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A Knight's Tale reviews

The New York Times
May 11, 2001, Friday, Late Edition - Final
FILM REVIEW;
In Merrie Olde England, Waving His Banner All Over the Place
By ELVIS MITCHELL

If you're part of Gen Y or younger, the concept of using the martial rock 'n' roll of the 1970's for source music in "A Knight's Tale" is a funny idea.
The movie, shamelessly aimed at that generation, is "Flashdance" with lances instead of Danskins. It is about the opportunity for reinvention that
pop has come to represent and the punk ethos of "seize the day."
Set in England in the 14th century, the film starts with a crowd at a jousting match doing the Wave as Queen's "We Will Rock You" plays. The
picture itself is good-humored, but bland and predictable. It's a cross between an All-American vaudevillian version of "Shakespeare in Love" and
Mel Brooks's "Robin Hood: Men in Tights."
The hero of "A Knight's Tale," William (Heath Ledger), is locked into serfdom, and is determined to change his stars -- the medieval variant of
"Go for it." William wants to be a knight and seizes the opportunity when the knight he serves dies; William pretends to be nobility and adopts a
ludicrously royal-sounding name, since "only noble knights can compete."
Brian Helgeland, who wrote and directed the film, must have felt the need to make a movie about a man of principle. Simple human decency was
mostly lacking in the characters in "L.A. Confidential," the adaptation that he co-wrote of James Ellroy's existential classic, and in his half-strangled
remake of John Boorman's "Point Blank," the 1999 "Payback."
Like the protagonists of "L.A. Confidential" and "Payback," William is an outlaw, although, unlike the characters in those films, he wants acceptance,
not just respect.
For the new picture's spiritual inspiration, Mr. Helgeland uses the swinging 1960's, when the British learned that style could rise from what they
perceived to be the gutter. But this groovy notion is where Mr. Helgeland stops thinking.
William and his friends and co-conspirators -- the stout fount of common sense Roland (Mark Addy) and the quick-to-anger Wat (Alan Tudyk) --
are joined by a compulsive gambler named Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany). Chaucer becomes the de facto creator of William's legend.
Mr. Helgeland doesn't exploit Chaucer's presence to score heavy points and slow the picture down, though "A Knight's Tale" is certainly draggy
enough as it is. Chaucer has the pale, gaunt countenance of the 60's pop star Ginger Baker, with his strutting sense of entitlement and rollicking
talent for gaining attention. Chaucer is a well-meaning reprobate.
The song choices include "The Boys Are Back in Town," "We Are the Champions" (of course) and Rare Earth's lugubrious cover of "Get Ready."
The songs could be out of the slacker film "Dazed and Confused," which could be a subtitle for "A Knight's Tale," given the hits William endures
while jousting. The tournaments are treated like an X-treme sport.
"Most of it is the guts to take a blow," William says, which makes him the Jake La Motta of the lance. The always witty composer Carter Burwell
lets his score comment on the arena rock bombast; he adds a percussive backbeat to the lute, flutes and mandolins and tosses in a bit of John
Philip Sousa, too, to augment the saber-rattling.
The costumes have the retro wit of an Arena Pour Homme fashion layout. William sports a tunic that Roland has whipped up for his "master" out of
cloth from a tent, and his handiwork would make the designer Marc Jacobs chew his lower lip in envy. These well-groomed androgynes with their neat,
tailored outfits are sleek hipsters.
The draggy follow-your-dream theme is where Mr. Helgeland put his effort, and this limpid ideal represents the film's heartbeat. Mr. Helgeland accords
the slack sentimentality too much weight. But he has put together an impressive ensemble; there aren't many movies in which the actors use their
voices so well, making each line reading memorable.
Rufus Sewell steals the picture as the villainous Count Adhemar, delivering his high, light croak with a mellifluous purr in the cadence
of a man convinced of the import of his own words.
William flirts with Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), who Adhemar thought was meant for him. This takes place at a dance, where William gavottes with
Jocelyn as David Bowie's "Golden Years" plays and the fey Adhemar swoons. This could be a crowd dance number out of "Saturday Night Fever" via
John Hughes.
Mr. Ledger's William, despite being born a peasant, speaks as if to the manner born, trilling like landed gentry. With his manners and old man's voice,
William is already the stuff of the House of Lords, so the inevitable wait for him to get his due feels interminable.
Mr. Ledger has a courtly manner, though, and he's very likable; he pays attention to the other actors and is bowled over by Ms. Sossamon. Although
he's the star, he cedes scenes well. To further connect with the young audience, William's dirty blond hair is stylishly tangled in dreadlocks. He's an
antediluvian skate punk.
But "A Knight's Tale" is half anachronistic, in ways that don't make sense. The way William courts Jocelyn is slightly puzzling. She is just as brash as
William; with her physical confidence, she seems just as capable of jousting as he is. It seems old-fashioned for her to wait around for him to court her.
This is just a way for the movie to put its audience on the side of the hero and his band, which includes Kate (Laura Fraser), a grrrl-blacksmith who isn't
taken seriously by the grizzled village smithies. Kate responds by designing form-fitting lightweight armor for William; in effect, she invents tempered steel,
which she emblazons with her logo, a Nike-like swoosh. Given more time, she might have developed Kevlar and the Taser gun, but I guess it's best to
save something for the sequel.

