Defend my honor, sir knight
That's code for "ravish me"
You may feel like a poet, but you sound like an idiot. - A Knight’s Tale
The full trailer for A24’s long-awaited Arthurian film, The Green Knight, dropped on Tuesday—the 20th anniversary of the release of A Knight’s Tale, arguably one of the best films about the Middle Ages ever made.
Every day spent waiting for The Green Knight, postponed due to a global event that shall not be named, has been more excruciating than boiling to death in a hollow metal bull, or sitting on a Judas Cradle.
And everyone is, rightfully, losing their minds over Dev Patel.
As am I. But mostly I’m gleefully riding the high of having more medieval content like it’s my loyal, trusted steed. The gorgeous costuming. An aging King Arthur croaking out, “Who can regale me and my queen with some myth?” Gawain suffering nobly to complete his quest (which hopefully will include kissing other knights, if the film remains true to the original story). The sense that the world is so much vaster, stranger, and more magical than he or any of us can imagine—and also that it’s a little bit menacing.
If I had a superpower, it would be time travel. I would use that ability neither to erase my worst mistakes (watching The Lighthouse with my father), nor to relive my happiest moments (every single time I’ve eaten a raspberry tart). Oh, no. I would go back in time to the Middle Ages.
Not to live there, of course, because I like minty fresh breath, and not dying from stepping on a rusty nail. (Funny how that stopped happening so much when tetanus vaccines became a thing. Funny how vaccines work! Who could have thunk. Not the poor peasants who expired from stepping on rusty nails, that’s for sure.)
But I would simply, dearly, wholeheartedly love to witness the medieval era in all its rotten splendor, even if just for a day. It was a different world than we’ll ever know, rich with girl saints and mad kings, mystic nuns and bawdy alehouse tales. University students were even worse than they are now, getting into deadly days-long riots over subpar wine. Forbidden love, treacherous games of politics—and we can’t forget the penis trees and the giant snails gracing the marginalia of gilded manuscripts.
But of course it wasn’t that glamorous, either. One third of Europe’s population died during the Black Plague. ABBA hadn’t been invented yet. And everyone was way shorter than I’m comfortable thinking about.
Still, how glorious a time, which made it possible to nail a piece of paper to a church door and spark a religious schism that would change the world forever…eventually leading to Joseph Fiennes’s role as Martin Luther in the 2003 film Luther…which then caused a sexual awakening for at least one student suffering through a Catholic high school Church history class in 2013.
Just look at that tonsure. Positively tantalizing.
I mean, one could write an entire essay on how this role could have led to the cultural watershed moment that was Andrew Scott as The Priest in Fleabag. I won’t write it, but send it to me if you do.
Wow, this post was about the Middle Ages and somehow it devolved into lusting after priests. Possibly my tastes have been corrupted. Someone alert Commander Waterford.
Actually, let’s just go with it.
This is a Best Medieval Men listicle now.
Before we get into it, I cordially invite you to listen to Hildegard von Blingin’ and her top hit, “Bad Romance Bardcore Medieval Style Cover.” For the ambience, you know?
In fourth place, and I hate to say this, I really do, but: Timmy Chalamet as Henry V in The King. It’s the tonsure again.
Next, Adetomiwa Edun as Sir Elyan of BBC Merlin fame. Well met, good sir. I love your cape.
Second place. Joseph Fiennes. Martin Luther. We’ve been over this.
And the best for last: Heath Ledger as William Thatcher in A Knight’s Tale. You’re looking at perfection right here.
All I’m saying is, if I had lived back then and didn’t die before the age of 2, I might have had a beautiful Thelma and Louise moment with this nun who faked her own death to live deliciously.
Stuck in this quotidian era of evil billionaires and modern plumbing, I await The Green Knight with bated breath, and daydream every day about how I’ll rearrange my list upon watching Dev Patel glisten in his shining armor.