Inspired by "The Canterbury Tales," as well as the early life of William Marshall (later First Earl of Pembroke), this is the story of William, a young squire with a gift for jousting. After his master dies suddenly, the squire hits the road with his cohorts Roland and Wat. On the journey, they stumble across an unknown writer, Chaucer. William, lacking a proper pedigree, convinces Chaucer to forge genealogy documents that will pass him off as a knight. With his newly-minted history in hand, the young man sets out to prove himself a worthy knight at the country's jousting competition, and finds romance along the way.Written by
The three squires, Mark Addy, Heath Ledger and Alan Tudyk, went on to play roles of royalty. Mark Addy played king Robert Baratheon on HBO's Game of Thrones; Heath Ledger portrait The Joker (Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime) on Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight; and Alan Tudyk voiced King Candy in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph. See more »
In the scene for the final joust, between long shots and close ups, Jocelyn's arm changes from being through the father's arm to resting beside it several times. See more »
After the credits finish, Roland, Wat, Kate, and Geoffrey Chaucer have a flatulence contest/drinking game. Wat loses, but Kate is the obvious winner. See more »
The DVD includes six extended/deleted scenes:
A scene of Will, Roland and Wat around a campfire during the training, where Will comes up with the idea for sir Ulrich's crest: a phoenix. Wat and Roland say there should be three phoenixes, since there's three of them.
Lord Adhemar's original introduction scene, where he slaps around one of his servants while having his armor fitted, and reference is made to the "triple phoenix" design of Sir Ulrich's crest.
Chaucer giving another substantial introduction for Sir Ulrich, similar to the first one, right before his match with Lord Adhemar. He berates Adhemar's herald before the speech; after the speech, Adhemar's herald appears impressed, which leads to his imitation of Chaucer's style later in the film.
When Adhemar leaves the dance, we find out the reason for his pained expression; in a deleted scene, he reveals to a monk that he is tone-deaf, and has never been able to hear music as anything more than noise. Adhemar then strides out into the midst of the poor, waiting outside the castle for handouts, and starts a riot by throwing food and money into the crowd.
Another deleted scene has Will, Roland, Wat, and Kate seeing Chaucer walking back to their quarters naked again. They follow him, but it turns that he was fetching food for his wife, Phillipa (who is also naked), and had not lost his clothes gambling like they thought. They leave, laughing, and run into Jocelyn and Christiana. Christiana and Roland leave together (with a suggestion of romance), William and Jocelyn leave together, but when Wat holds out his hand for Kate, she just hands him a pastry and walks off. Wat says "Hey, Beautiful" to the pastry and walks off happy anyway.
The original version of the scene with William in the stocks is considerably longer, and has an extensive speech by Chaucer (which is probably his best in the film). Rather than having the crowd calmed by the appearance of Prince Edward, the crowd is converted by Chaucer's speech, and has already begun chanting "William, William!" by the time the Prince reveals himself. A much stronger version of the scene, but cut down in favor of having the Prince's role expanded.
The first time I saw A Knight's Tale (on cable, missed it in theater), I had the same reaction as many of you - Queen? David Bowie? In a movie set in the middle ages?
But I stayed with it, and I'm glad I did. Once you get past the glaring anachronisms (put in the film on purpose, of course), you find the movie is actually quite true to its period.
The presence of Chaucer in the film, combined with some of its details, leads me to suspect that Brian Helgeland has read "Chaucer's Knight" by fellow filmmaker Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame). The book deconstructs the knight in Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale" in a totally unique way -- he is seen NOT as the flower of medieval chivalry (as most scholars have interpreted him), but as a mercenary out for nothing but money and blood. The character in the film Chaucer would have written about, then, is not Sir William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), but Count Adhemar of Anjou (Rufus Sewell).
The part of the film in which this connection "clicked" for me was the scene where Count Adhemar is called away to his command in a "Free Company" -- a particular stain on the reputation of knighthood which Jones talks extensively about in his book.
Jones' book made use of extensive research into medieval history, and Helgeland's film obviously does, too.
Chaucer was a master of satire in his day. Helgeland's use of modern conventions in a period film is a conceit of which - I believe - Chaucer would definitely have approved.
I gave "A Knight's Tale" 9 out of 10 - it's not perfect, but I like it so much, I try to watch it every time it comes on (it's been on HBO and Cinemax pretty regularly for the past several months). Check it out!
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