Inspired by "The Canterbury Tales," as well as the story of Ulrich von Lichtenstein, 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
In the movie, Chaucer uses the phrase "gilding the lily". The real Chaucer died in the year 1400. However, the first documented reference of the phrase is from the USA in 1895. It probably derives from a Shakespeare's play "King John" written in the mid 1590s and first published in 1623 in the First Folio where Shakespear writes "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily". See more »
Jocelyn sits down twice during the final joust. See more »
As the first credits appear, the camera swings to show a constellation behind William and Jocelyn. The constellation is Orion, the Hunter. Jocelyn refers to William as the Hunter before she learns his name. See more »
Absolutely unexpected pleasure. Light-hearted but satisfying on many levels
This wonderfully uplifting little film has a great big heart, good humor, and a classic message about love and honor, and the rarity and preciousness of those who practice both with style. I went to see this with my spouse and a good friend of ours because THEY (the spouse and the friend) wanted to see it. I am a non-fan of comedies, and had been annoyed by the stream of trashy Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court films that had been coming out since the 1980s. My spouse had also informed me that I would be seeing Jousting performed to Bachman Turner Overdrive. My reaction was to reach for the nearest bottle of hard liquor. I didn't need it.
I've now seen this film about six times, and though I can't say that I see something new in it every time (it's just not that complicated), I can say that I have enjoyed it each and every time. The characters, though relatively uncomplicated, are very lovable and the casting is quite excellent all around. Before Brokeback Mountain, William Thatcher was Heath Ledger's most memorable role. He's a poor boy from London's Cheapside who wants to change his stars and to become an honored knight. Travelling from tournament to tournament with his fellow indentured servants, his liege passes on, and William seizes the moment
taking his armor and his horse to become Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein
of the Gelderland.
He is joined by the other now-free indentures, and eventually, by Chaucer and a female Farrier played by the wonderful Laura Fraser. Eventually, William falls in love with a princess and is challenged by a rival for her affections with a lot more experience, money and political clout. The love story, which could have easily become a distracting annoyance, in fact, comes to dominate and drive the story very nicely.
Special kudos to Ledger, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany and James Purefoy for their awesome performances. And extra special kudos to Director Brian Helgeland for pulling off an impossible task - taking a fairy tale, making us want to believe it, and yet retaining some wonderful elements of silliness often missing in the fairy tale genre. This would make a wonderful romantic living-room double feature with The Princess Bride.
Recommendation: Definitely worth seeing.
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