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
Heath Ledger knocked out one of director Brian Helgeland's front teeth with a broomstick when the two were demonstrating a jousting move. It was several months before Helgeland's mouth had healed enough to repair the damage. He says it was the only jousting injury during filming. See more »
In the final joust, the horse is wearing his old leather breast plate in a close-up, and in the next shot he's wearing the new metal one. 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 »
Could've been an absolute bomb, but somehow magically works perfectly!
this film is ridiculously unbelievable, thin on plot, shamefully predictable, historically inaccurate in so many ways...yet it all works! The combination of modern music to medieval setting should be awful, but no, it works! The costumes are totally wrong for the period (on purpose I'd hazard to guess - at one point Angelina Jolie lookalike Shannyn Sossamon is wearing a hat & dress outfit that looks startlingly similar to a costume Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman...) but it works! Heath Ledger is an Aussie (what happened to the black hair he had in 10 Things I Hate About You! I didn't recognize him!) and Alan Tudyk is a Texan, so their accents should have tanked! But they didn't, just a few slippages a la Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Jonny Lee Miller in Hackers...
This film is funny, fast-paced (certainly didn't *feel* over 2h...), well constructed, hilariously tongue-in-cheek (From the We Will Rock You opening scene to the Nike swooshes on the armor I couldn't stop laughing!) It certainly has its problems (including some *horribly* cheezy lines - most on purpose but that doesn't make them any less horrible! and an evil Hollywood ending - including a Bravheart-like scream of defiance in the final joust that made me cringe...) but those problems are overcome by sharp wit and consistent amusement. The actors were obviously enjoying themselves, and the action was beautifully blended in with the rest of the film. None of the jousting scenes were too long (like, say, the race in Phantom Menace...) and all were shot in such a way as to make them really exciting!
And I have to laud Paul Bettany who was an incredible and incredibly amusing Geoffrey Chaucer...even though he looks eerily similar, IMO, to Thom Yorke...)
Kudos to anyone who recognizes Laura Fraser (the blacksmith) from Man in the Iron Mask...
Overall: A great watch. I went in expecting little and came out extremely satisfied. Not the best film of its kind, but a head above most. And the blending of contemporary style and music and characterization with the medieval story/setting is really well done. It really shouldn't but it does work! 7/10.
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