Movie Review

A Knight’s Tale

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some nudity and brief sex-related dialogue

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Genre:
Action, Adventure
Length:
_____
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
_____
Relevant Issues
Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale

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Featuring: Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Laura Fraser, Paul Bettany
Director: Brian Helgeland
Producer: Tim Van Rellim, Todd Black, Brian Helgeland
Distributor: Columbia Tristar

If you were disappointed by “The Mummy Returns,” take heart. “A Knight’s Tale” has all the charm, campy-style, and action of a great summer hit. Writer/Director Brian Helgeland, receiving wide acclaim for “L.A. Confidential” and the less-stellar “Payback,” has written another tremendous screen adaptation. The story is not original or thought provoking, but it is a wonderful crafting of the 14th century ideas of Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Knight’s Tale.” I am not sure the film will inspire anyone to read The Canterbury tales, but those who have will appreciate this film even more.

A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the tyme that he first bigan
To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,

“A Knight’s Tale” centers on William Thatcher (played by the popular Australian actor Heath Ledger) who eventually assumes the false identity of Ulrich von Lichtenstein. His friends Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk) dream only of full stomachs and wine, William longs for more in life. The story opens with the three of them in a bit of a predicament. They are Squires to Sir Ector, a noble and a knight; you have to be of noble blood to be a knight. They are at a jousting competition and Sir Ector apparently suffered a deadly blow. This event awakens William childhood desire to be a knight. The film has some wonderful flashbacks to underscore this part of the plot. This technique is done extremely well and his better than just Thatcher retelling his story. The flashback is a scene where William asks his father if he can grow up to be a knight. An eavesdropping friend tries to discourage the boy saying, “The son of a Thatcher? A knight? You might as well try to change the stars.” William asks his father again, “can a man changes his stars?” His father replies, “a man can do anything.” There is an emotional connection with his dad that is uplifting.

Shannyn Sossamon in A Knight’s Tale“A Knight’s Tale” is a quirky blend of a “football” movie, a love story, and a man in pursuit of his dream. After some training William and his pals are off to compete. Along the way, about the time they are trying to come up with an identity for William, they run into a wacky scribe named Chaucer (Paul Bettany) who just happens to have experience and knowledge of certification, or whatever it’s called. Chaucer can make William an official pass that will get him into contests, and also help him appear to be legally Ulrich von Lichtenstein, knight and nobleman. William turns out to be pretty good at fighting and wins many matches. With some skillful help from Kate the blacksmith (Laura Fraser), William becomes able to compete. During this time he meets the beautiful princess Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon). He immediately falls in love and longs to win the heart of an exceedingly fair maiden.

About the same time the antagonist enters the story, Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). Who is also attracted to Jocelyn, and is a competitor whom William must face. Audiences will get to look at knights, honor, reverence, and all that comes with it. Teen and Boomer movie fans will love the unique way rock music is woven into this medieval story. It is a definite revision of this period of history. I really liked this story of impossible glory that was “part romance, part road trip and part swashbuckler”. My only objections to the film were two scenes of a man’s backside fully nude and implied premarital sex. The nudity is intended to depict shame, but some may still find it offensive. I also believe that our lives are better directed by Sovereign means than “the changing of the stars.” I would recommend this film with those cautions. It has all the charm of “The Princess Bride”.