"All human activity is within the artist's scope," Chaucer says, though what he may mean for this movie is just the activity captured in a crossbow's sight.
"A Knight's Tale" has its Gen Y audience in the cross hairs, and it probably won't miss.

The New York Post - May 11, 2001

A Bright & Sunny Knight - Modern & medieval mesh in jousting 'Tale'
A KNIGHT'S TALE. With Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Shannyn Sossamon. Directed and
written by Brian Helgeland. Running time: 132 mins. Rated PG-13:  Action violence, jousting, some nudity and brief sex-related dialogue.
The ad campaign is not lying, at least not to girls in search of a poster to kiss or   boys with dreams of glory. Heath Ledger in the charmingly          
spirited "A Knight's Tale" will, indeed, rock you — if your needs are simple enough an your idea of an artifact from the days of yore is classic rock.
One generation had its Ivanhoe, tilting and jousting for the love of both Elizabeth Taylor    and Joan Fontaine. This summer we havthe recently minted
teen idol Ledger ("The Patriot") as William, a thatcher's son trying against accepted wisdom to improve his lot by posing as a knight in battered armor.

William enters jousting tournaments as Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland and splits his winnings with faithful  squires Roland (Mark Addy)
and the apoplectic Wat (a funny turn by AlanTudyk).   Jousting suits him. Two charging linebackers armed with wooden lances crash
into each other on horseback. Whoever doesn't topple or get too many splinters in the eye wins. Commoners are barred, but then William is                         
no common commoner. As a construct of 21st-century writer and director Brian Helgeland (he wrote the Oscar-winning script for "L.A. Confidential"),
William dares to dream, or to "change his stars," as dad encourages him. There's one foolproof way to get people to sit still for a history lesson —
not that there is anything to learn here other than that armor is heavy and thatchers didn't have 401(k)s and that is to make history seem relevant to
even indistinguishable from, today. "A Knight's Tale" is set in 14th-century France, but with its cheerful hailstorm of anachronisms and classic-rock
soundtrack, there's nothing medieval about it.  "Gladiator," with its premonitions of the  World Wrestling Federation, is positivelysubtle compared to
"A Knight's Tale," which  has peasants singing Queen songs and doing the Wave.
 
