It’s Summertime. Watch a Movie.

Surely, you’ve sung along to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” at a baseball game at least once.  Thump, thump, clap. It’s been the most popular sports anthem for decades.  Thump, thump, clap. But at a jousting event?400px-Paulus_Hector_Mair_Tjost_fig2

Both royalty and peasants are into it in the opening scene of A Knight’s Tale. Thump, thump, clap.  Among the multitude there’s a group of half-naked men swilling beer, a youngster wearing face paint, a maiden swaying to the music, a spectator chomping on a turkey leg, and the crowd does the wave. It’s just like it’s the 1970s rather than the 1370s.

Classic rock songs catapult the story plot point by plot point.  When a wannabe knight starts winning tournaments, we hear Bachman-turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business.”

At a feast following a day of martial games, guests dance to David Bowie’s “Golden Years.”

When our hero with his squires returns to London for the world championship, they are welcomed loudly and enthusiastically by Thin Lizzy singing “The Boys Are Back in Town.”

At the conclusion? It’s Robbie Williams and Queen performing “We Are the Champions.”

The cast embodies the high-spirited characters they play.  Heath Ledger as William Thatcher, the wannabe knight who actually becomes a knight, is both gritty and gallant, taking several body blows for his love interest. (Or is that a stunt double?)

Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk, who play his loyal squires, are supportive and protective, and we admire them for it.

Paul Bettany is Geoffrey Chaucer, yes, that Chaucer, presumably collecting material for his grand opus The Canterbury Tales.  He is uninhibited and unrestrained with an engaging way with words, announcing William’s appearance at the beginning of each meet with much bravado and bluster.

There are no damsels in distress here, just a bevy of beauties who can take care of themselves. Among them are Shannyn Sossamon playing Lady Jocelyn, a strong-minded royal willing to forsake her heritage to take up with a commoner, and Laura Fraser as Kate, a widowed blacksmith guided by hope who throws her lot in with the lads.

Opening in May 2001, A Knight’s Tale wasn’t among the summer blockbusters.  Those honors went to The Mummy Returns released a week earlier and Pearl Harbor released a week later.  But it’s a great summer movie.

Thump, thump, clap.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

For George R.R. Martin aficionados, his novella The Hedge Knight recounts a similar tale.


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