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This feature appears in an extended, remixed form with further coverage in Xposé 56

THE MOVIE:
A Knight's Tale

Heath Ledger as 'knight' William

STARS: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy,
Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany PRODUCER / WRITER / DIRECTOR: Brian Helgeland

THE CONCEPT: William, the son of a poor thatcher, assumes the identity of a knight calling himself Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland. Entering jousting tournaments throughout France, he soon becomes the most celebrated 'nobleman' of his time.

Writer/director Brian Helgeland's view of William's rise to superstar status defies time and place, as he couples rock classics such as Queen's We Will Rock You with scenes of medieval combat.

A Knight's Tale: Film of the Month in Film Review #609

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Film Review #609

THE COMMENTS:

BRIAN HELGELAND:
"Whenever I start to write a screenplay, I get a lot of inspiration from music. I try to pick a kind of music that relates to whatever it is I'm writing at any given time. I thought about what this movie was about, and it seemed to me like a movie about youth, identity, personal expression and freedom, and that seemed to be rock and roll. Then, while I was writing it, I wanted to incorporate that music into the movie. I didn't think about it that much until people reading it said, 'Do you think this is going to work?'"

HEATH LEDGER: (William) Re: the unusual choice in music:
"All the songs were in the script. It's really smart what Brian did with the music, because he broke down the barriers that would have kept the movie historically correct. I guess the good thing about the music was it gave the movie a broader playground to play in."

RUFUS SEWELL: (Count Adhemar):
"Brian filmed it in such a way that he couldn't remove the music. I thought that maybe they'd do it in a safety way, so that if it didn't play well in Wyoming they could remove it. But when you have people clapping and singing along you can't do that, which I thought was really ballsy. I liked that."

Paul Bettany as Chaucer: penis not shownPAUL BETTANY (Chaucer): Re appearing nude in his first scene in the movie.
"For some ungodly reason I end up being nude in a lot of stuff. This was a particularly difficult one, because it was the first day and I had to look relaxed about it. And being an American film, there were seven thousand in the crew. I hear rumors that some people wear socks over their penis, but frankly you're wearing a sock on your penis, aren't you? So you're still drawing attention to yourself. There's a certain grace that comes with taking your clothes off on the first day, which is the respect that is given to you by the rest of the cast, because they look at your body and go, 'God you're brave. You can't even spell gym can you?'"

MARK ADDY: (Roland)
"The nudity that I had to do (in The Full Monty) was very brief and there were six of us. Paul's first day of shooting had him walking through the Prague countryside as bold as brass, totally naked, and he hadn't even met the crew! It took a lot of courage."

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Text by Judy Sloane. All images © Columbia Tristar Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction

Film Review Special #36, Summer Blockbusters 2001 - cover coming soonXpose #56, Summer movies - available soon