Then there's the matter of Geoffrey Chaucer. Although his role in this tale is tongue-in-cheek, it's a little horrifying to  think that this may be someone's only
acquaintance with the enduring writer. "Geoff" Chaucer (Paul Bettany) joins William's ragtag band, proving his worth by forging the equivalent of a fake ID.
History lesson: Writing skills come in handy after all!  Bettany plays several of his scenes buck naked, ostensibly because a gambling  problem has taken
the shirt off his back. It need not have been Chaucer, and it need not have been the 14th century. "A Knight's Tale" is a routine story of a guy proving his worth
tohimself, the world and the prettiest girl in the bleachers. The historical setting is simply a device  to make it look fresh, and because the movie is so ingratiating,
the high spirits so infectious, it works.
Every knight needs a worthy opponent, and William has one in Count Adhemar. Rufus Sewell plays him as every inch the bad boy,
which could cause a fresh round of swooning from the maidens in the gallery. Sewell seems like an adult among a boisterous
crowd of kids on their first movie set.
William also has a fan (and a goal) in the beauteous Jocelyn, but novice actress Shannyn Sossamon is best when sitting silently in the stands under an
Audrey Hepburn hat. Not all actors can time-travel equally, even in fun.  A spinoff movie could be made about the scrappy blacksmith played by Laura Fraser.           
In a rewrite of history, she is not only the sole woman in her profession, she anticipates the Nike logo by six centuries.    
               
                
               

Associated Press
              
                
SECTION: Entertainment News  - May 8, 2001
At the Movies: 'A Knight's Tale'

By ANTHONY BREZNICAN, AP Entertainment Writer
You've gotta love a movie set during the Middle Ages that still works in product placement for Nike.
Sure, "A Knight's Tale" is set in the 14th century, but it takes its sensibilities from the 1980s, thanks mostly to a soundtrack
filled with arena-rock songs like Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business."
Heartthrob actor Heath Ledger plays William, a peasant squire to an aging knight. William dreams of competing in jousting
tournaments, and when his boss drops dead from one too many lance-blows to the head, the squire dons the ill-fitting honor
and competes in his place.
The problem is that peasants are forbidden to participate in the competitions, so William must lie and make up evidence of
aristocratic heritage. Most of the suspense and comedy comes from his desperate efforts to hide his real identity while his
dimwitted squire friends keep forgetting to treat him like a knight.
The plot recalls another great tradition of the 1980s: the charismatic, scam-orchestrating youth undone by his own tricks.
Think "Ferris Bueller Goes Medieval."
Whether you enjoy it depends on what you expect. Purists may roll their eyes to the ceiling minutes into the movie when
tournament spectators begin dancing to Queen's sports anthem "We Will Rock You."
Then there's the scene where a blacksmith (Laura Fraser) inscribes the young knight's new armor with her professional mark -
which happens to look exactly like a Nike swoosh.
But this is an ideal summer movie: lighthearted, action-packed and full of guilty pleasures.
The jousting scenes are staged with zeal and, unlike the grim fighting epic "Gladiator," the performances constantly aim for the
funnybone.
Mark Addy of "The Full Monty" and Alan Tudyk are amiable as Ledger's fellow squires and confidants, now reduced to slaving for
him. They're all furious bluster and slapstick, a sort of Three Stooges for the Dark Ages.
But it's Paul Bettany who steals the show as an unemployed writer who teams with the erroneous knight-errant to help perpetuate
the fraud with forged documents and exaggerated tales of heroism. The writer's name? Geoffrey Chaucer, of course.
Here, the revered author of The Canterbury Tales is a kind of literary version of wrestling announcer Michael Buffer (known for his
booming "Let's get ready to rumble!"). Introducing his knight to the audience before jousting matches, he tells bogus stories of William's
battles during the Crusades and identifies him with titles such as "the defender of Italian virginity."
The film follows a recipe familiar to almost any Disney cartoon: Take one goodhearted hero, give him some odd-looking comical sidekicks
and have him face off against a blackhearted villain (Rufus Sewell) for the love of a fair maiden.
In this case, Shannyn Sossamon is the maiden, a noblewoman who dresses like Jackie-O at a rave, in sexed-up retro suits, or like one
of the Go-Go's, in ragged punk.
Writer-director-producer Brian Helgeland (an Oscar winner for his "L.A. Confidential" screenplay) sometimes derails his medieval story
with the "Super Sounds of the '80s," but it's an interesting experiment.
Most of the time, it works - except when the characters sing along.
The Columbia Pictures release is rated PG-13 for bloodless violence and brief nudity. Running time: 132 minutes.

