Making the Grades
Many a boy has dreamed of becoming a knight for a day, as is the case with William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), the son of a poor, 14th Century, peasant man. Rising to the rank of squire, William travels to various tournaments with the knight whom he serves, but his humble birth prohibits any further advancement. When his master suddenly dies just moments before a jousting match, William dons the nobleman's armor as a disguise and takes up the lance in an attempt to save his income, and that of fellow squires, Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk).
Winning the tournament, William convinces his cohorts to help him train to become a top jouster. Still lacking the appropriate pedigree, he happens to meet writer Geoff Chaucer (Paul Bettany), who is desperate for help after literally gambling away the clothes off his back (he appears completely naked--seen from the side and rear). William offers food and clothing in exchange for Geoff employing his creative skills to provide a forged ticket into the noble class.
But what's a knight's tale with out the obligatory girl? In this case the maiden is Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), who happens to be the apple of Count Adhemar's eye. The reigning champion, Adhemar is determined to dethrone William from more than his horse, thus creating the most vicious of all the jousting scenes--although the director's restraint keeps this movie from becoming a blood bath of violence. While jousting scenes are plentiful, we're led to believe that the armor takes most of the blows.
The story of a young man bucking the class system is a sure bet for gaining empathy and support from all (not just middle) ages, and A Knight's Tale also provides good examples of facing your challenges, having the resolve to admit your mistakes, and the positive influence of a father on a son. Yet the unavoidable violence, handful of profanities, and a maiden in dis' (slightly see-through) dress, may leave some parents searching for a different knight on the town.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about A Knight’s Tale.
Societies with class systems restrict what you can become simply because you were born into the “wrong” family. Was William justified in falsifying his ancestry so he could achieve his dream?
What aspects of the Middle Ages does this movie choose to ignore? Why do we demand historical accuracy in some film, yet with others (perhaps this one) we are willing to accept the obvious errors and anachronisms?