A 12th-century courtly romance spoken in verse and largely musicalized, shot entirely in studio sets that recreate the gilded surfaces and stylized dimensions of medieval illuminations - Eric Rohmer's Perceval is unique, to say the least. Yet, just as Rohmer made a Pascalian talkfest (My Night at Maud's) into one of the most entertaining films of the '60s, and a static and theatricalized German novella (The Marquise of O) into a maelstrom of repressed passion, this master of paradox surprises us once again. For all its scholarly scrupulousness, Perceval is not in the least esoteric - Rohmer intended it to be accessible even to children, and it moves with the lightness and verve of a vintage RKO musical. The hero - taken from Chretian de Troyes' 12th-century text - is a simple Welsh lad who sets out to be an Arthurian knight with a blunt and often very funny forthrightness that Rohmer has patterned partly after Buster Keaton. Perceval's adventures lead him through a uniquely enchanting world of beautiful maidens, bloody combats, strange spells, and shining castles, and finally to a very moving quest for faith.
According to Andrew Sarris, “Perceval is unlike any other film ever made. Should not be missed by any cultivated moviegoer.”