After sitting through Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel (2021), which has been measured and found very wanting, I decided to put on a much more upbeat picture featuring armored men on horseback with sharp objects. A fun addition to Heath Ledger’s tragically short filmography, A Knight’s Tale (Disc/Download) is what happens when a director who is not Baz Luhrmann wants to make a Baz Luhrmann-style movie set at the Renaissance Festival. Is it perfect? No. But the music will remind you of your dad’s favorite classic rock station, and Heath is a great onscreen kisser. This, of course, makes it worth our time.
Closely resembling the feral child in Mad Max for the first chunk of the story, Heath plays William Thacker, a poor squire to a noble jouster. When the nobleman suddenly dies, William decides to take his place in the tournaments. He is aided by his fellow squires and struggling writer Geoffrey Chaucer, who has falsified documents declaring the peasant to be Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland. William cuts those unflattering dreadlocks, gets some fancy armor made by a feisty Scotswoman, and practices his jousting to the tune of War’s “Low Rider”. This is a true rags-to-riches story as William aims to change the stars of destiny that would have him remain a poor servant. He must defeat frequent film villain Rufus Sewell while still holding onto the one thing that has gotten him this far, against all odds- his pure heart.
If you want a drink inspired by the changing of one’s stars, look no further than this classic apple brandy-based cocktail. It feels period-appropriate to me, and after enough of these, you may be line dancing along to David Bowie’s “Golden Years” right along with Heath and Shannyn Sossamon. While watching A Knight’s Tale, I recommend drinking this classic Star cocktail.
1 ½ oz Apple Brandy
1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
¼ oz Simple Syrup
Pinch Edible Glitter
Dried lemon wheel (for garnish)
Combine apple brandy, vermouth, bitters, simple syrup, and glitter in a shaker with ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
While this movie doesn’t quite get me over the hump of actually wanting to attend the Ren Fest, it’s an enjoyable way to experience the time period from the privacy of my own home. And if you needed any more encouragement, let Heath in leather chaps be the thing that tempts you to press Play. Cheers!