A poet falls in love with an art student who gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle -- and his love of heroin. Hooked as much on one another as they are on the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair.
Inspired by "The Canterbury Tales," as well as the early life of William Marshall (later First Earl of Pembroke), this is the story of William, a young squire with a gift for jousting. After his master dies suddenly, the squire hits the road with his cohorts Roland and Wat. On the journey, they stumble across an unknown writer, Chaucer. William, lacking a proper pedigree, convinces Chaucer to forge genealogy documents that will pass him off as a knight. With his newly-minted history in hand, the young man sets out to prove himself a worthy knight at the country's jousting competition, and finds romance along the way.Written by
The film is intentionally anachronistic and not meant to be historically accurate, but although the real-life Edward is often referred to as the "Black Prince", there is no record of this name being used during his lifetime, nor for more than 150 years after his death. He was instead known as Edward of Woodstock (after his place of birth), or by one of his titles. See more »
Chaucer has cloth stuffed up his left nostril to stop a nosebleed, which switches to the right side in one shot, and then back to the left again. Looking closely, it appears that the film has been reversed to keep the direction of movement constant as Chaucer backs away from Will - leaving it would have created a more jarring error. See more »
As the first credits appear, the camera swings to show a constellation behind William and Jocelyn. The constellation is Orion, the Hunter. Jocelyn refers to William as the Hunter before she learns his name. See more »
The DVD includes six extended/deleted scenes:
A scene of Will, Roland and Wat around a campfire during the training, where Will comes up with the idea for sir Ulrich's crest: a phoenix. Wat and Roland say there should be three phoenixes, since there's three of them.
Lord Adhemar's original introduction scene, where he slaps around one of his servants while having his armor fitted, and reference is made to the "triple phoenix" design of Sir Ulrich's crest.
Chaucer giving another substantial introduction for Sir Ulrich, similar to the first one, right before his match with Lord Adhemar. He berates Adhemar's herald before the speech; after the speech, Adhemar's herald appears impressed, which leads to his imitation of Chaucer's style later in the film.
When Adhemar leaves the dance, we find out the reason for his pained expression; in a deleted scene, he reveals to a monk that he is tone-deaf, and has never been able to hear music as anything more than noise. Adhemar then strides out into the midst of the poor, waiting outside the castle for handouts, and starts a riot by throwing food and money into the crowd.
Another deleted scene has Will, Roland, Wat, and Kate seeing Chaucer walking back to their quarters naked again. They follow him, but it turns that he was fetching food for his wife, Phillipa (who is also naked), and had not lost his clothes gambling like they thought. They leave, laughing, and run into Jocelyn and Christiana. Christiana and Roland leave together (with a suggestion of romance), William and Jocelyn leave together, but when Wat holds out his hand for Kate, she just hands him a pastry and walks off. Wat says "Hey, Beautiful" to the pastry and walks off happy anyway.
The original version of the scene with William in the stocks is considerably longer, and has an extensive speech by Chaucer (which is probably his best in the film). Rather than having the crowd calmed by the appearance of Prince Edward, the crowd is converted by Chaucer's speech, and has already begun chanting "William, William!" by the time the Prince reveals himself. A much stronger version of the scene, but cut down in favor of having the Prince's role expanded.
Absolutely unexpected pleasure. Light-hearted but satisfying on many levels
This wonderfully uplifting little film has a great big heart, good humor, and a classic message about love and honor, and the rarity and preciousness of those who practice both with style. I went to see this with my spouse and a good friend of ours because THEY (the spouse and the friend) wanted to see it. I am a non-fan of comedies, and had been annoyed by the stream of trashy Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court films that had been coming out since the 1980s. My spouse had also informed me that I would be seeing Jousting performed to Bachman Turner Overdrive. My reaction was to reach for the nearest bottle of hard liquor. I didn't need it.
I've now seen this film about six times, and though I can't say that I see something new in it every time (it's just not that complicated), I can say that I have enjoyed it each and every time. The characters, though relatively uncomplicated, are very lovable and the casting is quite excellent all around. Before Brokeback Mountain, William Thatcher was Heath Ledger's most memorable role. He's a poor boy from London's Cheapside who wants to change his stars and to become an honored knight. Travelling from tournament to tournament with his fellow indentured servants, his liege passes on, and William seizes the moment - taking his armor and his horse to become Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein of the Gelderland.
He is joined by the other now-free indentures, and eventually, by Chaucer and a female Farrier played by the wonderful Laura Fraser. Eventually, William falls in love with a princess and is challenged by a rival for her affections with a lot more experience, money and political clout. The love story, which could have easily become a distracting annoyance, in fact, comes to dominate and drive the story very nicely.
Special kudos to Ledger, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany and James Purefoy for their awesome performances. And extra special kudos to Director Brian Helgeland for pulling off an impossible task - taking a fairy tale, making us want to believe it, and yet retaining some wonderful elements of silliness often missing in the fairy tale genre. This would make a wonderful romantic living-room double feature with The Princess Bride.
Recommendation: Definitely worth seeing.
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