A Knight’s Tale: Want To Know What The Studio Was Thinking?

Written by Brian Helgeland
Directed by Brian Helgeland

STUDIO REP #1: I’ve got a great idea for a movie
STUDIO REP #2: What is it?
REP #1: We take Gladiator and set it in medieval times.
REP #2: Are you insane?
REP #1: No, wait, it’ll work. We have a peasant who wants to joust like a knight. You know, like Rocky.
REP #2: Jousting? Hmm… that could work.
STUDIO REP #3: Hey, what’s up?
REP #2: He’s got an idea for a new movie.
REP #3: Really?
REP #2: Gladiator, set in medieval times.
REP #3: You’ve got to be kidding me.
REP #1: No, it’ll work. You see, a peasant wants to joust like a knight. It’s sort of got Rocky influences too.
REP #3: Well, we need a teen blockbuster. Can we work it in?
REP #1: Sure we can. We just make the cast all young people. We get some hot, young new star to be the peasant. He can strut around with his shirt half open a lot.
REP #2: And recite poetry.
REP#1: Oh, that’s good!
REP #3: Only it’s not his poetry, he has someone write it, like that Saran Wrap guy…
REP #2: Saran Wrap guy?
REP #3: You know, the guy with the nose… Tom Berenger…. Oh, what’s his name?
REP #2: Saran Wrap…. Berenger… You mean Cyrano de Bergerac!
REP #3: Is that his name?
REP #1: Okay, so we have a young, hot looking peasant who wants to be a knight and a buddy who writes excellent poetry.
STUDIO REP #4: What’s up guys?
REP #3: We’re working on a new movie idea,
REP #2: A peasant who wants to be a knight.
REP #1: Yeah, sort of like Gladiator in medieval times, with some Rocky influences.
REP #4: Well, who’s got the Talia Shire angle?
REP #2: Gee, we didn’t think of that. There has to be a girl.
REP #3: A girl whom he recites the poetry for…
REP #4: Poetry?
REP #2: Yeah, see, he has a buddy who writes poetry for him, like Cyrano de Bergerac.
REP #4: Well, what else does this guy do besides write poetry? He’s got to be more interesting than that.
REP #3: What if we made him like a ring announcer on the WWF?
REP #1: Hey, that’s good!
REP #2: So he writes poetry and he’s a ring announcer….
REP #4: And he has a gambling problem!
REP #1: Wow, what a well-rounded character. We should make him someone famous, like Shakespeare.
REP #3: No, Shakespeare’s too famous. We need someone no teenagers have ever heard of.
REP #2: Chaucer!
REP #3: Saucer? Who the hell is Saucer? We’re not bringing in a science-fiction angle…
REP #2: Not “saucer” you idiot, Chaucer. As in Caterbury Tales, Chaucer.
REP #1: Whatever. So we’ve got a peasant who wants to be a knight. He recites poetry that his buddy, Chaucer, who’s got a gambling problem writes for him and acts like a ring-announcer for the WWF. And he wears his shirt half-open a lot.
REP #4: Back to the girl…
REP #3: She’s got to be beautiful….
REP #2: And unattainable….
REP #3: Well, what else do you have? I mean, there’s got to be more to the story than that. Was there any cool music in medieval times? We need a soundtrack tie-in.
REP #4: ‘Fraid not. There were strummers walking around in tights and stuff… Not much we could tie into…
REP #2: Well, who cares? We’re selling this to teenagers. We’ll just throw in some great music. Great British music. You know Queen, David Bowie… they’ll never know the difference anyway. To them, anything from the seventies might as well have existed in medieval times.
REP #3: As long as we end up with a soundtrack we can market along with this that will sell.
REP #4: It’s still not enough… I mean, there has to be more of a story. Is there a jousting world championship?
REP #2: Well, if there isn’t, we’ll make one.
REP #4: But there has to be some conflict. Maybe the chick is married, or something….
REP #3: Someone else vying with the peasant for her affection!
REP #1: Oh, that’s good!
REP #4: Are you getting all of this down? You’d better be or we’ll have your head!
REP #1: Of course I am; I’m writing as fast as I can…
REP #2: This other guy has to be a knight – they have to face each other in battle.
REP #3: And he has to be evil, deceitful, a snake whom everyone hates and can’t stand.
REP #4: You know, I think this will work! We’ve got a hot looking young peasant pretending to be a knight, vying with an evil knight for the affections of the fair maiden to some cool seventies music. He’s got a side-kick who writes poetry for him and has lots of gambling debts, but also is a great announcer at the competitions…
REP #3: We need more than one side-kick.
REP #2: I was thinking the same thing. Add a couple other guys in there. One needs to be real skinny and one fat, so we can tell them apart.
REP #4: We need another chick, too.
REP #2: Well the maiden can have a friend…