"A Knight's Tale": Going Out on a Ledger"
By Teddy Durgin

May 7, 2001

There are going to be two kinds of reactions to this film: "That sucked!" or "That rocked!"  Call me a big ol' cheesehead, but I
belong to the latter group.  I haven't had this much fun at a movie all year!   The film is a silly, funny, wild, absurdist
fable about knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, and evil villains dressed in black.  It's big.  It's clunky.  You'll
cringe in spots, cheer in others.  There is no reality to it whatsoever.  But it's thrilling, exciting, romantic, and often funny as all Hell. 

The movie charts its own course and gives the finger to anyone who doesn't follow it on its crazy crusade.  Its part Renaissance
Festival, part Metallica concert, part Monty Python.

If you need everything to be hyper-realistic, stay at home and rent "Braveheart."  You won't get it.  You won't get the use of
Queen's "We Will Rock You" during a 14th century jousting match. You won't get knights that have Nike logos on their armor. 

You won't get Geoffrey Chaucer (played wonderfully by Paul Bettany) stealing the entire show with his hilarious riffs.

I, for one, do not need hyper-realism every time out.  I'm sick of realism.   It's everywhere now.  I love nothing more to
surrender myself to a good fantasy.  That's why people go to RenFests, don't they?   To walk around in the mud and pretend
they're in Medieval times?  I love to go to those things and watch the jousting and the fake swordplay, the cheesy plumbers
and secretaries and schoolteachers dressed up like warriors and witches.  Where else can you walk around with a giant Turkey

leg or Steak-on-a-Stick, call women "wenches," and not be belted for doing so? "A Knight's Tale" works splendidly on this level.

For those who can surrender themselves to the fantasy, here is what you'll get.   Heath Ledger and his bedroom eyes making all of
the women in the audience emit sounds that best belong in animal cages.  At times, I didn't know if I was in a movie theater or
the Baltimore Zoo.  Calm yourselves, lasses!  Ledger plays William Thatcher, a peasant who rises up to challenge the
dastardly Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell).  His lady love is   Jocelyn, a princess who looks more than a little like Angelina
Jolie.  She's played by newcomer Shannyn Sossaman, who was reportedly discovered while DJ-ing a birthday party for Gwyneth
Paltrow, the Hollywood princess who won an Oscar a few years back for "Shakespeare in Love."

Anyone who didn't take seriously fine entertainments like "Shakespeare in Love," "The Three Musketeers," and "The Sword and
the Sorceror" will have no problem getting into the spirit of this movie.  Hey, I'll be honest.  The thing is far from a masterpiece of tone. 

The mixing of styles doesn't quite work in spots.  It's "Naked Gun" silly in one scene and "Rob Roy" serious in the next, and the gear
shifting is a bit awkward.  But the overall film is so much good fun that I was able to forgive it its shortcomings.

Writer-director Brian Helgeland was clearly going for this mix of styles.  Would it have been better if he hadn't thrown arena rock
and other contemporary touches into the big scenes?  Possibly, but it wouldn't have had nearly the same flair.  I applaud
Helgeland for trying something different.

And as for Ledger, I'll admit the guy is handsome.  With his chiseled face and unkempt, blond locks, he looks like the
illegitimate child of Mel Gibson and Sammy Hagar.  One bizarre moment happened during my screening Saturday night that I have to
tell you about.  During one of the romantic scenes where Thatcher is wooing Jocelyn, something from the audience hit the screen.
It was immediately followed by giggles from several teenage girls a few rows back.   This happened after about the 500th close-up of
Mr. Ledger's million-dollar face.  I turned to my friend and asked, "What the Hell was that?"  Neither one of us knew, but the
distinguished older gentlemen behind us ventured a guess to his wife: "Uh, I'm not sure, honey, but I think that was a pair of
panties."  We didn't stick around afterward to find out.   ---

A Knight's Tale
by Dean Kish
from movielist.com - May 4, 2001

The sounds of the classic Queen song, “We Will Rock You” thunder as the camera drifts down onto a medieval stadium. The people jamming the stadium beat their wooden seats and railings as they chant to the lyrics of the song. From that pure instant you know very well this isn’t going to be your typical medieval story about knights, honor, fair maidens, and dragons.

