Columbia Pictures Corporation, Escape Artists, Finestkind
Written and Directed by Brian Helgeland
Story: We are in medieval times, and the squires of a certain knight, Sir Hector, have discovered he is dead, just moments before his final match in the joust. If the knight wins, he would receive a prize of gold and his squires would be able to eat, which they have not done in three days! So William Thatcher, one of the squires, decides to don his armor and compete in his place, a dangerous decision. If he is discovered, the powers that be would have him hanged, for only persons of royal birth can compete in the joust. They manage to pull off the deception and win the match, but William is determined to continue and keep jousting. On their way to Rouen, they run into Geoffrey Chaucer, who has a bit of a gambling problem, but is a skilled writer and offers to forge patents of nobility for William in exchange for food, clothing, and a chance to travel about. William is successful and gains great renown, but he makes an enemy of Count Adhemar. a knight who finds him very annoying and sets out to destroy him in any way he can. William, of course, falls in love with a beautiful, wealthy girl who admires his skills and honesty. Soon they gain the company of a skilled woman armorer and blacksmith, and our merry band is on the way to the world championships in London.
Review: Probably one of the most original movies ever made, this tale compares modern sports to the realm of jousting in medieval times, and pulls it off magnificently. Heath Ledger is perfect in the role of William Thatcher, a young man hired out to a knight as a squire to “change his stars”. The story has everything, including romance, comedy, and drama. Rufus Sewell as Count Adhemar is the perfect dissociated royalty who cares little for the common folk. He loves the adoration of the crowd and their subservience, and considers them beneath him. Mark Addy, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, and Laura Fraser complete his band of Merry Men and do so with a flair seldom seen in actors who are at the beginning of their careers, but perhaps that is the magic Helgeland was able to conjure here. Personally, I would have reversed the roles of Jocelyn and Christiana, since I think Bérénice Bejo is much hotter than Shannyn Sassamon, but I grant you that is a matter of taste. James Purefoy as Edward the Black Prince plays the role to the hilt, and adds the icing on the cake to this already perfectly baked confection. Toss in perfect photography, excellent costuming, and a soundtrack that evokes all the action of modern day sports, and you have a perfect movie. Rated PG-13 for language, violence, and a brief sexual innuendo, I personally don't see a problem with most preteens watching this. Definitely a collectible film, both for the fans of Heath and the rest of us who just like a good movie.