REP #4: No, another female. A stronger one that chicks today can “relate” to.
REP #1: Oh, someone they think will be better for the peasant-knight than the fair maiden! That’s good!
REP #2: But who is she?
REP #3: She has to pal around with all of the guys; sort of be one of them…
REP #2: She could sew his clothes…
REP #3: Oh no, I have it! She can make his armor! She’s like the horseshoe girl too!
REP #4: Horseshoes? You mean a blacksmith?
REP #3: Yeah, that’s it! She’s a blacksmith and designs the knight’s armor. Only it’s not like any other armor they’ve seen before.
REP #4: Can we tie that in anywhere? I mean, I know there’s no clothing company that makes armor, but can’t we like put an Addidas logo on it and get some sponsor money?
REP #3: That would be great! We have to run that past the Addidas reps and see what they think.
REP #2: Well, if they reject it, we’ll just shop it around. Maybe Nike wants to start a new line of body armor or something.
REP #1: I don’t know, guys, this might be a bit too lame. It might be a bit too contrived…
REP #4: Nonsense, it’s perfect! Now, the bad guy has to find out at some point that he’s not really a nobleman. We have to create a conflict.
REP #3: That’s perfect. But he has to get out of it somehow.
REP #2: How does someone who’s not a nobleman become a nobleman? Didn’t they do that for The Beatles and Sean Connery?
REP #4: Only royalty can do that. You know like a king or Queen Elizabeth.
REP #2: So for some reason, a King or a Prince or something has to want to make the peasant into a nobleman.
REP #3: What if he saves the guy’s life?
REP #1: No, that’s definitely too contrived guys. This is getting ridiculous.
REP #2: No, I think it’ll work. We just have to show lots of jousting scenes to make it like an action film, and figure out a way to get him out of the conflict…
REP #4: I like the royalty angle. What can we do, though, that will be believable?
REP #1: Believable? You’ve got seventies rock music, a hot-looking peasant who walks around with his shirt open, reciting poetry written by Chaucer with gambling debts and suddenly you’re worried about it being contrived?
REP #3: What if he wins a match against a Prince?
REP #2: Hey that’s good!
REP #4: Better yet, what if he’s the only one who will compete fairly against the Prince when everyone else automatically lets him win ‘cause he’s the Prince? Or something like that….
REP #2: I think you’ve got it!
REP #3: So the Prince comes after he’s been exposed and makes him into a noble knight.
REP #4: Speaking of “exposed”, we should get some nudity in here as well.
REP #2: Well, Chaucer could keep losing his clothes when he gambles.
REP #4: Well, I wasn’t thinking of that, but that’s good!
REP #3: We’ll just put the hot-looking chick in some skimpy dresses.
REP #1: They didn’t wear skimpy dresses back then!
REP #4: Who cares? We’re pandering to the teenage male audience here. We just need some nudity and action. Read it all back to me now, will you?
REP #1: We have a peasant who wants to be a knight. He walks around with his shirt half open. He has a buddy, Chaucer, who gambles and loses his clothes a lot. This buddy writes poetry that the peasant/knight likes to recite. He has two other sidekicks, one who’s real skinny and one who’s fat so you can tell them apart. There’s a chick who wears some skimpy dresses that he’s hot for but she’s unattainable. There’s another chick who’s way cooler and is his blacksmith and designs his armor. There’s a bad guy who wants the hot-chick all for himself. He finds out that his competition is really a peasant and gets him in trouble. Earlier, the peasant/knight competed against a Prince when no one else would, so the Prince makes him into a nobleman so he can compete again.
REP #3: Don’t forget the rock music! Lots of seventies rock music.
REP #4: And then there’s the climactic match where he must face the evil guy. We can have him get beat up like Stallone did in the first Rocky movie…
REP #2: Way cool… Now, who are we going to cast this with?
REP #4: Who cares? They just have to look good. They don’t have to act….
REP #3: Hey, can we close the movie with AC/DC? They’re my favorite band and maybe I could get to meet them this way….
REP #4: We can do anything we want. No one’s going to know the difference anyway.

Published by Patti Aliventi

Once upon a time there was this website called Epinions. I wrote thousands of reviews there. I love books, movies, and television; mostly science fiction. I'm a gun-totin', meat-eatin' liberal with libertarian leanings who will voice my opinion.

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