This goofy scene from A Knight's Tale recreates history far better than a documentary could

When A Knight's Tale came out in 2001, critics snarked about how director Brian Helgeland used contemporary rock music in a medieval jousting flick. But this opening scene, with peasants dancing to Queen at a jousting match, is one of the greatest examples of historical recreation you'll ever see.

Imagine if this scene had had music that was appropriate to the period. It would sound to our modern ears like ye olde lute music, and would result in a kind of Disneyland feeling. But by using Queen's anthem We Will Rock you, and incorporating it into the action (the peasants are actually clapping and singing along), we are suddenly electrified with the knowledge of what a jousting event really would have been like in the 1400s. It was a fucking rock show, people. It was not ye olde dancing and funny wee people. It was getting drunk, hooking up with one of those dancing maids, and bashing the shit out of each other with sticks. In a way, it was a rock concert and NASCAR rolled into one, big insane spectacle.

What this scene captures that no perfectly rendered BBC history could is the actual feeling of the historical event — the excitement and the nastiness. And it does this by breaking the rules of historical reenactment, by allowing a contemporary element into the drama. By making this scene anachronistic, Helgeland made it more realistic.


Maybe it's time to watch A Knight's Tale again. Did you realize it has Heath Ledger, Alan Tudyk, Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones), and Paul Bettany in it? Yeah. It's more awesome than you remember.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Anekanta - spoon denier

Not to mention, the line in the song "I'm kicking your can all over the place" makes a lot more sense when the can in question is actually canned in plate armour.