My Favorite Movies #80 – A Knight’s Tale

A Knight's Tale - Poster 2A Knight’s Tale

2001

Directed by Brian Helgeland

Netflix says… After befriending aspiring writer Geoffrey Chaucer, squire William Thatcher persuades the scribe to forge documents passing William off as a bona fide knight — who soon becomes a jousting star while finding romance with an admiring princess.

  • It’s funny how a story can begin and evolve simply because someone was hungry and desperate.
  • William, Roland, and Wat are three squires in service of a knight named Sir Ector.
  • When Ector dies in the middle of a jousting match, in spite of being one last ride away from tournament victory, William (Heath Ledger) disguises himself as Ector and goes on to complete the competition.
  • This awakens (or re-ignites) William’s lifelong desire to become a knight, which he knows he could never be, simply because he’s the son of a peasant.
  • He convinces Roland and Wat to join him in creating Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein, giving him a chance to live his dream despite not being of noble birth.
  • Our trio are soon joined by Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany), whom you’ll all know from being forced to read The Canterbury Tales when you were in high school.
  • Geoff helps them with their ruse by creating a false yet realistic family tree for Sir Ulrich so he can convincingly enter more tournaments.
  • The gang also takes on Kate, a lady blacksmith who offers to replace William’s borrowed armor with a set that is lighter and stronger and actually made to fit him.
  • William falls in love with Jocelyn, a noblewoman who he spots at his first official tournament as Ulrich.
  • And, of course, there’s a bad guy. Count Adhemar is an arrogant butthead who never loses a tournament.
  • Until Ulrich starts competing.
  • Chaucer may be my favorite character in this movie. And maybe that’s the writer in me that enjoys his character so much.
  • His introduction of Ulrich during his joust against Thomas Colville (who turns out to be Edward, the Black Prince of Wales), is priceless.
  • “My lords, my ladies… and everybody else here not sitting on a cushion!
  • Adhemar is played by Rufus Sewell, who I don’t think I’ve ever seen play anything other than a villain.
  • Though, to be fair, I’ve only seen him in this, The Illusionist, and The Legend of Zorro. But he’s a jerk in those movies, too.
  • One of my favorite moments at the end. And I’m going to spoil it because, well, this movie has been around for 17 years now and if you don’t know the end result by now, shame on you.
  • When William is followed by Adhemar in London and he finds out his true parentage, William is arrested and put in the stocks for misrepresenting the nobility.
  • He’s set free by Prince Edward, who took a liking to William early on in the film.
  • His speech to the crowd rivals anything Chaucer says in any of his introductions…
  • “He may appear to be of humble origins, but my personal historians have discovered that he is descendant of an ancient royal line. This is my word, and as such is beyond contestation.”
  • I include that specific quote because ever since I first watched this movie, I’ve wanted to find a way to work that line into conversation… “This is my word, and as such is beyond contestation.”
  • It’s also incredibly fun to watch, in the background, as Roland and Christiana spark something of a relationship themselves. It’s not obvious, so just keep an eye out for it next time you watch it.
  • This is a fantastic movie and it’s incredibly entertaining.
  • Initially, I remember a lot of people questioning the filmmakers’ choice to use classic rock for the soundtrack, but I think it’s brilliant.
  • What’s wrong with being a little anachronistic with the music? It’s a fictional account that’s very loosely based on historical figures. Who’s to say a merry band of minstrels wouldn’t have played a jaunty tune that sounded somewhat similar to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”?
  • If you’ve never seen it, I would suggest that you find it and watch it.

Come back next week when we re-enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Chamber of Secrets. I know, they’re all out of order on my list. But that’s what happens when you pick favorites.

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