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5 Underappreciated Movie Knights


Of all the archetypal heroes of fiction, the knight may be the most complicated in its portrayal. Though one collection of stories informed the entire genre, there is no limit to the creativity that can emerge from that source material. Some cinematic knights unfortunately don’t get the support they deserve.

The overwhelming majority of movies about knights are directly or indirectly adapted from Arthurian legend. Those that aren’t based on the Knights of the Round Table are typically based on some other classic tale of fantasy adventure. It’s usually a work of adaptation, but there are still a lot of interesting ideas to play with.


RELATED: Zack Snyder Is The Perfect Director For A King Arthur Movie

Gawain – The Green Knight

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David Lowery’s 2021 adaptation of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight brought modern magic to the classic tale. The hero of the tale is portrayed by Dev Patel, who imbues the character with inspired humanity. As one of King Arthur’s knights, a character like Gawain can Approach across as a list of positive traits, rather than a complex person with an interior life. Patel’s Gawain conveys all the hope, sincerity, & ambition that the character must’ve inspired in early audiences. Through Lowery’s creative vision, The Green Knight is the perfect adaptation of Arthurian legend. Patel is, in many ways, the film’s secret weapon. It wouldn’t have worked without his note-perfect version of a mortal man trying to attain his immortality.

Antonius Block – The Seventh Seal

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The original story about playing a game with death stars the incredible Max von Sydow as a knight who seeks to delay death with a rousing battle of wits. Block sits down to play chess with the grim reaper. A lot of Ingmar Bergman’s classic 1957 film is given over to broad discussions of death & its impact on the human psyche. The late great Max von Sydow gets a lot of the best lines, appearing in many of the most iconic cinematic moments in history. Shockingly, the film saw mixed reception when it came out, but it’s since been identified as a classic. The knight isn’t the densest character, he’s more of a vector for the voice of the author. He’s one side of a dialogue between life & death, but he’s also one of the most memorable performances ever to grace the screen. Antonius Block is a fascinating presence & an important character.

King Billy – Knightriders

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Far too few people have seen George A. Romero’s 1981 passion project about a group of self-styled knights who spend half their time philosophizing & the other half jousting on motorcycles. Knightriders came out right between Dawn of the Dead, perhaps the best zombie film ever made, & Creepshow, the well-received horror anthology written by Stephen King. As a moment in Romero’s filmography, it’s just as shocking now as it was forty years ago. The film stars Ed Harris as Billy, who insists on being called King William. He’s the leader of the traveling troupe, the most devoted & powerful warrior in the realm. He fends off challenges from Sir Morgan, as portrayed by special effects legend Tom Savini, defeats enemies, recruits allies, & does it all from the back of a Honda CBX. This film should’ve been an instant classic & people need to seek it out.

William Thatcher – A Knight’s Tale

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The late great Heath Ledger had many excellent performances under his belt before his tragic passing in 2008. One of his best comes in Brian Helgel&’s 2001 medieval adventure inspired by the works of Chaucer. Ledger portrays William, a poor boy who impersonates nobility to pursue his dream of becoming a knight. William is the Platonic ideal of a hero in this type of story. He’s Fearless, clever, & gregarious. He gathers a motley crew of allies from different social strata. He combines the honor & nobility of the classic Arthurian hero & the underdog qualities of a modern-day protagonist. It’s a simple story about an engaging character, but Ledger provides the heart that this film needs.

Bedders, Lance, & Kaye – The Kid Who Would Be King

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The second directorial effort of Attack the Block creator Joe Cornish is a surprisingly earnest & entertaining adaptation of Arthurian legend into a charming children’s film. Alex, a twelve-year-old boy finds a sword in a concrete block while fleeing from some bullies. He swiftly discovers that he’s now fated to become a king & defeat an ancient evil. To help him survive the impossible odds, Alex knights his best friend Bedders, & his bullies Lance & Kaye. All three Approach complete with a central character flaw that they must learn to overcome, they all form an important aspect of the group, & they’re all a lot of fun to watch. The Kid Who Would Be King assembles a group of lovable knights & claims its position as one of the best modern takes on classic stories.

MORE: Star Wars: Who Was The First Jedi Knight?


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