|Paul Bettany as bitchy Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the main reasons you NEED to see this film.|
From the first minute, A Knight's Tale is awash with self-aware anachronisms, from the soundtrack (Queen; David Bowie; AC/DC) to the fact that in one overhead shot of "medieval" London they have the freaking London Eye made of wood by the Thames. I don't really understand people who frame that as a criticism, since the film never once claims to be historically accurate the way, say, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood touted its "realism". When was the last time you heard someone complain that Pirates of the Caribbean isn't realistic enough? They're similar films -- action/romance comedies with attractive leads and a supporting cast of excellent comedic actors -- but while Pirates has zombies in it (so historical), A Knight's Tale has people dancing to David Bowie and competing in a completely fictitious set of World Cup-like jousting tournaments. Neither of them are historical dramas, they are fantasy movies.
|P.S. The whole "jousting world cup" thing was totally fabricated.|
Thinking about the costumes in this film, most of the characters are dressed like cartoon characters. In fact, it works a lot like a Disney cartoon in general -- obvious colour-coding, immediate visual cues to indicate to younger audiences the difference between the good and evil characters, and lots of physical comedy from Heath Ledger's sidekicks. Due to the presence of a fictionalised version of Chaucer (played brilliantly by Paul Bettany) we know it's set some time in the late 14th century, but it may as well be set any time in the amorphous "olden days" of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc because it doesn't matter.
|"Oh my goodness! Did you know that nobody actually gives a crap what century we're in?"|
As the beautiful princess/love-interest character, Shannyn Sossamon's costumes are probably the furthest from anything remotely resembling medieval garb:
|Photo from Dianne's Costumes & Research.|
looks almost Tudor-era. I love the way the costume designer managed to take a selection of styles from 14th, 15th, 16th-century Europe and use them to inspire a look that meshes with the more traditional costumes of the rest of the film but still immediately sets the character out as beautiful, fashion-forward, and rich. And they've cleverly sidestepped the problems faced by putting a modern actor in clothes originally intended for the medieval body-shape, and designed clothes that flatter Shannyn Sossamon's super-slim, delicate figure. You get the impression that everyone involved in the making of this film had a really great time working on it -- as evidenced by the fact that it's one of the very few films where the DVD commentary (by Paul Bettany and the director, as I recall) is actually interesting and charming instead of a slew of boring technical details.
The other main female character, Kate the farrier, is dressed relatively sensibly, fitting in with most of the peasants/extras.
|Unlike some people, Kate has an actual job instead of just showing up to jousts and looking pretty. You know what? Shannyn Sossamon's character is kind of a WAG!|
|Screencaps from http://www.leavemethewhite.com|
|I particularly enjoy the way Alan Tudyk's outfits have this almost sports team logo-esque motif going on throughout.|
|OMG he's so dreamy!!|
|Try to get a little more brown in there next time, OK? WE WANT IT TO LOOK REALLY GRITTY.|