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Knight's Tale

A movie directed by Brian Helgeland

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So Bad that it Hurts! Oh the anachronisms!

  • Mar 5, 2002
  • by
Pros: i didn't pay for it

Cons: the anachronisms and cliches made me ill

The Bottom Line: Made me angry for hours after having seen it. I'm sure that there are a million better scripts out there. Why did this get produced?

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

I am a very enthusiastic person and I tend to overuse superlatives. At least once a day (my friends can attest to this) I will say something like, "That is the cutest baby EVER!" or "She is the stupidest girl I have ever met." But I think I can say with certainty that...

This was the worst movie I have ever seen!!

They were showing this film for free in my dorm's bar (yes, my dorm has a bar. going to university in London rules!) and since my friends and I had spent lots of money the night before, we figured we'd stay in and watch it. I thought about leaving and going to sleep since sleeping would have been more intellectually stimulating than watching this film. I feel like it has robbed me of precious brain cells by its utter awfulness!

I have read some other reviews that have said that the modern twists made the movie witty and original, but they just aggravated me. I hate anachronisms (a.k.a. historical inaccuracies) and this film was full of them. Little things tend to bother me in films and ruin my enjoyment of them. The number one thing that I find annoying is when movies try to be realistic but aren't. For instance, in Good Will Hunting I just couldn't get past how ridiculously easy it was for Matt Damon's character to solve the most complex math problems in the world? How could he be SOO much better than everyone else? But back to the topic at hand...

The Plot

The plot of this film was so conventional that I stopped paying attention to it after a while because I knew what was going to happen. A young commoner (William Thatcher, played by Heath Ledger, who is far too pretty to be a real medieval jouster!) really wants to be a knight so his father sends him off to be trained by a jousting master. His master dies and he and his buddies miraculously run into Geoffrey Chaucer who helps William forge a document which makes him a knight -- Sir Oreck Von Lichtenstein, or something equally as silly. William sees a lovely lady named Jocelyn who is some sort of vague member of the nobility (they don't really explain this) and falls in love with her. Then his jousting becomes even more inspired since he wants to win her love. Blah. blah. blah.

Another (even more cliched) aspect of the plot is that William has not seen his father for several years and the old man does not know whether or not his son is dead. William, of course, wants to make his father proud by becoming a knight. This part of the film uses a lot of horrifyingly cheesy flashbacks, using a little boy who has the same hairstyle as Heath Ledger. Gag me!

But worse yet is that a REAL knight is also in love with Jocelyn and tries to both defeat William in jousting tournaments and uncover his real identity in order to win Jocelyn from him. In classic bad film fashion, this character is pure evil and has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Similarly, William, Jocelyn, and the other "good guys" (with the exception of Chaucer who has a gambling problem) are entirely good and never do anything wrong. How realistic!

The "boy born poor who works his way up in the world and wins the love of a beautiful, rich, woman due to his extraordinary talent and stops her from marrying a horrible man" has been done SO many times! Why portray it again?

Things that Happen in this Film that Would Never Happen in The Middle Ages

The character of Jocelyn is very unrealistic. First of all, a woman of that time period would not look like her! She has the body, face, hair (and teeth!!) of a modern woman. She resembles Lisa Bonet. Yes, admittedly, pretty, but she never would have existed back then. Also, her behaviour seemed extremely out of line! She is very forward and flirtatious and their sex scene is really ridiculous... I could go on, but I won't. Her character definitely bothered me. There is no explaination as to exactly who she is, why she falls in love with William, and what her values are.

The music. This film had the soundtrack of a "Jock Jams" complilation album complete with Queen's "We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions", Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business," and (gasp!) THIN LIZZY's "The Boys are Back in Town." It just kept getting worse and worse. Why? Why? WHY??!!! It was meant to be funny, I'm sure, but it really aggravated me. There is a scene where William and Jocelyn dance at a ball in some palace. At first, they do the traditional, understated dancing style. But then they start playing a Davie Bowie song and launch into more modern dance styles. It made me want to scream.

