A Knight's Tale

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A Knight's Tale is a 2001 American action-adventure/comedy film directed, produced, and written by Brian Helgeland. The film stars Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer, and James Purefoy as Sir Thomas Colville/Edward, the Black Prince. The film follows the story of William Thatcher, a peasant masquerading as a knight, along with his companions in the world of medieval jousting. William poses as a knight and competes in tournaments, winning accolades and acquiring friendships with such historical figures as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and Geoffrey Chaucer. The film takes its title from Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale" in his Canterbury Tales. The film was a box office success, garnering $117,487,473 with a budget of just over $41 million.

Contents

Plot

Set in late Medieval Europe in the 1370s, the story begins with the protagonists and squires, William (Heath Ledger), Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), discovering their master, Sir Ector (Nick Brimble), dead of bowel problems in the middle of a jousting tournament. He was ahead "three lances to none" and merely had to finish the final round to win the tournament and be awarded the money that was to buy food for them all. While Wat and Roland resign themselves to destitution now that they no longer have Sir Hector's employment and protection, William Thatcher takes the armour, and more importantly the helmet, from Sir Ector's body and poses as the noble to finish the match. William's inexperience is evident, as he receives a lance blow to the face mask, but regardless wins the tournament (and the money) due to Ector's previous lead. This gives William the idea that, with proper training, he and his companions could make a living in jousting. For a month, William trains with the help of Roland and Wat to improve his balance and aim. After many tries Will is able to joust properly and is therefore ready to compete.

Along the way to his first tournament in Rouen, William and his friends come upon Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany), "trudging" down a road with no clothes or money. William persuades the writer to fake his patents of nobility, as it is illegal for peasants to joust, and joins the jousting circuit under the assumed name of "Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein" from Gelderland. Chaucer is then discovered to have a gambling problem, which William saves him from by paying his debts with his tournament winnings, and therefore gains Geoffrey's true loyalty (and services as a herald at the tournaments). Helped by Chaucer, Wat and Roland, he begins to win match after match. When his armour—still the same suit taken from Sir Ector—becomes loose and damaged, he gains an addition to his fellowship, Kate the blacksmith (Laura Fraser), who makes him revolutionary new armour and decides to travel with them. He faces a Sir Thomas Colville (James Purefoy) in one of his matches and deals him a crippling blow, but rather than finish him off William instead agrees to a draw in order to preserve Colville's honor. William meets and falls in love with a noble lady, Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), who has already been noticed by the powerful Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), the film's antagonist. A rivalry begins between the two of them for the affection of Jocelyn and the accolades of the tournaments, and Adhemar defeats William in his first tournament.

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