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MOVIE REVIEW: A Knight’s Tale
So I was looking for something to watch on a Saturday night and came across A Knight’s Tale. Yes, that’s right, I’ve never seen the movie in spite of the fact that it’s been around for years, so shoot me. First off, before everyone jumps on the “It’s not really medieval, it’s got rock music in it” bandwagon, let me say, I know that. This review isn’t going to be about historical accuracy and if you’re looking for it, don’t even bother with this movie, because it’s not remotely accurate.
The movie begins with three squires, William Thatcher played by the late Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain, The Dark Knight), the sarcastic Roland played by Mark Addy (The Full Monty, Game of Thrones) and Wat played by Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame, entering a jousting match because their master, Sir Ector has died. William dons Sir Ector’s armour and goes on to win the tournament in the guise of his former master. Afterwards, William is no longer satisfied with his lot in life and decides that they can make a living jousting and improve their situations instead of returning home to England penniless peasants. Along the road to Rouen (see what I did there?;) ), they run into a very naked Geoffrey Chaucer, played brilliantly by Paul Bettany who helps them provide forged patents of nobility so that William can joust as the knight Ulrich Von Liechtenstein. What’s cool about that is there was actually a famous knight named Ulrich Von Liechtenstein in the thirteenth century who supposedly, according to his “biography” defeated all his opponents in jousting tournaments. William goes on to Rouen to joust against the pretentious knight, Count Adhemar of Anjou, the villain, played by Olivier and Tony award nominee, Rufus Sewell. He competes against Adhemar to win the love of the beautiful Lady Jocelyn played by Shannyn Sossamon (Wristcutters: A Love Story, The Order). From here, storyline trudges along in typical fashion – i.e., corny medieval dialogue, plenty of jousting, great music, William’s big identity reveal and a cheesy happy ending.
Peter warned me about A Knight’s Tale saying,’ you have to go into it suspending your inner historian – just have fun with it and enjoy the “nod” to the Middle Ages’. I completely agree. This isn’t a movie where the director, Brian Helgeland, was trying to win awards for historical accuracy. This is an alternate universe – a mish-mash of medieval and modern made to appeal to mainstream audiences and what they think the Middle Ages was like, minus the rock music.
Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk do fantastic jobs as the humorous side kicks and provide plenty of comedic relief but by far, my favourite character has to be that of Bettany’s Chaucer. He’s incredibly funny and delivers in every scene with lines like, “The protector of Italian virginity” when introducing William before a joust. He alleviates some of the forced humour and slapstick with witty dialogue. He’s a gem and I loved his take on Chaucer.
Rufus Sewell plays the typical medieval villain and he’s rather forgettable truth be told. The same goes for Sossamon, anyone could’ve done the same as lady Jocelyn and probably better. Addy, Tudyk and Bettany are far more memorable characters. James Purefoy (The Following, Rome) has a small role as Edward, the Black Prince but he’s a scene stealer and made the most of the little time he spent on screen.
Love this movie? There many medievalists out there who do and it has a bit a of a cult following because we know the movie isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Medievalists correspondent Danièle Cybulskie wrote a great piece entitled, Five Things to Love About A Knight’s Tale, which points out some fun facts about the movie. So, if you’re in on a Sunday night, or weekday and looking for something fun, lighthearted and “medieval”, definitely check out A Knight’s Tale.