A Knight’s Tale: A Fun Middle Ages Mash-Up


Here’s a movie I could watch over and over.  A Knight’s Tale (2001 PG-13) is a jousting medieval times movie staring Heath Ledger (The Patriot, 10 Things I Hate About You).  Director Brian Helgeland states, “We wanted to create a period piece that stayed fair to the period but felt contemporary.  I wanted to make the Middle Ages feel as alive as they were to the people who inhabited them.”  So how do you do this?  How do you have your characters act and dress?

For a film about a guy, William (Ledger), who pretends to be a nobleman named Ulrich after his master quietly dies in the middle of a joust, you make the contests seem like a modern sporting event, not some primitive barbaric battle.  The crowd pounds to Queen’s “We Will Rock You!”  (Really!)  Audience members paint their faces with the crests of their favorite knights.  “We Are The Champions” plays as the credits roll.  It seems strange at first, but you get used to it, and even enjoy the mix of pop culture with 14th century sport.

The men’s costumes are standard tunics and leggings, unnoticeable except for the noble men’s look of 1970’s glamour rock.  Costume Designer Caroline Harris says the men’s costumes were “inspired a great deal by the look of the Rolling Stones on their 1972 tour.”


William’s new set of jousting armor is another story.  Created by a woman forger, Kate (Laura Fraser) leaves her “mark of the trade” on the shoulder, which is two Nike swooshes!  And the vents for his face shield look strikingly similar to the band Van Halen’s logo!


Now for Jocelyn’s (Shannyn Sossamon) clothing.  The director teases you.  He shows William taking off on horseback for a joust, then cuts to her watching from the stands.  What was THAT on her head?  Too late, now you see the rest of the jousting run.


When she smiles or cheers from the stands you get to inspect her outrageous outfits.  Medieval punk hair over a black see-through dress Jennifer Lopez would wear.


An Audrey Hepburn 1940’s lampshade hat and dress.  Golden silk low cut tunic laced together like a spider web.   A silk gown, pale blue, blending through the rainbow of colors as it descends to pagoda sleeves.  Topped with spiked hair, or moussed hair, or crimped hair.


This is a fun movie.  Watch it, and be prepared to smile as you think back to it all week!

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