VIDEO: A Knight's Tale (2001)

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Take one sports movie, add Chaucer, comedy, the hits of Queen, and anachronistic metalworking, and serve with a side of naked Paul Bettany. Also on today’s episode: Palamon, Arcite, Emily, and the Bessemer process. Not necessarily in that order.

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  • Thomas Stockel

    Cool stuff. I avoided this movie because it just seemed…silly. I think I am maybe a little less uptight now so I think I am maybe in a better mindset to appreciate the film.

    • Jill Bearup

      It is definitely goofy as all-get-out. But it charmed me!

  • God I love this movie. Much more than I probably should actually, considering it actually ranks among my all-time favorites. Ridiculously entertaining, and so emotionally engaging it can still move me to tears. Yeah, I said it. How can you not cry when Will reunites with his blind father?

  • Muthsarah

    This is both one of the weirdest films I’ve seen and one of the laziest. I must assume the modern elements were added to make the period more interesting to “the youth today”, and thus make it viable enough to be greenlit, but the modern touches completely destroy the feel of the era, so…why even set it in the past? Why’s Chaucer even there if there’s nothing…Chaucerian about it? The obvious comparison is Moulin Rouge (and Latrec, respectively), but this movie seems to be running away from its own setting and themes even more than that film was, while being less inventive. Why are some of the characters dressed period-appropriate while others have modern dress and fashions….and still others look like they’re from neither period? If you wanted to make a modern movie about jousting, then set it at a Ren Fair or something, or in a dystopian future where jousting is popular again, or something equally baffling, just be consistent with SOMETHING. It would be subversive if it wasn’t also so obviously driven by a profit motive.

    I get that it wants to have it both ways: be a period film, but not alienating to teens who know or care nothing about the Middle Ages, but not only did it feel like it doesn’t work on any level, but that there isn’t enough substance to the story to work on more than one. It wants to be a historical action film (with sports for the jocks and name-dropping for the history nerds), and a modern romance (with modern female characters), and a shallow celebration of pop culture (with gleefully anachronistic musical numbers), all built around a plot that’s as simple and conventional as they come.

    I don’t hate the movie, I just think it’s bizarre. If the movie stuck to being a period romance with modern touches to make it more relatable to the youth, I’d get it. If it had a far more nihilistic touch, not just sporting modern hair, clothes, and music, but defying genre norms on a deeper level and making that the whole point of the movie, I think it could admire that a great deal. As is, the only elements of the film that stand out are the ones that don’t make sense, and so the only impression it leaves is confusion and disappointment. I’m not at all certain why this movie exists or what it’s supposed to be.

  • The_Stig

    I always thought Heath Ledger was just another pretty boy so I didn’t really appreciate how good he really was as an actor, but with Brokeback (yeah, make all the gay cowboy jokes you want, but it IS a great movie) he became awesome and won me over, forcing me to re-examine my opinion of his previous work, and of course he made The Dark Knight. I was deeply saddened by his death. A Knight’s Tale was one of those Ledger films I had an unfair opinion of. Looking back, it really is a fun movie with or without Paul Bettany. A very fun take on the sports movie genre. I really don’t mind the anachronisms because there’s so many of them there’s no way it wasn’t done on purpose. They have a Queen song in it for god’s sake.

    If you can get ahold of it, I suggest checking out Roar, the short-lived Fox series Ledger starred in before he hit it big.

    • Jill Bearup

      Quite a few of the anachronisms were just thrown in during production. Like the We Will Rock You opening sequence! The filmmakers said they wanted to use pop music for the score to get across that what they would have been listening to in 1340 was their equivalent of pop music.

      I think they just really love Queen, tbh, but I love Queen too, so I’m not that bothered.

  • Pratchettgaiman

    I always loved this movie. And it has Laura Fraser in it (aka Kate), who turns up so rarely (at least in stuff that gets over here to the US) and who I usually love when I can track her down. This is definitely a movie where the bit characters (Chaucer, the Black Prince, Kate, Roland, Wat, even Jocelyn’s extremely French lady-in-waiting played by a young Berenice Bejo) steal the show from the main three of Will, Jocelyne, and Adhamar (although Heath Ledger definitely not just a pretty face and does hold his own in my opinion)

  • MephLord

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the recap of Bend it Like Beckham. Should be an interesting study you take away from that movie.

  • My ex found this movie hilarious, so we watched it one time. I didn’t agree. Don’t get me wrong, there are some funny moments… but filling a movie with anachronisms because you can’t write character-based comedy isn’t funny to me.

  • Cyvaris

    I love the advice to “just say it with confidence and no one will care”. Yep, pretty much sums up how my Middle English class handled stuff in Uni.

    Also, the best “hey it’s that guy” in this is seeing Robert Baratheon slum about in 14th century England. Clearly a Knight’s Tale is a Game of Thrones prequel.

  • Muthsarah

    (just noticed your “debut” on Chez Apocalypse. I can’t comment there, because I’m not enough of an online tool that I have the supposedly-requisite website cookie-whatevers, so I’ll just comment here, again, what I was gonna comment there, because I couldn’t otherwise)

    Sweet! I’ve been following you, Ursa, for months on The Agony Booth (and the Greater Empire of Lindsay for years). Huzzah on your expansion! Excelsior and such!

    P.S. And if anyone reading this isn’t already following Chez Apolalypse (Nostalgia Chick, Todd in the Shadows, Phil the Bunny, Mavis of the Eventide, Paw, Oancitizen), seriously check it out. Just Google it.

    • Jill Bearup

      Thanks! (Course, Phil was already on Chez, so that means there are two of us on the Booth and Chez Apocalypse now!)