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More Than 20 Years Later, A Knight’s Tale Is Still the Perfect Movie


  • A Knight’s Tale is a well-rounded film that combines action, romance, comedy, and a heartwarming story of triumph over adversity.
  • The movie includes historical figures such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Edward the Black Prince, adding a sense of historical representation to the 14th-Century setting.
  • The deliberate use of classic rock music creates a unique and enjoyable soundtrack that enhances the viewing experience.

The 2001 film A Knight’s Tale tells the story of a peasant squire named William Thatcher (portrayed by the late great Heath Ledger). William takes over for his knight, Sir Ector, when the man passes away unexpectedly. Alongside his fellow squires, Roland and Wat (Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk), William continues to compete under a false name and faked nobility papers, leading to an adventure unlike any other. During their travels and jousting tournaments they come across a slew of people — including a noble lady named Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon) who catches William’s fancy — that are willing to stand by someone who is only trying to make a better life than the one that has dealt to them.

A story of triumph over adversity, love, and, above all, believing in oneself, A Knight’s Tale is a box office success, with the movie making a respectable $117.5 million worldwide during its theatrical release, per Box Office Mojo. As one of the most perfect films to ever exist, everyone should see A Knight’s Tale at least once in their lifetime, and here’s why.

Checks Most of the Genre Boxes

Columbia Pictures

Written, co-produced, and directed by Brian Helgeland, A Knight’s Tale is one of those films with something for everyone. It has a great action storyline, with the jousting being one of the main focuses, a heartwarming story of William trying to be more than the poor life he was born into and ultimately make his father proud, a cliché romance that impacts the story overall, an antagonist named Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell) that sees William as less than himself, and a brilliant sense of comedic timing that will have viewers laughing along with the characters.

Set in the 14th Century, the movie uses old-school filmmaking on purpose, including an iconic soundtrack filled with well-known 70s music and almost too many pop culture references. A Knight’s Tale knows it is ridiculous sometimes (and often leans into it), but can be serious other times, which makes for a duality that works well depending on the moment viewers are seeing.

Related: A Knight’s Tale: Where the Cast is Today

Includes Historical Representation

Paul Bettany in A Knight's Tale
Columbia Pictures

William meets a bunch of characters while traveling around for the jousting tournaments in A Knight’s Tale, and one of the first people he meets is an equally impoverished Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) who, in the film, is a writer and dramatic announcer with gambling problems, and has a habit of losing both his money and his clothing. The real life Geoffrey Chaucer was a poet and writer most known for his story, The Canterbury Tales, from which the film takes several plot points.

Another historical figure that is represented in the film is Edward the Black Prince, the future king of England at the time the film is set in. In the film, Edward is portrayed by actor James Purefoy, and William earns his respect by still being willing to joust against him despite him being royalty, earning Edward’s respect. Considering the soundtrack, modern styling, and other updated moments, having both of these real-life people included in the movie adds the historical representation within the film, which is much needed in a movie set in the 14th Century.

Related: Paul Bettany’s 8 Best Performances, Ranked

Boasts an Amazing Soundtrack

Health Ledger and Shannyn Sossamon in A Knight's Tale
Columbia Pictures

One of the things that sets A Knight’s Tale apart from other medieval action comedy films is its deliberate use of classic rock music that was made a very long time after the movie is set. The movie includes 10 well-known rock songs: “We Will Rock You” by Queen, “Low Rider” by War, “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “Golden Years” by David Bowie, “Further on Up the Road” by Eric Clapton, “Get Ready” by Rare Earth, “I Want to Take You Higher” by Sly and the Family Stone, “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Think Lizzy, “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC, and “We Are the Champions” by Robbie Williams & Queen. Indeed, many viewers will be singing along with as they watch.

In addition, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s musical piece “Fratres (Brothers)” plays in the background during the moment where William becomes aware of his noble birth and is knighted by Prince Edward. All of this amazing music makes the film’s soundtrack one of the best parts of the viewing experience.

A Knight’s Tale is currently streaming with a subscription on both Hulu and Prime Video.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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