A Knight's Tale, the period action comedy starring the late Heath Ledger, on dvr. I had already seen this movie a million times before I got married, but found out recently that my wife hates it for all the same reasons I love it.
A Knight's Tale tells the story of William Thatcher, who dreams the impossible dream of transcending his humble peasant origins to become a Knight. Of course, in feudal England, one would have to be born into nobility to even consider becoming a knight... "You might as well try to change the stars," laughs a doomed eavesdropper at young William's impossible aspirations. Will's father, however is unable to say no to his son's ambitions, and encourages him to hold onto hope.
Through his father's machinations, Will leaves his home in London to become a squire for a country knight, whose unsanctimonious death over a decade later gives Will the opportunity he'd been waiting for.
Similar to a Disney cartoon, the period trappings in A Knight's Tale are largely there for dress-up purposes. The story does its best to distance itself from the realities of the time, using music and situational details to make it feel more contemporary... The movie treats jousting, sword-fighting and the hero-worship of the knights as similar to modern sports as possible, complete with heralds that seem like they're announcing a boxing match more than the entry of nobles into mock combat.
the villain of the film Count Adhemar is a raping, pillaging, cheating, condescending prick... reinforcing the idea that the values of the time are unjust, and that the "new world" where a boy can "change his stars" fully deserves to supplant the patriarchal world Adhemar calls home.
My wife's objections to A Knight's Tale reminded me of the initial rejection of Samurai Champloo I heard from anime purists who couldn't get with a samurai story that stopped for beat-boxing interludes or had backpacker-styled rhyming on the theme music. In both cases, the strength of the storytelling comes largely from bending and breaking the conventions of the genre. If that can't be tolerated, it's hard to have a fair opinion of the picture.
The movie helps its critics out by having an ending that breaks from anything that could be interpreted as reality, but I have no problem at all looking the other way on it. In fact, I'd say the ending provides a great opportunity to whoever is smart enough to make this movie into a graphic novel. If I made a comic out of this story, I would take the opportunity to expand a little on the roles of some of the characters, as well as shaving a little of the propaganda value off the the movie's final battle.The film's genre-bending puts too much pressure on an audience already to sustain such an over-the-top ending, and I felt like the story had not written itself into a corner that would require such a departure from reality to resolve itself. In a graphic novel remake, I'd advise making the ending more in balance with the whole of the story.
Aqua Knight or Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal would be perfect for this material. Since music is not much of a factor in a comics adaptation, storytellers could use more visual cues in costuming and dialog to establish the modern-minded feel of the book, but I for one would love to read it!
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