A Knight S Tale Movie Essay Reviews
In A Knight’s Tale, Aussie heartthrob Heath Ledger is William Thatcher, a squire with big dreams who masquerades as a nobleman so that he can join the joust. Aided by endearing comic sidekicks who serve as a lance-handling pit crew, he goes on a winning streak, woos a fair maiden and does battle with a dastardly black knight. But Camelot it ain’t. This breezy, jocular film offers a fresh twist on classic knights-in-shining-armor stories when modern slang and classic rock playfully sneak up on the pious prose of the period and give it a wedgie. Peasants and royalty stomp, clap and sing Queen’s "We Will Rock You." At a dance, lyre and harpsichord morph into David Bowie’s "Golden Years." Arena rock meets 14th century Europe in this offbeat marriage of Rocky, Grease and Robin Hood.
positive elements: It’s a good-hearted flick full of likable characters, especially the ragtag band of friends willing to humbly support William’s ambitions. They teach him to joust. They teach him to dance. They sew clothes for him, make armor for him and collaborate on a romantic letter of apology for him. That camaraderie gives this jelly donut of a movie its sweet center. The idea that people can rise above social status and achieve great things also takes the fore. William allows an opponent to lose in a dignified manner. Evil Count Adhemar is merciless, in sharp contrast to the sportsmanship and compassion displayed by William (they vie for the affections of Jocelyn, who notices this disparity in character and gives her heart to William—the true "noble" man). William and his friends adopt into their clique a female blacksmith shunned by the men in her profession, and proceed to treat her with respect. Although pal Chaucer is humorously portrayed as a chronic gambler, his misfortune and self-proclaimed addiction clearly show the down side. When William eventually reunites with his aging father, their loving commitment to each other makes these peasants seem richer than the finest-dressed lord (he proudly chooses to joust under his family name in the climactic contest). Nobility is not a birthright, but a matter of the heart.
Even so, the best moment in A Knight’s Tale could prove to be the year’s best moment in film, period. [Spoiler Warning] Just before his final showdown against Count Adhemar, William’s true identity comes to light. The jig is up. He receives warning that he has been disqualified from the tournament and will surely be arrested. His friends tell him to hightail it into the woods. Even Jocelyn promises to escape along with him. William refuses. "I will not run!," he shouts, willing to accept responsibility for his actions and endure public disgrace in the name of honor. Wait, it gets better! Placed in a pillory, William is scorned and condemned by angry townspeople. All is hopeless. That is until the heir to the throne of England strides up. The prince, who had been shown mercy earlier in the film by William, does what only a man of his virtue and authority could do. He pardons William. Not only is the young man released, but he is given a title of nobility contestable by no man. It is a fantastic, human illustration of mankind’s redemption by Jesus Christ. Unable to escape sin, we all face judgment and humiliation at the hand of our accuser (Satan). There is absolutely no escape apart from a royal pardon by the only person with the authority to release us and call us holy—Jesus. Despite some disappointing content (below), this film offers mature viewers an outstanding vehicle for discussing the Gospel with unsaved friends.
spiritual content: While not overtly spiritual, a pivotal scene models Matthew 5:7 and demonstrates God’s redemptive love for humanity. Several casual mentions of Christ are reverent. At one point, the camera strolls past a man on the side of the road preaching about Peter’s denial of Jesus. Sadly, a few other characters—ignoble foils—model a faith steeped in piety or oppression. The line, "If a man believes enough, he can change the stars" gives a subtle nod to astrological predestination.
sexual content: Nothing explicit, though a conversation amongst William’s friends deals with the beauty of a Jocelyn’s breasts (which are exposed just a little too much in one outfit). Prolonged shots of Chaucer’s bare, filthy backside aren’t sexualized, but neither are they necessary (gambling often results in his losing his shirt ... and shoes ... and pants). The film’s most disappointing element actually appears in the TV commercial—an implied night of passion between William and Jocelyn (she enters his bedchamber, they kiss and the scene fades). Also, while most of the modern music grafted into this 94-minute renaissance festival won’t offend, the song chosen to usher in the end credits will: AC/DC’s bawdy anthem "You Shook Me All Night Long."
violent content: Frequent violence is limited to jousting, fistfights and bloodless swordplay.
crude or profane language: Fewer than 10 profanities mar the dialogue, including about four variations on the s-word.
drug and alcohol content: Some beer and wine, but no drunkenness.
conclusion: Commenting on the film’s quirky clash of pop cultures, Brian Helgeland told Entertainment Weekly, "When we tested it, most people dug it, but the people that didn’t like it really didn’t like it." What’s likely to turn off discerning viewers more than those clashing cultures are several unfortunate moments that have the impact of a lance’s glancing blow to the shoulder—not enough to knock you off the horse, but still wince-worthy and regrettable. On the other hand, what’s good here is very good—a cheery, clever romp with lots to discuss.
Clearly, you need to be in your wee teens to enjoy this movie.
Ok, it's not the music or the historical accuracy I care about in this movie, and indeed, it claims no accuracy in either field. But that's rather the point, and an interesting idea, but sadly this is as original as it gets.
Every character fits neatly into the classic Hollywood stereotypes; the unorthodox, handsome, honest, jovial, happy-go-lucky hero (and his companions) on the one side (Heath Ledger), and the conservative, thoroughly evil, treacherous, conniving antagonist (Rufus Sewell), who is ever plotting the hero's downfall, on the other. It's the classic cliché - the good guy is all good, and fights honourably; the bad guy is all bad, and fights dirty.
And of course there has to be a woman between them, who naturally favours the good guy. This childish lovestory is completely uncalled for, and the moment our wannabe hero eyes Jocelyn (Shannon Sossamon), the rest of the movie becomes too predictable to bear. At this point, I started chewing on my ticket, as I sat there in the cinema(it seemed like the thing to do, under the circumstances).
The clichés just kept mounting, and it took every ounce of my willpower to stay the duration of this movie. There wasn't a single element of surprise in the entire film, and this doomed the film from the very beginning. It's the American dream, isn't it (AKA your run-of-the-mill fairytale)? Here's the peasant hero, who becomes a knight and gets the princess. Of course, since his being a knight is a lie, this will have to be revealed (and of course it's the evil adversary who busts him), but wait! Here's Prince Edward to the rescue, because the hero was nice to him earlier. The peasant becomes a bona fide knight, and can finish the movie.
This movie COULD have been made good, if only the clichés had been avoided. The worst clichés are:
I The love plot (it's identical with those in your average bed time story)
II The stereotypes (even worse here than in 'Gladiator')
III The father (can someone give me a good reason why HE should be dragged into this mess?)
But worst of all, the most unforgivable element in the entire film...
(SPOILER ALERT, I guess...) ...is when the hero, badly wounded, heroically jousts against his nemesis WITHOUT ARMOUR. This is the most nauseating, dishonourable and despicable thing I've ever seen. Was this scene supposed to arouse any other emotions than pure hatred?
Sure, there were laughs, several hilarious moments, but not nearly enough to save this turkey.
And I thought the lady blacksmith was far more attractive than that damnable princess anyway (if you have to have a love story, THAT's the way to go).
My rating: 1/10, because that's as low as the scale goes.
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