A Knight’s Tale tells the story of William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a knight’s page who dresses as a knight after his liege dies of old age. He learns that he isn’t that bad at jousting and vows to become a knight even though he is forbidden to do so by law. For it is written, that a man of noble birth can only become a knight.

With the help of struggling writer Geoff Chaucer (Paul Bettany), William adopts the identity of Sir Ulrich von Lichenstein and vows to become the best knight in the land. Standing in William’s way are the fair maiden, Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon) and the evil Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell).

“A Knight’s Tale” is a very original and interesting take on knights in cinema. Its drive is centered in the charismatic performance of Heath Ledger, who helps ground the film in some much needed sequences. Ledger definitely shows his leading man qualities in this project. He will go a long way in Hollywood.

My favorite character in the film was Geoff Chaucer. As literature professionals know, the real Geoffrey Chaucer was responsible for writing the “Canterbury Tales” which did chronicle a lot of people of that day. The film’s incarnation is a brilliant humorous representative of that figure. He has such command of the English language but he is also very human. Paul Bettany’s Chaucer is a scene-stealer and I did really want to see more of his unique humor.

Placing Heath and Bettany aside, the main character of the film has to be the music. Having people chant lyrics that were created hundreds of years after the events in the film and then continuing with different songs throughout is very daring. I can see a lot of historians throwing tomatoes at the screen and writing article upon article screaming outrage. What these stuffy guys have to realize is that this is entertainment and popular music does grip the sports world of today. As the film stated, “jousting” was the sport of that age and it gripped nations. Every time we hear a face-off or a touchdown today, there is the thundering of a sports anthem. I am not sure if back in the 14th Century they had their own sports chants or ballads but I think if they were used here it may alienate the audience. Therefore I believe the music brings us into William’s world and allows us to enjoy the challenge of jousting.

Don’t get me wrong but the film did have flaws within its originality. I found that the film was at least 30 minutes to long and a supporting performance that was severely lacking.

The performance was the fair Jocelyn who for me was so clearly miscast. A lot of what she said made me wonder what William ever saw in her. This performance made me really want to see a real actress in the role. I mean she needed depth of emotion and inner turmoil to be shown on the surface of her character to allow her love for William blossom. I also saw very little chemistry between her and William. That was a real shame. Other problems with her were her attire and hairstyle. It looked like she was a reject from the 1980s (ie: spiked “Joan Jett” hair). The writers and the actress really needed to bring this character more depth and it never was accomplished.

In the lagging 30 minutes, I really felt sorry for Rufus Sewell, who plays William’s arch-enemy. The filmmakers used a lot of typical bad-guy stuff on William and that really pulled away from the originality of the film. Sewell tries a lot to show the emotions within the Count but he just doesn’t come through. Sewell is a good actor and this two-dimensional role really doesn’t help him here.

A Knight’s Tale is a lot of fun if you don’t over analyze it. You will cheer and feel good coming out. These aspects are all you need to enjoy for a summer movie.

University Wire
May 1, 2001

HEADLINE: 'A Knight's Tale' more light-hearted than you'd think
BYLINE: By Matt Mccormick, The Battalion
SOURCE: Texas A&M U.
DATELINE: College Station, Texas
BODY:
A Knight's Tale is great escapist fun-filled with romance, laughs and action. Unfortunately, though, the previews make it look like a film heavy on the attitude, rather than the light-hearted romp that it actually is.

William Thatcher (Ledger) has always dreamed of being a knight, however there is a slight problem -- Thatcher was born a commoner and only those of noble descent may be knights. When the knight which he works for dies, Thatcher devises a scheme whereby he may represent himself as a knight and enter competitions as knight to earn a living. With the help of a ragtag group of friends including a young and unappreciated Geoffrey Chaucer (the writer), Thatcher embarks on an adventure which will ultimately lead to the love of a princess and a battle with an evil knight.

This movie establishes early on that it does take itself seriously and therefore neither should the audience. When audiences at the knight competition which opens the film begin chanting Queen's "We Will Rock You," it becomes perfectly clear that historical accuracy is not a concern here.

