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Movie Review

A Knight's Tale

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Directed by Brian Helgeland, starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany and Shannyn Sossamon.

'A Knight's Tale' is a sports movie that treads the well-worn path of 'Rocky', 'Escape To Victory' and the like; the big difference is that the sport in question here is the long forgotten art of jousting.

Boasting a cast of British actors alongside the Australian Heath Ledger, the film tells the tale of poor boy made good William Thatcher, played by 'next big thing' Ledger. He clashes with bad knight Count Adhemar, a role brought to life with relish by Rufus Sewell. Ledger falls for Adhemar's love Lady Jocelyn and I won't spoil the rest, but you can probably guess what happens.

This stirring story of good knights, bad knights and damsels in distress hits its marks well and boasts a strangely appealing disregard for historical accuracy and authenticity. There are some clever in-jokes; Geoffrey Chaucer is portrayed as a chronic gambler, shouting pre-joust monologues for our hero Thatcher.

This is possibly the most pop-corny of all the summer releases. There are no intellectual pretensions within this movie, as all involved go to great lengths to produce a simpleton's guide to medieval England. Jousting is transformed into the precursor of professional wrestling, accompanied by thumping rock music and football style chants.

The film follows in the footsteps of recent adaptations of literature, this time it’s 'The Canterbury Tales', which will make English Literature teachers up and down the country cry over their dog-eared copies of the original text. Perhaps not as clever as it thinks it is; but the film is still an enjoyable romp. There's enough there to keep you entertained, although the film could have done with being half an hour shorter. This is medieval England for remedial Americans, but it's done with tongue so far embedded in cheek that you just about forgive them.

John Raftery

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