A Knight's Tale Movie Poster Image

A Knight's Tale

Slightly edgy medieval tale with rock music.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 132 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

William defies the class system to compete as a knight.


Lots of jousting and sword-fighting violence, not too graphic.


Mild sexual situation, brief non-sexual nudity.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking


Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is very violent, with a lot of shattered lances and battered combatants, but little gore. There is some strong language and a mild sexual situation.

What's the story?

Heath Ledger plays William Thatcher, a knight's squire who steps into his liege's armor when the knight is killed in a jousting match. All he is thinking of is winning the match so that he can get some food for himself and the other two squires ("The Full Monty's" Mark Addy as Roland and "28 Days'" Alan Tudyk as Wat). But once the armor is on and the lance is in his hand, his childhood dream of being a knight is awakened, and he persuades Roland and Wat to help him pretend to be a nobleman, so he can continue to compete.

Is it any good?


This is Ivanhoe crossed with Rocky for the MTV/WWF generation, and it is great silly movie fun. Of course William meets a beautiful princess (newcomer Shannyn Sossamon) and an arrogant champion who competes with him for the princess and the title (Rufus Sewell, wonderfully brooding as Count Adhemar). The secret of William's low birth is revealed at the most dramatic moment. But there is a happily-ever-after ending that is just right for this fairy tale. Ledger holds his own well in his first leading role, and Bettany is completely winning as Chaucer, who may have a gambling problem but who knows the value of words. Sossamon, in her first role, is pretty, but unimpressive. The art direction sets the scene beautifully, and, if you are willing to give it a chance, the music works very well, especially in a dance sequence that shifts about 600 years into David Bowie mid-step. I'm sure that if Bachman Turner Overdrive had been aroundin the 1400's, they would have played "Taking Care of Business" during combat.

If the idea of a medieval jousting movie set to classic rock songs like "We Will Rock You," "Low Rider," and "The Boys are Back in Town" bothers you, forget A KNIGHT'S TALE and rent Ivanhoe instead. But if the idea appeals to you, get some popcorn and get ready for a ravishingly good time. In other words, leave skepticism behind and it will rock you.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the pros and cons of the use of anachronisms (Wat says, "It's a lance? hel--LO!") to tell this story, and about the loyalty shown by William, Jocelyn, Roland, Wat, and Geoffrey (and Coville) to each other. They should also talk about why Adhemar was willing to do anything to win and how he would have felt if he had been successful. Why does the Prince want to compete without letting anyone know who he is? Why was it important for William to allow Coville to lose with honor? And families should discuss Jocelyn's order to William that he lose to prove his love for her, and whether that was fair or kind. Take a look at Leigh Hunt's poem, "The Glove and the Lions" at for a similar story that concludes, "No love," quoth he, "but vanity sets love a task like that." They might want to take a look at a modernized version of "The Pardoner's Tale" to see if Geoffrey Chaucer kept his word and got his revenge.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 11, 2001
DVD/Streaming release date:June 4, 2002
Cast:Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon
Director:Brian Helgeland
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:132 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:action violence, some nudity and brief sex-related dialogue

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Teen, 17 years old Written byChocolate body dude April 9, 2008

It speared my brain!

The film was viewed by my class in history. I saw the end at home because it was so good. It beats staring at the pavement because of the great humour.But the fasinating thing about this film is the music - you can't beat a bit of Queen!
Adult Written bysting April 9, 2008

Nice action movie.

It's rated for a reason. And there is brief nudity of a mans naked back side. But everyones back side looks the same so its not so bad. The story line was very good. And through all the violence of fighting there were soft and tender moments also. And a lot of good laughs. A good movie for teens and adults.
Parent Written bymjquinn April 9, 2008

Excellent Family Movie

Admittedly, a major thread is Jousting/Sword fighting (also the courting of a woman) with brief nudity (man walking past on the road. But my children throughly enjoyed the music and the Hero standing up to the bad man...(especially beating him at a game, instead of killing him). Gambling gets brought up clearly as a vice. My 8yr old girl, loved the story; my 4yr old boy "jousted" at things for a week. I am good with 8+, if parents are prepared to talk about things that come up.