Arthurian myths play a big role in The Fey Man. You might think I read and researched a lot of those myths. Perhaps you have a romantic image of me in a montage of reading books, cross-referencing articles, leafing furiously through pages before finally falling asleep on a pile of books, glasses askew. Perhaps you don’t. But whilst I was inspired by the myths, I also took inspiration from another source: the title sequence for The Legend of Prince Valiant.
Time for a confession: I was never a fan of Prince Valiant. I watched it, because I’d watch any old rubbish as a kid. But if there was something else on, I’d watch that. The Legend of Prince Valiant was too slow, too mundane for the tastes of a boy who thought Teenage Mutant Turtles were the best thing since sliced pizza. But the title sequence always stuck with me. I suspect it was the power ballad.
It was definitely the power ballad.
It might sound daft, but I’m fairly certain this sixty second video has influenced my entire thinking of the Arthurian myth. It’s full of sun symbology, brave knights galloping, and everyone is standing about proudly and bearing arms to the sounds of 80s enthusiasm. It speaks of a golden age of chivalry and, well, valiance. And then, towards the end, there’s an old man slumped in a throne. Completely at odds to everything else. Even old Merlin is doing the whole standing proudly thing. But Arthur seems fed up with it all. Or defeated. Surrounded by all this hope and purpose and yet unable to feel it.
And doesn’t that exactly sum up the myth of Arthur? His rule is meant to be a golden age. But, like all halcyon days, it’s too good to be true. It falters and fails. So instead the myth casts another ray of hope, that Arthur will return one day and bring about a true golden age. Yet it’s a vain hope. Those days will never come again. Even if Arthur did come back, how could he bring that time with him? The past has passed and doesn’t return. That old man slumped in his throne is aware of the lie of his legend.
Or am I reading way to much into a cartoon title sequence?