Like all Australian women have done since 2008, I was taking twenty minutes out of my day this morning to sit down and think about Heath Ledger. I thought about 1999 when we all fell deeply in love with him in 10 Things I Hate About You, and the only natural progression from this is into deep contemplation of A Knight’s Tale – a movie I have seen approximately 14 million times since it was released, in 2001. It’s just about the only thing I still have in common with my eight year-old self: I love A Knight’s Tale.
First things first, this is a really weird film. It is so deeply weird for a teenage girl fantasy film that in retrospect, I’m really surprised it achieved mainstream success. A Knight’s Tale sat alongside a tide of outrageously postmodern films at the beginning of the 2000s and, for all intents and purposes, is just teen romance at a renaissance fair. To entrench the crazy, the movie begins with a rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You performed by peasants bashing out a rhythm on the stands of a jousting stadium. The movie then proceeds to give so many nods to the audience that I’m surprised the director’s head didn’t simply wobble off.
Let’s not forget the fact that this film is also chock-full of mad babes. Heath Ledger had his foot firmly in the door of Hollywood at 22; he was appallingly handsome and just on the verge of cementing himself as a serious actor. The leading lady is the ridiculously beautiful Shannyn Sossamon (Wristcutters: A Love Story, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Warpaint for a short period of time) who is so good-looking she’s kind of painful to watch (unless, of course you're Shannon Sossamon). Then you’ve got Rufus Sewell (Tristan and Isolde), James Purefoy (Rome, Vanity Fair), Paul Bettany (Dogville, A Beautiful Mind), Berenice Bejo (The Artist), and Alan Tudyk (28 Days, Firefly). A Knight's Tale basically contains an onslaught of actors who are more than adequately equipped to rile up the hearts and loins of every teenage girl everywhere, ever.
The fashion is also stunning – the integration of millennial pop punk with Renaissance costuming works surprisingly well, and that's a sentence I've never constructed before and will never construct again. Jocelyn’s (Sossamon) costumes in particular are so bizarrely appealing that I wished for a very long time that I too were a lofty badass princess. Okay, I lie, I still do wish that.
A Knight’s Tale is all about the implausible. From the implausibility of the peasant Will’s (Ledger) ascendance to knighthood, to a romance with Jocelyn, to the bizarre insertion of modern speech and music, to the impossibly hot cast, A Knight’s Tale is the perfect escape. It's a movie designed to flout reality from the ground up and engage its audience with classical romance reupholstered for the average millennial. It is truly worth a revisit, if only to watch a young Health Ledger smiling on a horse – I mean, what else can you demand from cinema?
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