‘A man can change his stars.’ (A Knight’s Tale, 2001) – Indeed, a man can. As starred by the award-winning actor, Heath Ledger and the multi-talented actress, Shannyn Sossamon, ‘A Knight’s Tale’ shows how a commoner had transformed his destiny through his willpower and courage. The action/adventure, comedy, drama, and romance film directed by Brian Helgeland () and inspired by ‘The Canterbury Tales’ by Geoffrey Chaucer will definitely knock your socks off!
The film was about William Thatcher (Ledger), who like all other peasants, strives hard to earn enough shillings for daily consumption. It is the death of Sir Ector, his master, that contributed to the unfolding of his journey. The demise of his master gave him the opportunity to pretend as the deceased man himself and so continue his lord’s jousting (an old game usually held in tournaments which involves a duel between two male nobles. The nobles ride their own horse while aiming for a hit with their lances to knock down his opponent) to earn sufficient money. After winning the tournament supposed for Sir Ector, William decided to fight again, but this time, he was known as Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein with the help of a playwright, Geoffrey Chaucer. Together with his two cohorts Roland and Wat, they entered a new world – Medieval jousting. In this new world, it is not only money that Thatcher gained but also love, friendship, and skills. (A Knight’s Tale, 2001)
This movie’s weakness is on the way medieval times are depicted. I bet most people would critic about how modernly portrayed the movie is that it disregards the medieval essence of the setting. I, for a change, will praise how it was creatively arranged. I have watched tons of medieval films for the past years and although I was amazed on how they showed people talk and act as if they lived in the old times (without any sprinkle of modernism), I still get the when-will-this-movie-end feeling when I watch them. ‘A Knight’s Tale’ injected a sense of comedy and modernity in its representation which wowed many audiences. ‘Actually lighter, wittier, and more original than it has a right to be.’ (-knights-tale/critic-reviews) - as commented by Michael Atkinson. Another remark by Desson Howe from Washington Post said the movie was ‘Savvy without being smug, cute without being saccharin, and funny without slipping into over-the-top goofiness, this is a 14th-century good time.’ (-srv/entertainment/movies/reviews/knightstalehowe.htm) The organizing of the characters was also excellent. How Geoffrey Chaucer was injected in the film was fantastic. His character gave life to the film.
I have to give minus points on how the story was revised. I think it is better if the story of Kate, William’s blacksmith friend, was emphasized for a little while. Why she badly wanted to go to Paris was pretty vague. The story behind it could’ve been shown just to put a period to some of the viewers’ questions. What’s an additional few seconds to the film’s duration two hours and thirteen minutes ()? Films actually have durations more than that. As for my personal opinion, I think it wouldn’t be boring to add up some scenes because I enjoyed the film.
By the finale of the movie, William was injured badly. Adhemar cheated when he placed a sharp tin metal point on the end of his lance. William can barely joust with his armor wrapped around his body because it disables him to breathe easily so he decided to remove it. It was also strength that he lacked that time. He can’t even carry his lance! They have to strap it on his arms so he can be able to lift it. As the two adversaries finally announced the names of the players, Geoffrey Chaucer, instead of introducing his player as Ulrich Von Liechtenstein introduced him by his real name, William. This in turn blazed in William’s consciousness and so, as he rode his horse, ready to fight, he finally changed his stars.
I think the movie is really for literary appreciation. I haven’t read the book of Geoffrey Chaucer but it would probably be very different from the film. The film was worth watching. The quotes and technicalities, and actors in the film are very fit to the arrangement of the movie. It would be a good movie to watch especially if you’re feeling blue or you have nothing to do.
The all-star film, Mona Lisa Smile, basically portrays women caged in a world defined by customs and traditions. The story unfolds in the fall of 1953. Katherine Watson (Roberts), a teacher in art history, travels from California to England to teach in Wellesley College which is said to have the brightest girls in the country. It was not only Katherine’s desire to impart artistic knowledge to her students but also to make the best out of them. She tried to break down the walls of stereotypes and traditions by encouraging and teaching her students to go beyond their limits and to be who they want to be instead of being succumbed by their society of who they should be. Along Katherine’s journey come trials and circumstances that will shape her relationship with her students. Mona Lisa Smile is ‘a story of women struggling to define themselves in a world that has already defined them.’ ()
The movie is primarily focused on the gender roles (roles that are socially constructed) of a woman. This shows how the society in 1953 gives biases and terms on how a woman should act. Just as illustrated in the movie, Watson was encouraging her students to break free from the norms of their world in belief that such biases that surrounds them refrains them from acting who they desire to be. This desire in her heart was shown when she suggested to Joan Brandwyn (Stiles), one of her students, to get a degree of law in Yale University but unfortunately, Brandwyn did not take the chance. She chose to be a housewife. This shows that some women embrace what society labels to them.
Still, some women accept this just because they are expected to. Betty Warren (Dunst), another of Watson’s students, is the daughter of one of the members of the alumnae association and is the editor of the college newspaper. After marrying the man her parents have arranged for her, she thought she would be happy because being a housewife of a prominent man seems to be the trend in their days. But by the finale of the movie she ended up divorcing her husband, not minding how people would think about her. Giselle Levy (Gyllenhall), another of Watson’s students, was seen as a sex object to her professor, Bill Dunbar (West). Dunbar and Levy were said to have slept with each other before. But after taking the innocence of the damsel, Dunbar turned out leaving her and informing her that they shouldn’t see each other anymore. Levy insisted herself that what she had with Dunbar was just a “fling” relationship even though she was already in love with the man.
Before I end, I would like to put some of the lines of Watson’s letter to Warren. ‘Dear Betty, I came to Wellesley because I wanted to make a difference. But to change for others is to lie to yourself.’ () This opens the door for anyone, even men, to act the things they want to do in spite of how others will think about them. If a woman wants to work, then she should work. If a man’s passion is in cooking, then he should cook. We are not who we are because of what society dictates but we are who we are because of what we believe in.