Another random choice of film to take a look at, A Knight’s Tale is one I recently re-watched for the first time in years. Released in 2001, I was 13 when it came out in the cinema. I don’t actually think I sought it out, but I can remember its promotional push in the form of Robbie Williams and Queen’s collaboration on ‘We are the champions’, taken from the films soundtrack.
When I did eventually see it, I remember being pleasantly surprised, and upon its most recent viewing I was again left with this reaction. A story about inner-nobility, it’s meant to be set in the 14th century and follows young squire, William, who takes on the fake identity of Ulrich von Liechtenstein in an attempt to joust, win riches and change his stars.
At face value, A Knight’s Tale should not be my cup of tea at all. Frothy nonsense that leans more towards romance than adventure, it’s the film’s style and direction that makes it so watchable. From a jousting tournament with paupers and royalty alike singing to ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen, to a dance sequence set to David Bowie’s ‘Golden Years’, director David Helgeland uses a disco pop soundtrack to give a traditional tale a modern day makeover.
The music and some costume designs that wouldn’t look out of place in London Fashion Week juxtaposed over the medieval story gives the film a unique and disparate edge, and is the main reason why the film works as well as it does.
The other reason would be its cast, which as far as ensembles go is as charming as you’d like. Despite having acted in three features before hand, this is one of the first times people really started to take notice of Heath Ledger who shines as the leading man, although I’m sure at the time people wouldn’t have believed how great an actor he would become.
You also have Rufus Sewell doing what Rufus Sewell does best in his antagonist role, as well as the show stealing Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer which elevates the film considerably.
Whilst it hasn’t stood the test of time, A Knight’s Tale is under appreciated as far as I’m concerned. It’s bold and different enough, and I can’t help but admire it for doing something most film makers wouldn’t dream of. It’s worth digging out if you haven’t seen it in a while, and perfect for a Sunday evening’s viewing for the whole family.
Trivia Tidbit: When Chaucer first introduced “Sir Ulrich” in his speech, the crowd didn’t react at first because the Czech extras couldn’t understand the speech. Mark Addy’s loud prompt was what tipped them off to start cheering. The awkward moment was left in because it made the scene funnier.
Next Week: Harvey (1950)