‘A Knights Tale: Extended Cut’ adds goodness to a good movie

Heath Ledger stars in 'A Knight’s Tale'
Heath Ledger stars in ‘A Knight’s Tale’

The first time I saw the commercials for A Knight’s Tale back when it was first released in 2001, I thought it was pretty silly. The idea of rock and roll music mixed into a medieval period piece was ridiculous. It seemed like some stupid gimmick to appeal to the chronic MTV watchers who would normally avoid anything that didn’t take place in modern times and feature fart jokes or lots of guns.

But I have seen it a few times since then on cable, and now with this “extended cut” DVD, I have to admit it really is a funny film, made all the more interesting by its use of rock and roll. This unique mixture of modern music and old world jousting is well done, with some terrifically light-hearted performances from both the stars and supporting players.

A Knight’s Tale is about a young squire, William (Heath Ledger), who assumes a fake identity in order to enter into a series of knight competitions. Assisted by his two friends, Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), as well as a writer named Chaucer (Paul Bettany), he wins one joust after another. During these competitions he meets the beautiful Lady Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), as well as the viciously evil Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell).

But how long can young William protect his secret before it is discovered that he is not of noble blood, a crime that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.

Ultimately A Knight’s Tale is a medieval comedy, because there are far more laughs in this film than anything else. In that way, everyone does a terrific job. Bettany delivers his speeches with robust enthusiasm, and Ledger is charming as the dreamer chasing his dream. Addy is one of my favorite character actors, and he’s excellent here. Tudyk is also hilarious, providing some of the best laughs in the film. Bruce Helgeland wrote, directed and produced this feature, and does an outstanding job.

The jousting sequences are pretty good, some of the best seen on screen, I think. Although there are some moments that come off as being a little staged — Ledger’s opponents often have their jousts pointed down and away and not at him. But that’s a minor issue, one that is easily overshadowed by several great moments. One of my favorite scenes is when Ledger and Sossamon are at a banquet and there is an elaborate dance number to David Bowie’s excellent “Golden Years”.

This extended cut DVD has a few added moments, the most notable being a scene featuring Chaucer’s wife (Olivia Williams), who was edited out of the original release.

Special features here are pretty limited, as they include the 11 featurettes, as well as a music video and an HBO making of special, all of which were on the previously issued DVD. Sadly, they did not include an audio commentary, which I think would have been a great addition (but, I always think that, because I’m a big fan of audio commentaries).

Leave a Reply