First Knight

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Romance Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - DVD Teaser Trailer #1
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 128:23 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Jerry Zucker

Columbia TriStar
Starring Sean Connery
Richard Gere
Julia Ormond
Ben Cross
RRP $34.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s) 
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s) 
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles French
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    First Knight is yet another telling of the legend of King Arthur, and who could better play the role of Arthur than the legend himself - Sean Connery. In a nutshell, the brave and fearless Lancelot is ingratiated into the heart of King Arthur and given the honour of joining the Knights of the Round Table. Lancelot, who is played surprisingly adequately by Richard Gere, naturally falls in love with King Arthur's bride Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond) to the disgust of the king. Along the way, great battles are fought in the name of all that is right and proper, and Lancelot becomes the man of the moment and saves the day.

    The tale is simple yet effective and compelling. Director Jerry Zucker has mixed in romance, adventure, action and drama in a masterful combination that is paced to perfection. The movie goes for more than two hours and never wanes. The combination of wonderful cinematography, brilliant scoring from composer Jerry Goldsmith and a typically fine performance from Sean Connery wrapped up in a timeless tale makes for a wonderful movie. I enjoyed it immensely.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is quite variable, ranging from mediocre to very good. The remarks below would lead you to believe that it is worse than it actually is. Taken on the whole, I found it perfectly watchable, film-like and satisfying - it's just not of the very highest quality.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to the theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, and therefore perfectly acceptable as there are no significant compromises.

    On the whole, the transfer just falls short of the usual high standard offered by Columbia Tristar. The image is at times soft, and other times quite sharp, making for a disjointed presentation. Shadow detail is acceptable, allowing just enough detail to be made out in the many dark scenes. There was more low-level noise than I am used to seeing from CTS, especially in the darker scenes. Bright scenes were, by contrast, generally excellent.

    The colours are very natural, and at times stunning. This movie was filmed at Pinewood UK studios and in Wales, and the lush green scenery is captured to magnificent effect at every occasion.

    There were no significant MPEG artefacts during this movie, although I would hazard that a higher bit-rate for the video would have seen improvements. However, at over two hours long this would have necessitated a dual-layer disc.

    There are a disturbing propensity of film artefacts during almost the entire movie. These range from almost constant nicks and scratches to rather ugly blemishes, particularly around 40:52 minutes. These, combined with the low-level noise problem, give the impression that this transfer is made from a worn print and is quite disappointing.


    The soundtrack to this movie is nothing short of superb. Make no bones, the audio on this disc is of reference quality.

    There are two audio tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1. Naturally, I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    Dialogue was at all times clear and easy to understand. There was quite a lot of ADR voice looping given the nature of the on-location shooting, but this was never distracting.

    There were no problems with audio sync during the movie.

    High on my list of favourite movie composers is Jerry Goldsmith. His scoring to this movie is up to his highest standards, and is superb. It is very orchestral, and the various string and percussion instruments come across with breathtaking clarity, realism and fullness. There were many occasions where I was simply mesmerized by the music, and the final scene with King Arthur's burial at sea is astonishing.

    From the very beginning scene, you know you are in for a thrilling surround presence. For the entire movie, the surround channels are used to brilliant effect. You are very much placed amongst the action, be it gross or subtle. The soundstage is very wide and deep, and the surrounds are integrated to the extent that sounds come from all positions, not just left-rear / right-rear. Music comes from all around, and often individual instruments are placed in the surrounds, which is marvellous. There are pans from rear-left to rear-right during the fighting scenes, and noises coming from phantom locations such as rear-centre and left-centre. I can't help but feel that this movie would sound even better if it were decoded using a 6.1 system, with an extra centre rear channel. It is that good.

    The subwoofer was used sparingly but to good effect. It never called attention to itself, and added weight to the soundtrack as it warranted.


    There are no extras on this disc, apart from the now very tired DVD Teaser Trailer #1.


    The static menu design is appropriately themed for the movie, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

    Both versions appear to be identical. The R4 version would therefore be the preferred choice given the superiority of the PAL system.


    An engrossing movie which is very well paced and has a dash of almost every genre for good measure. An excellent movie.

    The video quality is quite variable, though at times very good.

    The audio is extraordinarily good, and is of reference quality.

    The DVD Trailer does not constitute an extra, leaving it with nothing at all in that department.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Paul Cordingley
21st November 1999
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A; S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver, 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt, Main/Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders, Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive