Scene Unseen:
A Knight's Tale: Chaucer's Wife

Film Like the High Fidelity scene I featured a few weeks ago, this feels like it would have been one of the moments audiences talked about as they left the cinema. It doesn't move the story forward or tell you anything you might need to know for the rest of the film to work, but its about character and even though I love the film, I think director Brian Helgeland and editor Kevin Stitt really dropped the ball when they failed to include this. Thank goodness for dvd.

Apart from anything else it features Olivia Williams in a cameo role. Most visible via her appearance as the object of Max's affection in Rushmore, Williams, like her co-star for this scene Laura Fraser is just one of those actresses which really makes a show pick up when she's around. A naked Chaucer is followed into a barn by his cohorts who think he's lost at gambling again. Actually he's enjoying a night with his wife Phillipa (Williams) (a character which doesn't exist in the theatrical cut at all because this scene is missing) and has just popped out for an apple. As they appear through the door to berrate the poet they're startled to find her under the covers and she proceeds to introduce herself by demonstrating her knowledge of them before offering them a bite from her forbidden fruit. Nothing much happens here. Its actually about giving Chaucer's character texture -- that he's not just a wideboy but also a committed husband. Its a Whedonesque surprise designed to create a re-appraisal of his character. There is also a great last line: "They seem much more fun than those boring old pilgrims you hung out with last year..."

The justification given in the filmmaker's commentary is that it appeared just before the grand finale joust in London and slowed up the momentum of the film. I would argue though that it might have increased the emotion of an already heady conclusion because we would have seen what all these people are working for, and also why Chaucer, who according to this film is the most charismatic man alive doesn't have hundreds of women following him around.

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