There are many other anachronisms that you will notice if you watch this film, but this review would go on for pages and pages if I mentioned any more of them.

The worst part of all

There is a lovely woman who makes William's armour. Of course, they don't explain exactly who she is, and her character is never developed, but anyway... At one point, they show her making him a new set of armour that is more lightweight and easy to move around in. There is a closeup of her engraving a NIKE SYMBOL on the armour! Appalling! Horrible! Corporate sponsorship!! What are the film makers trying to show? If you have any insight, please let me know.

Overall, this movie was horrendous and made me furious. I am sure that some of the things I mentioned that made me angry would not bother everyone. So, some people may like this movie. Or maybe you would enjoy laughing at it. For me, adding modern touches to a period piece type movie just shows that the film makers were too lazy to do their research properly!


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More A Knight's Tale reviews
review by . August 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   This is my favorite Heath Ledger movie he ever did. It is similar to a standard fantasy tale involving a boy growing up poor, and dreaming big -- until they turn things on their head every now and then (but not in a Mel Brooks sort of way). For instance, having the herald leading the crowd at the joust in a rousing rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You" was just inspired genius. They don't break the fantasy illusion too much, and they don't break the 4th wall …
review by . October 19, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I didn't have much interest in this when it first arrived in theaters. Back then Heath Ledger was, to my mind, just another young handsome face and this seemed like a sappy star vehicle designed to further his career. Of course, he turned out to be much more than a handsome face and if I'd bothered to see this film I would have known it then. Not only does he give a charismatic and compelling early performance, the film itself is a lot of fun: a very clever and entertaining update of the old knight …
review by . September 04, 2004
A Knight's Tale really works. It's eye candy, not brain candy, but it worked a treat for me. I thought the potential love triangle was left sadly unexplored (especially as there wasn't really any chemistry between Will and Jocelyn), but otherwise, full marks: Sewell was a great villain, the father/son bit was done nicely (you should see Cheapside nowadays, by the way), and I thought the rock music worked extremely well. Finishing with Ackadacka was just inpired (so much so that School of Rock took …
review by . February 16, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Yes, our young hero trains to be a great jousting knight to the sounds of "Takin' Care of Business" in "A Knight's Tale." That scene, along with the "We Will Rock You" opening, among others, definitely sets this period piece apart from the pack. "A Knight's Tale" is fun. It has that "poor kid does good" theme running throughout and can be very heroic and sentimental at times. But don't expect this flick to blow you away. It is very good, and quite unique, but the overall story is rather standard …
review by . November 28, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: An interesting twist on historical themes as light entertainment, and some great comedic moments.      Cons: Poor characterization, simplistic, and predictable      The Bottom Line: All the friends I have recommended this to either attend our local Renaissance Festival and are avid jousting fans, or can't resist a man in armor.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Something nearly …
review by . July 23, 2001
Pros: Exciting, sometimes predictable, creative, funny, excellent casting, deep yet light     Cons: back view male nudity, sexual allusions, not historically accurate      The Bottom Line: Like encountering a gleaming sapphire in sooty soil, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Light and funny-it has a deeper side. One of the best movies released in years.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. …
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About this movie


In the Middle Ages, before television or professional sports, there is only one form of competition to separate the men from the boys: jousting tournaments. William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a poor and humble squire, has always dreamed of proving himself worthy as a knight. When he gets a lucky chance--seeing an opportunity to disguise himself in the identity of a knight--William decides to maintain the illusion for as long as possible. He is aided by his friends Wat, Roland, and Geoffrey Chaucer--a writer with a knack for forging official papers. Under his new title, Sir Ulrich of Liechtenstein, William wins tournaments and receives monetary awards. However, the only way for William to prove himself as truly noble is to beat out all of his enemies, including the arrogant and undefeated Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), in a series of jousts. Once he does so, William will reveal his his true identity. Writer-director Brian Helgeland creates a unique blend of rousing adventure, comedy, and modern sensibility i...
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Director: Brian Helgeland
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: May 11, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: June 4, 2002
Runtime: 2hr 12min
Studio: Sony Pictures
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