Movie Review: A Knight's Tale (2001)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2001 medieval sports movie starring Heath Ledger.

Synopsis: A peasant squire, facing starvation and seeking fame and glory and to win the heart of a noblewoman, decides to wear his deceased master’s armor, pretend to be a knight and travel to jousting tournaments. In addition to putting his life in danger by participating in the sport, he also faces severe consequences if someone were to find out he isn’t really a knight.

Who's in it?

A Unique Sports Movie

I’ve seen quite a few Heath Ledger movies and most of them are pretty decent. This one, however, remains my favorite.

The thing I like about this movie is it manages to turn a medieval knight movie into a modern-day sports story (which, ironically, I’m not usually a fan of). It’s somewhat unique, has a story that is easy to follow and the various knights can easily be compared to modern sports athletes. Yes, there are also stories about injustice and inequities between the classes. But, the sports concept is what really makes this movie memorable in my opinion.

The music in this movie is also something that always stands out for me. I love the way the writers use easily-to-recognize songs but puts a medieval twist on them. Those help break up some of the slower scenes and keep the movie upbeat when it could otherwise end up being much more serious than it needs to be.

The love story between Ledger’s character, William, and the noblewoman (Sossamon) is an interesting one. At first, I thought it was an unnecessary distraction. However, the thing I found I liked about this part of the movie is how she creates a contrast for him. Being successful as a knight meant being fearless and even arrogant. Yet, to win her heart, he had to taper that back and be humble too. And, in a way, by doing that, she helped him be better than the nobility he was trying to prove himself against.

My only real complaint about this movie would be about William’s main rival, Count Adhemar (Sewell). His character, as is often the case with sports movie, lacked any real depth. He was simply a bad guy who could joust and I really think the movie could have taken him to a whole new level if the writers would have taken the time to give him a better back story or, at very least, made him a little more human by showing some sort of compassionate side to him. As a result of the lack of effort, he honestly wasn’t that much of an upgrade over any other knight he faced. It also made the ending somewhat predictable because, he was so evil, it was pretty obvious who was going to win.

Heath Ledger Multi-Feature A Knight's Tale, Lords of Dogtown, Patriot

A Knight's Tale: Heath Ledger is William Thatcher, a peasant with dreams of champion jousting. When the opportunity strikes for him to feign royal descent and compete in the fam...

View on Amazon

Final Opinion

Overall, I think this is a good movie and, as I said before, it’s my favorite Ledger film. However, mostly because the villain lacks depth, the movie also doesn’t quite reach its full potential.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 01/12/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/22/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system here has A Knight's Tale among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. So I intend to check this out imminently, along with First Knight, which you previously reviewed.

Internet sources mention that "Rufus Sewell regrets A Knight's Tale hangovers." Would that have had anything to do with his performance being somewhat disappointing?

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