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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

A Knight's Tale (2001)

Not familiar with this movie? Check out my Instagram reels (@shannonheibler) for a one minute recap!


I was 17 when I saw this in the theater. I wasn't even a medievalist nerd yet but I was an English Lit nerd so it appealed. Imagine my goody-two-shoes surprise when Paul Bettany's butt wandered on the screen! I was scandalized but a little chuffed because it felt like I was getting away with something. Oh, 17-year-old Shannon. It's a butt. You'll be okay.


I love this movie. I find I almost always want to write that at the start of each of these entries but I almost always stop myself because "duh". I love this movie and that's why I own it. Or worse, I stop myself from saying it because the movie seems silly somehow. Like I'm embarrassed by liking a movie. Like it's not good enough. And if this project and this particular movie have anything to teach me, it's that anything is good enough by virtue of being loved. I've also come to understand that my favorite movies are the earnest ones. I'm like the Great Pumpkin for popcorn flicks. The more sincere they are, the more likely I am to visit and friends, this movie is Sincere.


I very often realize that a lot of my familial pain comes from wanting my parents, my dad in particular, to be proud of me. So movies in which a dad is made proud tend to undo me. I know so much of the searching in my life has been for a state of existence that's "enough" to be proud of. Not accomplishments, not my perfectionism and endless striving, just being. If I could change my stars, it would be for that thing. And there's something so pure about the scene when William "follows his feet" back home, and his father is not just proud of who his son has become, but knowing how important it was to William. I'm describing that poorly. It's so much less that John Thatcher's son is now a knight, but that John Thatcher's son was able to be proud of himself. It's a beautiful thing and I kind of wish the movie (clocking in at a slightly overlong 2:15) gave a breath to. William ultimately achieves it all for William, and his loved ones are proud of *that*. Not the tournament wins. The real prize is your own name, and pride in it.


A chief fondness I have for this film is for its first rate crew of little known (at the time) character actors. Paul Bettany before he unnerved me. An ADORABLE Mark Addy. James Purefoy whose butt is not the butt that we see! Unheard of (that man, whose work I adore, is just so naked in nearly every thing he's done)! BABY ALAN TUDYK! (I, of course, loved him as Wash on Firefly but in my heart of hearts, I love him for his voice work and especially for this video that I think of daily and it makes me laugh every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaGYXjMwS60 ).


I was thinking, going into this viewing, gosh whoever thought of contemporizing Chaucer with a glam rock soundtrack is a kindred spirit. (The IMDB credits do not support this theory.) I love classic rock, especially any of the sexually charged lead singers who flirted with gender fluidity. So naturally, my favorite dance number in any movie ever is probably the Golden Years sequence. It's swaying and punching and hair tossing medievally to David Bowie. I regularly tease Ben that if we ever got married, I would flash mob this dance number at the reception. I love it.


It's just a medieval confection and how delightful to have been the right age to have it marketed to me when it came out. If you haven't watched it recently, sit down with an open heart and I hope it makes you smile and cheer and cry. I'm delighted once more with the Random Number Generator for picking this for the week I'm going to see The Green Knight which is, I hope, going to be a new kind of medieval confection. (Update: I have seen The Green Knight and it is a WILD ride. The most visually sumptuous thing I've ever seen but it is WEIRD and a LOT of dudebros were wildly disappointed as they walked out of the theater. But you're not a dudebro, yeah?)


Lacquer and faux leading on acrylic panel

8x12"

"A Riot of Color in a Dreary Grey World"


Takeaways:

-I was really pleased with the idea of this one and with my initial execution. I struggled a bit with the lacquer. It pulled away from the leading as it dried and then additional applications were Not Even. And it bubbled as it dried, it seems. I chased bubbles as I painted, getting rid of most of them but then after eight hours of drying, lots of bubbles. Ben says it gives it texture so I won't fret about it too much.

-I want to work with Ben to create a wood frame for this piece so stay tuned for an update.

-I realized halfway through painting that I should have done it backwards (the backside of the piece looks stunning... but backwards). Ah well. Lesson learned.

-There's a tradition in medieval illumination of adding snails to scenes of knights jousting and it cracks me up so I had to add a wee snail.

-I wish I would have better incorporated the lily for Chaucer's "lily among the thorns" but overall I'm really pleased with my layout and capturing of the medieval style.

-I'm in love with the colors these paints provide. Well worth learning how to use more effectively.


Next week: a different kind of Riot of Color in a Dreary World, filmed partially in glamorous Montclair, New Jersey... To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (which is somehow the first appearance of Robin Williams in this project (and A Knight's Tale was entry 37!!??!!))!


Have a great week! Make it a Dev Patel Summer and check out The Green Knight!

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