History is often a cold and bland subject, filled with mundane descriptions of ancient codes and long dead scholars. But get History liquored up and teach it electric guitar… and you’ve got one hell of a good time. Welcome to the drunken reverie of A Knight’s Tale.
A Knight’s Tale stars Heath Ledger as a poor serf who bluffs his way into knighthood and ultimately into becoming a jousting tournament champion in a quest for love, recognition, and glory. At his back is a predictably diverse and hearty pit crew, always at the ready to lend their friend a hand.
However, unlike any medieval tale you may have seen before, A Knight’s Tale throws accuracy out the window, in favor of hard pounding rock music, disco dance numbers, and almost sickeningly dashing looking garb. But, despite A Knight’s Tale’s somewhat distorted take on history, it is at its route no different than any other Knight errant story we’ve seen before. The black knight is there, complete with bad temper and womanizing sensibilities, as is fair maiden, though modernized with an attitude befitting the powerful and perplexing women of our century.
But the focus of A Knight’s Tale is jousting, plain and simple. And it is at the tournaments themselves that the tale achieves the most success. Despite the somewhat surreal atmosphere of a medieval crowd chanting Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, the energy and electricity of tournament fighting rips across the screen and powers the film into overdrive, dragging you, its hapless audience right along with it.
Yet, outside the tournament ring, A Knight’s Tale falls right off its horse. Our hero is too scripted, our lady fair to bitchy, and our villainous villain too much like every black knight that has ever come before him. Outside the grit and guts of rock and roll tournaments, A Knight’s Tale is nothing more than a poorly thrown together children’s story in which someone has forgotten to include a fairy godmother.
Except for the occasional naked poet, A Knight’s Tale fails to achieve anything more than a few moments of oddball mediocrity, that only dulls our senses while we await the beginning of the next tournament which will probably end as predictably as the film itself
If A Knight’s Tale were a maiden fair, it would long ago have been served to the fiery appetites of an unscrupulous dragon.