (PS I watched the 1981 Excalibur and did not enjoy it.) One of my other favorite films made in the golden age of Hollywood is the 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood by Warner Bros, starring Errol Flynn in the titular role. If you love this movie as well, you most certainly will love Knights of the Round Table.

 

As mentioned earlier, I also watched many documentaries. I selected one I thought told the story the best! You can watch it here:

Tales of chivalry, princesses, magic, and love – those are the reasons why we love King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. And as an extension, it is one of the reasons why we love Jewel Riders. As we continue to celebrate twenty-five magical years of our favorite cartoon, I hope these film suggestions will help continue the celebration and conversation.

Ronnie

✨Jewel Power!✨

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