Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Knight’s Tale

Ran across recently Gilbert, the magazine of the G. K. Chesterton Society of North America. In their sample issue online is an interpretation of the Heath Ledger movie, A Knight’s Tale, which is appropriately Chestertonian—paradoxical and insightful. Reviewer Art Livingston manages to redeem the movie for me (I liked it, but there was definite wincing going on; now I’ll have to watch it again—and isn’t that the point of the best reviews?).

Slowly, I caught on to what the filmmakers had in mind. Only until recently have people paid much attention to minute historical accuracy, and our ancestors would have thought it blatant pedantry to do so. As late as the 18th century, actors trod the boards in performances of Joseph Addison’s Cato while being bedecked in periwigs. Similarly, the real Chaucer cared so little for such accuracy that the laws of chivalry bind an ancient Trojan like Troilus. And then the truth dawned on me: this story is being told the medieval way, just as surely as clocks strike the hour in Julius Caesar—without regard to historicism.

The article is likely to go away after a while, so if anybody needs a copy, let me know.

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