I recently discovered a gem of a film. While not perfect, Fox Movies’ The Kid Who Would Be King delightfully reimagines the story of King Arthur. It is a timely reminder, that yes, kids can change the world and that they can lead the charge in a world filled with so much chaos and division.
In the film, Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is a 12-year-old kid who endeavors to protect his friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) from bullies. Initially, one would think that the bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) are the film’s main antagonists but they actually are not. It is the evil sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) who reemerges at the present time because she draws power from misery and discord. With the help of Merlin (Angus Imrie), Alex must become a leader and rallies even the bullies (who eventually becomes his friends) to help him stop evil from winning.
The main reason why I recommend this film for parents to watch with their children is because of the treasure trove of lessons that this movie offers. There are three that I would like to focus on.
The first is the fact that Alex does not have any noble ancestry. In fact, he is being raised by a single mother. The movie points out that he was primarily chosen not because he descended from a long line of exemplary men. It was because, at his very core, Alex was honorable, honest, willing to forgive, and willing to be a person for others. Such a compelling narrative is a reminder to children that what really makes us noble is not how much money we have, who are parents are, or how much influence we wield. It is tied to the kind of person we are — if we are kind, principled, generous, forgiving. That is the true test of nobility.
The second is the weapon needed to slay Morgana once and for all. No, it was not through a skillful slash of a sword. It was the challenge to live by the Chivalric Code of King Arthur. The kids were called to be honest, to be loyal, to defend what is good, to protect the weak, to speak kindly, to honor those whom they love, to be more for others, to extend a forgiving hand even to one’s enemies. Without coming across as preachy, the film was effective at showing that we are all challenged to be larger than ourselves, that we can live by a higher moral code devoid of cruelty and knee-jerk retaliation.
The third and final point that I would like to share is the empowering theme that emanates from this film. At the end of the film, it is the children who ultimately stood up to the forces of darkness. Their weapons of choice were wisdom, loyalty, honor, courage, kindness, love. While done metaphorically, the movie showed what was so succinctly expressed by well-respected movie critic Matt Goldberg when he said, “Joe Cornish (the film’s director) crafted a story that’s thoughtful, funny, cute, and charming for both kids and adults. Rather than lean on the narrative of a “Chosen One” who is special because of his birth or station, The Kid Who Would Be King empowers its young audience to recognize the Chivalric Code of King Arthur and how they can be heroes and leaders for a fractured world.”
The Kid Who Would Be King is very refreshing especially at a time in our country where instead of focusing on how to fix our broken juvenile justice system through rehabilitative and restorative means, our leaders’ chosen path is to lower the minimum age of criminal (made semantically pleasing by substituting criminal with social) liability. May we as adults find ways to be more inspiring and to lead by example. And to all the children out there, you have what it takes to stand up to the forces of evil, of darkness. With a kind, generous, and forgiving heart, you all can be kings and queens.