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Film
A Knights Tale is set in 14th century England at a time when nobility was the ruling factor and lay-people were looked down upon. Heath Ledger portrays William Thatcher, a young man who grew up on the opposite end of Lords and Ladies. As a child, he dreamed of being a knight, participating in the often gruesome, but exciting sport of jousting. The only problem, only those who have a lineage of nobility may participate. Thus a chain of events in the first twenty minutes of the film sets up a con that will allow William to compete in the events.

Knight's Tale, A
William, along with two squires, Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk) begin their trek to his first tournament when they run into a naked man, Geoffery Chaucer (Paul Bettany, and yes, he is the Chaucer that wrote The Canterbury Tales). Chaucer is scooped up by the men to join them, beginning, a journey through numerous tournaments in an effort to get to the world championship jousting match.

While on the jousting circuit, William meets a beautiful maiden, Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon) who is instantly smitten with. Now as only typical Hollywood fashion would have it, William of course begins efforts to impress the lovely lady and falls in love with her. In the meantime, the rogue and rich Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell) is also attracted to Jocelyn, which soon begins a competition in not only the jousting arena, but also for the heart of the lady.

Ledger’s performance in this film is charming and absolutely wonderful. He is good at playing the “down and out” character that dreams of lofty achievements and will stop at nothing to reach his goal. Keep an eye on Ledger; he is a star in the making. After his role in The Patriot this was obvious, but if he continues to make films that are consistently different, he will be able to display his varied talents as an actor.

Sossamon is convincing as the woman of nobility who the sparring knight’s are trying to win over. Her beauty and deep brown eyes allow us to peer into her soul to see which of the men she is really interested in. Take a guess…I’m not going to ruin it for you.

Although the story is predictable, there are a few twists and turns that advance this exciting and adventurous story. The use of a rock and roll soundtrack was at first a concern for me, but I must say, it really enhances the film, giving it a contemporary feel on a classic story that is a treat to watch.  

Video
A Knight’s Tale is a fantastic transfer presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The rich, sharp colours only enhance the film. They are like bursts of life! As usual, because this is a relatively new film, very little specks, blemishes or scratches were present. In fact, I didn’t notice any. One thing I have noticed about Columbia Tri-Star DVD’s is their attention to detail when it comes to the transfer of their films to the DVD format.

Knight's Tale, A
Audio
Once again, Columbia Tri-Star is offering a gloriously rich Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound audio track. The track is truly amazing as it is nearly in use throughout the entire film. My speakers and subwoofer were given a workout for the 130 minutes of this film, something that I haven’t experienced in a long time. The clash of the lances to armour, the rock and roll soundtrack, and strong sound effects come through with an amazing amount of clarity, very impressive.

Extras
Could it be that Columbia Tri-Star is taking “advice” from Fox and packing in the extra features? One would think so, as this disc is loaded with over an hour of features and that’s not including the commentary. With that said, we will begin with the most obvious feature, a scene-specific commentary from writer, director and producer Brian Helgeland and Paul Bettany (Chaucer in the film). Just listening to this track is a learning experience in itself. Unlike some other commentary’s, this one is quite enthusiastic, with Helgeland dispelling information about the filming process, the action scenes, and the actors themselves. Bettany also gave some interesting titbits, but I didn’t find his contributions all that exciting…Helgeland was much more interesting.

Next up, eleven behind the scenes featurettes. These were interesting, ranging from topics that included costumes, music, special effects, locations and others. However, it became rather annoying to select each featurette following the end of the previous one. The majority of the featurettes were two and half to three minutes long which, my opinion, if they were all strung together, it would equal one large featurette that was basically separated to make the appearance of several extra features. The featurettes were interesting, and gave an enormous amount of insight into the making of the film; it just would have been easier to see them all together.

Columbia Tri-Star has also included the standard, promotional in nature HBO First Look special that runs approximately fifteen minutes. If you are familiar with this HBO feature, it is generally very promotional, and does not hold much replay value. Much of the information presented is a retread of what was featured in the featurettes previously mentioned.

There are also six deleted scenes included, which despite my usual abhorrence to deleted scenes, aren’t too bad. I can understand why they were deleted, and Helgeland also offers a director’s and editor’s commentary which gives a better insight into why the scenes were nixed. I am still not a huge fan of deleted scenes, but I found these to be easier to watch then some others that I have seen.

Finally, there is a music video with Robbie Williams and Queen performing “We are the Champions”, theatrical trailers for A Knight’s Tale and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and a filmographies section.

Knight's Tale, A
Overall:
I was disappointed that I missed this film in the theatre, but I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to catch it on DVD in full surround sound. A Knight’s Tale is a rousing, exciting tale with a rockin’ soundtrack. The story, although not incredibly original, is good, and the film is a definite must see! Those who think films about the era of knights of the roundtable will be pleasantly surprised. Ledger is a star in the making, while Helgeland is a director who will be around for a while; keep an eye on both of them. A Knight’s Tale is a film that perfectly blends a classic story with elements from contemporary times.


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