Viewer Comments
After reading other viewer’s comments on this movie, my husband and I assumed that it would be fairly clean and looked forward to some quality weekend entertainment. We were dismayed by what we actually saw. Granted, the characters do attempt to portray a sense of nobility and decency, but their attempts are unsatisfactory at best. The lead character is noble enough to rescue his friend from a beating, but not noble enough to keep himself sexually pure for marriage. His friend is noble enough to value friendship and be loyal to him, but not decent enough to keep his clothes on, avoid his obsession with gambling, or maintain sobriety. The fair lady, is truly fair, but not fair enough to be modest, her sense of “fashion” instead choosing to leave no view of her chest unrevealed. Although it has been said that this movie contains little other than than brief nudity and subtle sexual innuendos, I can assure you that there was nothing brief or subtle about either. You are left in no doubt about the characters’ purity, and are subjected to numerous detailed views of character “Chaucer’s” nude body. We give this movie a rating of Highly Unfavorable, and would like to encourage others to avoid being entertained by things God finds offensive.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Kelli Standish, age 24
My 13 year old son and I enjoyed this movie. He especially liked the music. I think the movie is good for teens if accompanied by a parent who can explain objectionable material. (There is only a minor amount.) The storyline was inspiring in that a peasant became a knight through his own efforts and the help of a compassionate royal. The virtues of duty, honor, and friendship were treated well. The romantic interlude was tasteful with more implied than seen. I wish there were more movies like this where you feel uplifted. I was ready to take on anything when the movie was over. Often as Christians I think we can overanalyze Hollywood entertainment. None of the characters in this movie or any other movie I have seen lately are perfect in morality but neither are we. That is just part of life, for the regenerate and unregenerate.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Mark L. Gilliam, age 39
…an extremely pleasurable movie to watch. Besides a few minor swears and a few scenes of a naked man’s behind there was nothing objectional. This was a funny, exciting movie that kept me on my seat until the end. I disagree that this was a waste of time. It is so hard to find clean PG-13 movies these days that when I do find one I want to recommend it highly. I enjoyed the modern music mixed in with the olden day plot. I think it gives it a certain edge that is not often seen. I didn’t agree with the fact that Heath Ledgers character only loved the princess because she was beautiful but that wasn’t too much of an issue. I recommend this movie to pre-teens—adults not only because it was enjoyable but because it was basically a clean movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jessica, age 14
I was very impressed at the morality of this movie—I heard only one objectionable cuss word the entire time. The music contrast is interesting, fun, and a good break from all the drabness of everday life in those times. The girl pulled through—she wasn’t as shallow as I had thought! And the Geoffrey Chaucer character was great…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—godzdancerchica, age 15
Looking for one of the most entertaining movies of the summer and possibly the last couple of years? Go see A Knights Tale! It was so great. I found it to be very clean in content. There was one reference to premarital sex that was done incredibly tastefully (remember folks they are telling a story and sometimes bad things happen in stories, it’s how you tell the story that makes it defiling or not), and the cussing was kept to a bare minimum and mostly masked in old english slang and pronunciations. Then there is the bare bottom, it was comical at its worst and deserves no less than a small chuckle, it was shown with no reference to sexual behavior or disrespect, it was a vital part of the character at that time. The story was well written and well played. Prepare to be entertained from start to finish with original one-liners and medieval action. Don’t complain that it is too shallow or the costumes don’t fit the time period (Note the almost oriental gown the princess starts out in. I loved it.), it’s not supposed too. The costuming and sound track are all part of the overall satirical feel of the film. 1 Part Princess Bride 2 Parts Canterbury Tales 1 Part Monty Python Bake until well done, and it is!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Robbie, age 20
This movie was not at all what I expected. The story was nearly non-existent. the music selections that were chosen were to say the least horrible…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Aylaah, age 28
I also must disagree with the general reviews of this movie and say that I was not at all taken with it. I can’t say I was disappointed because I really wasn’t expecting anything, but I discovered it was one bad line after the other, strung together to accomplish a film. It didn’t work. It is a clean movie with only a couple references to offensive behavior, so in that respect it is a “good” movie. But why does a “good” movie now a days have to lack depth and insight and clever thought? Just because it is “just a movie” or “simple entertainment” doesn’t mean it has to be shallow or stereotypical or lacking substance… I felt like I was reading a formula novel. I don’t know, it just didn’t fly with me. I thought it was a BIG WASTE OF TIME!
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—Lori, age 27
Avoid at all costs. Yes, the movie is mildly entertaining, but it flies in the face of my Lord God. I have always been pretty liberal when it comes to movie watching but I do not put up with movies the mock God. Skip it, your not missing much.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Jordan, age 20
I went to see “A Knights Tale” thinking it would be one of the better movies that I have seen recently. Although I personally didn’t find anything to be very offensive I thought the plot was lacking. The modern music didn’t quite fit and the main character (Heath Ledger) admitted that her would not love the princess if she was ugly. On the brighter side Heath Ledger’s acting was pretty good. All I have to say is don’t go in expecting a fantastic movie.
