Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2001. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Escape Artists, Finestkind, Black and Blu Entertainment. Screenplay by Brian Helgeland. Cinematography by Richard Greatrex. Produced by Todd Black, Brian Helgeland, Tim Van Rellim. Music by Carter Burwell. Production Design by Tony Burrough. Costume Design by Caroline Harris. Film Editing by Kevin Stitt.
Heath Ledger plays William, a Knight’s servant who decides upon his master’s death to take up the lance and place in a jousting tournament. The success of his first attempt gives him the confidence to keep on competing under an assumed name, exasperating his two humourous friends (Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk) who are terrified because any revelation of William’s humble origins will get them all executed. Soon William finds himself a top knight, competing with the evil villain in black (Rufus Sewell) and trying to win the heart of the lovely Lady Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon, a club DJ making a fine acting debut). The film’s best asset is its cheeky use of anachronisms: crowds that sing the music of Queen, mediaeval dances that blend into David Bowie, Nike symbols on the armour. The very lively performances give it much more life than it necessarily deserves for a story so routine. Laura Fraser is exceptional as a trailblazing blacksmith, and Paul Bettany steals the show as the very humourous Geoffrey Chaucer, upon whose stories the plot is very loosely based.