“A Knights Tale”

August 15, 2017 September 1st, 2019 Free Essays Online for College Students

This is the way the writer/director Brian Helgeland choose to start his new film, set in medieval times, about a servant who aspires to be a knight and, as luck would have it, gets his unlikely and highly risky chance at his peasant boy’s dream. Helgeland set it in the Middle Ages but scored it with modern stadium anthems, extreme modern music, up to date talk; in fact the only things that really differentiate this as a medieval movie is the set and costumes.

This is very apparent as the movie starts. Out on the tournament grounds, a crowd of impatient spectators -peasants and nobles alike- stomp their feet in time, bellowing the chorus to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Some of them have painted their favourite knights’ emblems on their faces like modern-day soccer fans and as we watch, the people at the back stand up and do “the Mexican wave”. Note to historians who hate inaccuracy: this is probably the time to leave, but if you do stay, you may well be surprised by how much you end up enjoying yourself. It’s just that infectiously silly and funny.

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The film stars Heath Ledger, as William Thatcher, a servant to a knight. The getting on knight is killed in a match and William soon realizes he and the fellow servants will either starve or have to eat boiled grubs for the rest of the year without their dead liege’s prospective prize money. Thus enters their saviour. Along comes a desperate and naked man who makes them an offer: “Clothe, feed and shoe me, and I’ll give you your patents!” Letters Patents are documents signed by a sovereign, conferring such rights as a title of nobility. The man offering to forge them introduces himself as Chaucer (Paul Bettany).

With the forged patents and the dead knight’s suit of armour to disguise him, William and his sidekicks Roland and Wat (Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk) along with Chaucer, put themselves through one of those standard movie training montages and are soon ready to enter a joust, which is the medieval version of golf, with your opponent as the ball. The rest of the movie is centered on a series of jousting matches, alternating with threats to unveil the secret of William’s identity. The rest is pretty much predictable: William meets girl (Shannyn Sossamon as Lady Jocelyn) falls in love, battles against the ‘black knight’ and ends up being the Jousting champion of the world.

There are many fearsome jousting matches in the movie, all of them playing with perspective and camera angles so that the horses and their riders seem to thunder at high speed for 30 seconds down a course that would take about five, until one knight or the other unseats his opponent three times and takes the victory. In fact there are many fabulous scenes like that; hair raising, edge of your seat, gripping with fear ones. For instance one of my favourite scenes was when William’s identity was unveiled and he was about to be beheaded. I for one, and I’m sure every other female audience member in the room was crying their hearts out, fearful for Heath Ledgers safety (yes, yes we all know its ‘just a movie’). About a second before the blade comes hurtling down, the future King of England, Prince Edward, orders that he be released. This act of kindness is because in one the jousting matches, William acted as a friend to the prince covering for him as so that the prince would not be found out.

A Knights Tale was nothing like the ‘Patriot’ or ‘Elizabeth’ where you receive real historical lessons. As soon as I saw the spectators of the jousting match singing and clapping to “We Will Rock You”, I immediately thought: this is not very realistic. But once you get past those first few scenes everything really grows on you. I must admit though, there was one scene that really got to me.

It was one small scene about halfway through “A Knight’s Tale”. Our hero, 14th-century peasant turned fake-but-champion jouster William, has placed second in his first tournament and been invited to ‘The Big Dance’ by his pin-up girl, Lady Jocelyn. Though rightly afraid he’ll be exposed as the fraud he is, he nevertheless manages to bewitch her, along with the rest of the hall, by performing a dance from his so-called ‘homeland’ — a boppy, freestyle thing which starts out vaguely in period, only to transform halfway through, into David Bowie’s “Golden Years”.

At the back of the hall, watching everyone bop away, stands the ‘Black Knight’, villain and Williams rival, Rufus Sewell, whose bug-like eyes seem to extrude even further at the sight. Eventually, he starts to hyperventilate and has to leave the room entirely, saying as he goes: “My God, am I actually the only one here who registers how completely historically inaccurate all this is?”

Hmm, yes alright. Lets just change the subject.

Apart from the few accuracy flaws, this is a fresh, fun and witty film. The humour is a bit cheesy at times but I, and every other audience member still laughed. The cast was brilliant. I wouldn’t have changed anything especially the talented (oh all right and absolutely handsome) charismatic Heath Ledger. And, the jousting/fighting scenes were very well done as well. Put that together with a little romance and a fantastic soundtrack and you’ve got yourself an entertaining and very well made flick.

The director (Brian Helgeband) cleverly avoided the trap of the intense period films that are brought to us in the bucket loads and offered a fresh new and innovative movie, with its extremely modern outlook. Additionally, the modern music is superb, helping to create what is an extremely funny interesting and entertaining piece, which innovatively captures an old story in a 14th century setting with humour and wit.

“A Knight’s Tale” is an action-packed adventure with plenty of drama and romance mixed into a well-written script with some corny lines. However, when it comes down to the action, the suspense, the adventure, the lances and the sword-fights, you can not resist this movie, for every flaw there is an equally creative, original element to balance it. If you enjoy action, romance and comedy, you’ll definitely enjoy “A Knights Tale”, one of the most enthralling and entertaining films of the year.


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