"Gladiator Lite" or "Heralding Heath"
A Knight's Tale
Review by Ross Anthony

Fade from black to wooden poles breaking against armor; cut to wide shot, an eager medieval audience, on their feet, pound out the rhythm to Queen's "We Will Rock You." Thump, thump, clap, thump, thump, clap. Peasants and noblemen put their hands to hewn logs giving these lance-wielding horsemen a rock and roll backbone. The horses charge and the jousts rise one more time -- taking the life of William's master.

Realizing that the spark of life that was their lordship is now "covered in shite," William (Heath Ledger, the Australian so aptly cast as Mel Gibson's son in "The Patriot") decides to "seize the day," armor, joust, horse, servants as well as the name of this deceased jouster.

"But you're not a nobleman!" his fellow serfs protest. "How did the nobles become noble? They took it at the end of a sword!" Heath rebuts!

On their way to the next competition, this ragtag team runs across a naked writer who takes great poetic license regarding fact.

"You lie!" our protagonists accuse.

"I merely give the truth scope!" the charming writer exuberantly exclaims winning their hearts as he will no doubt yours. Paul Bettany superbly brings this superb dialogue to life. Heralding Heath with verbosity rivaling that used in a wrestling match, "Here he is ... the protector of Italian virginity ... we walk in the garden of his turbulence, etc."

Not without its flaws: A side-tracking cathedral scene just doesn't work, Heath's sudden anger feels inconsistent with his happy-go-lucky spirit, and the predictable beat before climax should have gone one step farther into swell.

Still, this script, these actors, and direction are brimming with zeal. The balsy choice to score a medieval period piece with 1970's classic rock pays off ("The Boys are Back in Town," "Taking Care of Business" to name just two titles). In fact, I think the production could have used more! Charges out of the gates with spirit and daring, loses a bit of its thrust as joust is by nature repetitive; but never loses its mighty sense of humor. Very nice, good fun.

PS: If you stay to the end of the credits, the cast farts for you.

  • A Knight's Tale. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shanynn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk.
  • Written and Directed by Brian Helgeland.
  • Produced by Tim Van Rellim, Todd Black at Columbia/Escape Artists/Finestkind.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:06:26 PDT