This is only the beginning as the rest of the movie is set to semi-contemporary rock songs including a ballroom waltz to a song by David Bowie. While this strategy works as being innovative, it also lessens somewhat of the dramatic tension of the story.

Writer/director Brian Helgeland (Payback) had a very clear vision for this film and should be commended for attempting to try something new and fresh with a period piece. It is just that sometimes experiments do not work as exactly as planned

and one gets the sense that is what happened here. The characters are painstakingly detailed, the conflicts clear and engaging, but when the film itself is just having fun, it becomes hard for audiences to actually care about the characters and conflict. Instead, they just want more of the fun.

Thankfully, Helgeland recognizes that and paces the movie like a sports film as the group of heroes travel from city to city participating in competitions. The jousting matches themselves are the highlights of the film featuring several moments of bone bruising action. Ledger continues to demonstrate an easy demeanor in front of the camera, and this film is built solely around his sexiness and charm. He delivers accordingly. Newcomer Shannyn Sossamon is a worthy beauty to attract his attention. With supporters like Paul Addy and Rufus Sewell, the cast is nearly complete. However it is Paul Bethany as the struggling Chaucer who literally steals the show.

This movie is not one of the great dramatic films of the past decade, so if a person goes into this film expecting to have their emotions roused, they will probably be disappointed. But if a person goes into this film for the sole purpose of being entertained, then this movie succeeds marvelously.
thanks Rai

from Jo Blo's movie eporium - April 30
thanks, Marina!

A KNIGHT'S TALE
RATING: 7/10

Review Date:        April 30, 2001
Director:              Brian Helgeland
Writer:                Brian Helgeland 
Producers:           Brian Helgeland, Todd Black, Tim Van Rellim
Actors:                Heath Ledger as William Thatcher
                           Rufus Sewell as Count Adhemar
                           Shannyn Sossamon as Jocelyn
Genre:                 Drama/Action
Year of Release:  2001

PLOT:
The general who became a slave...the slave who became a knight...the knight who defied an Emperor...oops, wrong movie! Uuuuhhm, here we've got a peasant squire who pretends to be a knight, wins a few jousting matches and falls for Angelina Jolie...I mean, the noble babe. And...action! 

CRITIQUE:
A sure-to-be crowd pleaser. This movie's got a little bit of everything. A little bit of action for the boys, a little bit of romance for the girls and a little bit of humor, drama and happy-go-luckiness for everyone! Is it a great movie? Certainly not. It doesn't really bring to light a story that we haven't seen before (Gladiator!), doesn't avoid the trappings of sappy romantic dialogue from the day ("my love has wings so I must fly"??) and doesn't mind the occasional reference to a modern symbol that simply distracts (watch for the Nike wings that get carved into one man's fighting armor...I kid you not!), but alas, I had a good time. And that's the exact reason why some of these smaller details didn't bother me as much as they might another. I didn't expect to like this film, I expected to be bored, I expected lame action sequences, but ultimately, this film surprised me. It was entertaining, had some very cool jousting scenes and it even had my movie companion (my sis) close to tears at one point (yeah, yeah, I might've gulped a little harder than usual, too!). And the whole debate about the use of modern rock music in a medieval movie?

Well, I was for the music being in the film before I actually saw it, believing that it would only energize the proceedings. But now that I've seen it, I'm actually half-and-half on the topic. You see, the modern songs that play in the background during the film, worked just as I thought they would, spicing up the scenes as only the chorus of "Taking care of business" could. But where the filmmakers mucked up in my point of view, is when they actually had the folks in the movie grooving ALONG with some of the songs (i.e. in other words, they could also hear the songs in question). Now that didn't work for me! A crowd of medieval folk chanting along with Queen's "We will, we will rock you!" just felt...well, out of place! Anyway, enough about that. In the end, the film entertains and I guess that's the main goal of a picture as such. There are ups, there are downs, there are goofy moments, there are romantic moments and there are moments of action. The lead male is a babe and all of the central women in the film are also quite fetching. And Rufus Sewell, well, he's the bad guy again...but a damn good bad guy! Oh yeah, and lest me not forget to credit the filmmakers another notch for incorporating some empowered ladies into the mix of the medieval times as well. A welcome addition. So overall, I don't think that this film will blow anyone away, an effect it certainly did not have on me, but it looked good, it felt good...so it must've been good, right? Now go in, relax, have fun...and get medieval on your own ass!! (sorry, I just couldn't resist)

Cinescape Magazine
May/June-2001

There has been lots of baseball, football and basketball movies.  There have even been hockey, golf and bowling movies.  So it shouldn't be surprising that moviegoers are about to see the first jousting movie.

