A Knight's Tale

Directed by Brian Helgeland
Starring: Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon, Alan Tudyk, Laura Fraser.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some nudity and brief sex-related dialogue.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
May 15, 2001

Last year around this time, Ridley Scott brought us a sword-and-sandal epic rich with pomposity and importance which, despite it's gorgeous period costumes, was horrendously historically inaccurate and repainted gladiator games as football. This year, writer and director Brian Helgeland gives us jousting as WWF wrestling and doesn't even pretend to be historically accurate, meaningful, or important. The result is silly, totally predictable and a rollicking good time. Three cheers for everyone involved.

Heath Ledger stars as William Thatcher, a peasant squire of Sir Ector (Nick Brimble). Sir Ector dies during a tournament and William takes his place, despite the punishment of death for impersonating a noble, and wins the tournament. He then hatches a scheme where, with the help of his fellow squires Wat (Alan Tudyk) and Roland (Mark Addy), he will enter international jousting tournaments as Sir Ulrich Von Lichentein. Along the way they pick up a gambler, unsuccessful writer, and forger of Noble Patents -- Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) -- who agrees to act as Sir Ulrich's herald. Of course there is also a lovely lady to woo, Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), a smug bad guy to defeat, Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), and lots of jousting.

The jousting scenes are filmed just right -- a perfect blend of excitement and humor. But then most of this film is a perfect blend: the dialogue moves seamlessly between modern and mock medieval language, the costumes blend time periods both beautifully and in an entertaining manner, the modern music under medieval action is hysterical and the movie even handles the love, honor, and noble poverty clichés well with only two painfully trite moments (William's defiant scream during the climatic last joust and the first young William and father scene).

The cast is also a blend of experience, from Christopher Cazenove (William's father), who seems to have had small parts in every film done in the last 20 years, to Shannyn Sossamon who has done absolutely no films prior to this one. Despite the range of experience, they all deliver fun-filled, lively performances, and with a few exceptions (Chris Cazenove being one, the gamblers being the others), are all stunningly attractive in various ways. YAY.

A Knight's Tale is a joy, a brainless beautiful joy. What more can one ask of a summer film?

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
A Knight's Tale (2001)

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A Knight's Tale (2001) -- VHS
A Knight's Tale (2001) -- DVD
A Knight's Tale: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc

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