My Ratings: [Good / 3½]
—a teenager, age 15
This was a pretty good movie, I enjoyed it. Overall, it wasn’t that well made, but it was funny and entertaining. There was one guy who got stripped of his clothes a couple of times, but there wasn’t any frontal nudity. There were a few coarse jokes, a couple of uses of God’s name in vain, and a few swear words. I liked the use of modern music, but if you want to see a historically accurate movie, then you’ll be disappointed.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Lacey, age 13
This movie is one of the best. With no sex scenes, and a few cuss words, I recommend it to teenagers (not because there were bad parts, but because I don’t think that anyone younger than a pre-teen would enjoy it) and to adults. My dad and I were laughing through the entire thing. There were some romantic parts, some fighting parts (NO BLOOD) and some comical parts. The relationship didn’t go farther than kissing. There was no bad humor, except one line, that mature people can handle, and there was no blood whatsoever. There was a part in which I was amazed, because Hollywood tends to make things gory, exaggerating it to make it worse than it really is, this movie tried very hard, you could see, to make no blood visible. There was one part where a naked man is on the scene, but all you see is his bottom, which, yes disturbing, but is a lot better than some movies. And you could tell they weren’t trying to seduce you with it. I would definitely see this movie again.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Blake Wolf, age 13
I loved this movie! I went to see it with some of my friends and we all thought that is was a pretty good movie. Yes, there are a few questionable scenes but for the most part it was clean. The only thing I didn’t like was that I thought that the plot could have been a little stronger.
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—a teenage fan, age 15
I loved the movie! You laugh, you cry, and you end up rooting for the hero! It was very entertaining to watch and makes you want to see it again and again!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Lindsey, age 14
This was an entertaining, enjoyable movie with a minimum of offensiveness. In addition to the scenes mentioned above, I took offense at a couple scenes taking place in churches that were sort of sacrilegious. There also was one scene where William says he’d rather go to hell than give up the princess. On the other hand, there were a few spots were they seem to talk positively about God or the Bible. It was kind of like they felt they had to include some religious aspects since people were generally more religious then, but they didn’t really know what to do with it. As far as the mixing of modern elements into a historical story, I liked some parts better than others. I liked the 70’s rock, disco dancing and the princesses’ oddly modern sense of style. I was a little annoyed at her “liberated” attitudes. It was like Gloria Steinem in medieval times! Overall, I liked the movie and would recommend it for adults, and maybe for teens (depending how permissive one is).
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jonathan Stephenson, age 30
I enjoyed going to this movie. There are some sweet moments and times you will laugh. The only objection is the showing of too much skin. I think this movie has a good story line and a fantastic ending.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Erin Siedschlag, age 14
…an excellent movie. There is usually not a lot of good movies worth seeing out there these days but I went and saw this with my friend and I was very impressed. It had a great story line, awesome actors and a really cute story overall. I would recommend this movie to anyone. There is one implied sex scene but you don’t see anything. I don’t even remember any swearing except one B word. If you are looking for a good movie, check it out… you won’t be disappointed!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Andrea, age 16
I am not trying to cause waves with the general review of this movie; however, after watching “A Knight’s Tale,” I walked out of the theater feeling a little cheated of my time. This movie really should have been better than it was, there was just something missing in its style. The movie began with slapstick comedy, then romance, and ended with high drama. I really didn’t know what the movie was trying to get across to the viewer. On a moral perspective, I was greatly offended by the constant humor (which was not at all funny) that took place in a church. The actors took the Lord’s name in vain several times, in the most careless ways possible. In addition to this, several jokes were made against the Catholic church and Catholic traditions. It seems to me that this type of humor is becoming more and more popular, especially in PG-13 rated movies. I just don’t understand this new fad of slandering our Creator, and I sincerely hope that I never will.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Christy Mellecker, age 20
I saw A Knight’s Tale in a sneak preview because the trailers looked like it might be fun. It was. I thought the integration of comtemporary music with a period piece worked in this case even though it was a little offbeat. This movie has some heart and it is entertaining on several levels. There is something here for teens as well as adults and could be considered a good “date movie”. As a Christian, I agree with the reviewer’s comments about the couple of slightly offensive scenes but overall this is a very “clean” movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—D. Kristiansen, age 50
I got free passes to see a sneak preview, and I really wasn’t into going and seeing it, but one of my girlfriend’s got me to go, and am I glad I did! It is so funny! I came into it expecting a corny love story, but it is one of the funniest movies I have seen since… Well, it has been a while since I have seen a movie that has so delightfully entertained me! I want to go and see it again! I don’t remember a whole lot of cussing, there is one scene were you can presume that there was premarital sex, but they don’t show anything. I was so happy to see that there was not nudity (displayed in a sexual way.) I wasn’t offended by this movie at all, at least not that I can remember, so it must have not been that bad.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—A great movie fan, age 21