"It's Gladiator meets Rocky," admits Brian Helgeland, the writer/director behind A Knight's Tale.  The film stars Heath Ledger as a Middle Ages squire who hops on a horse and grabs a lance after his master meets a cruel fate at the armor-clad hands of an evil knight (Dark City's Rufus Sewell).  While questing for revenge, Ledgers character becomes jousting's Michael Jordan.

Of course when it came time to shoot the film's many tournament scenes on location in the Czech Republic, Helgeland couldn't turn to the National Jousting League for technical expertise.

"We had all these cars with fake horses that the actors were going to sit on and the stunt men fall off of, and it all looked terrible. " recalls Helgeland  (who also pilled writing/directing double duty on Payback).  "Finally, the stunt coordinator said, 'Let's just shoot jousting for real.'  But our stuntmen couldn't really joust, and we ended up getting this one guy named Tom DuPont who choreographs and performs the stunt show at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, and he flew out to Prague along with a French rider who performs in Renaissance fairs in Europe, and the two of them did just about all of the jousting in the movie - and did it for real."

As it turns out, DuPont didn't provide the film's only Vegas connection.  Another notable Sin City figure popped up in the film....sort of.    "Jousting is like boxing: the sport itself is real but the hoopla around it is over the top.  There's that boxing announcer who says, 'Let's get ready to rumble!'  It's like that," Helgeland says.  "And, in fact, that character in the movie is Geoffery Chaucer, the poet  [of The Canterbury Tales fame].  He's the guy making speeches to the crowd and getting them whipped up in support of Heath Ledger. Chaucer is the Don King of the Middle Ages.

..........................

A Knight's Tale
Director: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Paul Bettany, Nick Brimble.

Dark Horizon's "A Knight's Tale" site

Entertainment Weekly
April 27, 2001

A KNIGHT'S TALE
STARRING Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Brian Helgeland
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? It could make Heath Ledger the biggest Aussie import since Russell Crowe.
Columbia is counting on this medieval adventure--the story of a charismatic squire (The Patriot's Ledger) who impersonates a knight and becomes a master jouster--to emerge as a summer blockbuster. The ingredients are certainly there: a rising young star, a playful love story, and plenty of action scenes, scored, strangely, to such classic rock songs as Queen's "We Will Rock You" and Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town."
"The idea is that it's running a parallel between sporting life back then and today," explains Ledger, though the artistic license appears to be polarizing audiences. "When we tested it," says Helgeland (who cowrote L.A. Confidential), "most people dug it, but the people that didn't like it really didn't like it." They should, however, love Ledger. "He's had a lot dumped on him for a guy who just read the script and thought it'd be a fun movie," says Helgeland. "Cut to a year later and the fate of the movie is, in some ways, put on his shoulders." (May 11)
Thanks, Rai


USA TODAY
April
27, 2001, Friday, FINAL EDITION

A Knight's Tale (May 11)

Same old story: Think Braveheart -- without the
social commentary -- for teens. Heath Ledger plays a medieval
peasant who longs to joust in the public arena. His problem: Only
nobility can fight with lances. When his knightly boss suddenly
dies, Ledger's character takes his gear, pretends he's a knight
and begins tilting himself. In traditional big-screen fashion,
he tries to beat the bad guy (Bless the Child's Rufus Sewell)
and win the girl (newcomer Shannyn Sossamon).

Will moviegoers bite? Ledger, who co-starred with Mel Gibson
in The Patriot last summer, has heartthrob potential, but
with the film opening only a week after the heavily hyped The
Mummy Returns, it will have a hard time winning the box office
battle.
Thanks, Rai


 

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