Ardent fans of Games Of Thrones and another, already popular, series on Netflix, The Witcher, may be tempted to compare the Katherine Langford starrer Cursed to the series and write it off as a feeble attempt to sell out a medieval fantasy genre. Agreed, you will not find Cursed to be as intense or mind-numbingly crazy as the two shows and it’s okay, ‘cause it has set out with a different agenda, a refreshing theme of retelling the famous Arthurian legend with a female perspective, something which never been done before. And for that alone, it deserves a franchise of its own.
Many of us would proudly say that they are aware of the nitty-gritty details of famous Arthurian legend- there was a king, named Arthur, who became the chosen one when he wielded the powerful sword, Excalibur, and the magician, Merlin, who helped him along the way.
Thus, while Nimue, the future Lady of the Lake, in Cursed, sounds like a familiar name, not much is known about her importance in the story of King Arthur- like every other female character, she has either been sidelined or conveniently villainised in each retelling of the legend, serving to only further the male-driven narrative.
And that’s why Cursed, adapted from Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler’s recent bestselling graphic novel of the same name, despite its flaws (which we will discuss later), comes off as a worthy watch as it puts a woman at the helm of the Arthurian legend, instead of just existing on the fringes and attempts to drive it an entirely new, if not perfect, way.
Cursed, begins with a major shift away from the usual retelling of the saga of King Arthur, by depicting him (Devon Terrell) as a secondary character. From the very beginning, we follow the difficult life of the young Fey maiden, Nimue (Katherine Langford) who has mysterious powers and is shunned by everyone, apart from her mother, Lenore (Catherine Walker). But when the Red Paladins, led by Carden (Peter Mullan) ravage her village, her dying mother entrusts her with the Sword of Power (Excalibur), instructing her to deliver it to the wizard Merlin (a delightful Gustaf Skarsgård).
But along the way, faced with life-threatening elements, Nimue has no choice but to unsheath the sword and wield it. And Excalibur chooses her, making her the “Chosen one”, the saviour.
Though Cursed narrates an engaging tale, it is hard to not miss the forced attempts to somehow connect it to the broader Arthurian legend (which Netflix is definitely planning to produce in the future) and in doing so, it too hands the baton to men more often than appreciated, undermining the importance of Nimue’s story.
Then there are major lapses in the storyline Cursed follows- there are episodes where the engaging main story arc dominates and then there are also long, dull, 50-60 minutes of exploring half-hearted subplots like Fey politics and clashing armies.
It is Katherine Langford who keeps Cursed from falling apart. You may be disgruntled with something in one scene, but the very next scene featuring her Nimue will force you to marvel at her talent to emote vulnerability and strong-headedness at the same time.
And that’s why despite all its shortcomings, it’s hard to give up on Cursed just yet, especially not when it shows all the potential to transform into a franchise to root for, its success resting on Katherine Langford’s able shoulders, which granted 13 Reasons Why at least one stellar season.