Our Brainy Lecture looks for mass and finds it in the most surprising place. In Songs under the Microscope we explore Nanci Griffith's response to a setback in her 1993 hit Tecumseh Valley. Unlike every other podcast we are in colour, and the colour this week is Bastard Amber so point your browsers at Pantone 148C. Our section that goes by many names including A Greyer Tampon and Mangy Port Area considers the Anagram form of the poem Fi by Pudgy Rail Drink. A Sauce a Sauce My Kingdom for a Sauce is going to be a mouth amusing Sichuan Sauce. In Literally the Last Section we review the film A Knight’s Tale and how Helgeland wove the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer and the Arthurian Legends into the plot.
Hello, and welcome to Frenzied and Sustained.
We talk about Frenzied and Sustained being a podcast for a post stupid society so whilst we may not represent a major battle in the war on ignorance, we will certainly slap its face and run away
This week’s Brainy Lecture looks for mass and finds it in the most surprising place. In Songs under the Microscope we examine, probably in more depth than the song warrants, Nanci Griffiths response to a setback in her 1993 hit Tecumseh Valley. Unlike every other podcast we are in colour, and the colour this week is Bastard Amber so point your browsers at Pantone 148C and watch it bathe you in a golden sunset. Our section that goes by many names including A Greyer Tampon and Mangy Port Area considers the Anagram form of the poem Fi by pudgy rail drink. If you cannot work out this poem’s anagram then perhaps you are in the wrong place. Grab your Sichuan peppers as a Sauce a Sauce My Kingdom for a Sauce is going to be a zinging Sichaun Sauce. In Literally the Last Section we review the film A Knight’s Tale and how Helgeland wove the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer and the Arthurian Legends into the plot.
You are listening to Frenzied and Sustained, I am Ian Spector and this is a
The newspapers rejoiced in 2012 that the Higgs Boson has been found and that it was the source of all mass.
Exciting, but also false.
The Higgs discovery was a monumental moment in physics and a crucial discovery and it is also true that the Higgs boson gives mass to fundamental subatomic particles.
The trouble is that if you added up all the mass of an average supermodel that came from the Higgs Boson they would weigh just 1kg, and they are just fine with that.
But to me the source of the missing mass is even more fascinating to me than the Higgs.
First let’s consider the atoms, they consist of protons and neutrons in a nucleus and surrounded by a haze of electrons zipping around at a great distance.
The electrons weigh only 0.05% or there protons and the neutrons so clearly they are not the mass maskers.
So it seems sensible that the mass is coming from the nucleus. But to find out where exactly we need to peel a further layer off the onion.
The neutrons and protons each contain three quarks. It is just after noon on Thursday and no one has yet managed to detect anything within the quark. Whilst I would love to believe that I suspect my grandchildren listening to this (as I am sure that they will, regularly) will find that terribly quaint, as they count quibbles and anti-quibbles flying out of their quarks.
So is that the answer? The mass comes from the Quarks? This is where we find the anomaly, when we actually add up the mass of the quarks it comes to only 1 or 2% of the overall mass. This is largely the explanation why so many supermodels are such fans of sub-atomic physics.
So where is the other 98%? To understand that, we need to go all David Attenborough and consider the quarks in their natural habitat. If you could magnify the quarks you would see three hyperactive objects furiously orbiting around each other in a sphere with a radius of 10 to the -15 meters. Significantly, there is nothing slothful about these quarks; they are moving at nearly the speed of light, almost 300,000 kilometres per second, that is almost fast enough to orbit the earth eight times in a single second. Objects moving that fast have a lot of kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. In addition, if something is moving that fast in such a tiny volume, there have to be some seriously big forces holding the nucleon together. Therefore, huge forces have to exist in the nucleon and whenever you have huge forces, you have a lot of binding energy in the form of potential energy. So this is the first important point, quarks inside nucleons have a very small mass but a huge amount of kinetic and potential energy. They are literally frenzied and sustained. Now we know from Einstein that energy and mass are effectively the same from E = m c squared where E stands for energy, m stands for mass and c for the speed of light. And there is the answer. It turns out that most of the mass we feel comes from the energy and not stuff.
Now as you will recall from Episode 7 all quarks are not created equal. Let us remind ourselves.
So quarks come in red, green and blue. This is why we refer to the mechanism by which quarks interact is called quantum chromo dynamics. But as they are much, much smaller than the wavelength of visible light, they are not actually coloured, but it is a useful analogy that helps us think about how they interact and the particles that they can make up. The rules are pretty simple. In order for a particle to exist, it must be colourless or white. You can make white by combining three quarks with one red, blue and a green. Or you can have a quark anti-quark pair such as green and magenta.
Let us now consider the world that these quarks exist in. They live in an undulating landscape called the gluon field. So even in the nothingness between the quarks there is a lively nightlife going on. Fluctuations in the gluon field keep happening. If you imagine the sea seen from space it looks pretty flat and even, but up close you can see the little ripples and wavelets. This is what the gluon field is like. To get rid of these fluctuations requires energy, imagine a quantum game of whack a mole.
The existence of quarks actually suppresses the gluon fluctuations and creates what is called a flux tube, an area where there is really nothing in the vacuum and that is in between this quark and the anti quark. And that pairs them up and creates what is called a meson, the quark, anti quark pair.
The more you try and separate the two quarks the longer the flux tube between them becomes, but there is a limit and what happens is curious, you can never get a single quark but eventually you end up with a new quark anti-quark pair being created.
If we want to construct a proton we are going to need an up quark, another up quark and a down quark.
These are linked with a Y shaped flux tube in the gluon field. The energy in the proton is the energy being needed to supress the gluon field to form the vacuum.
If that was not weird enough then you have additional quark - anti quark pairs popping into and out of existence. As long as there is always an odd number you might have 5, 7, 9 or more quarks making up the proton.
But your mass that you feel to all intents and purposes comes from the fact that there are these energy fluctuations in the gluon field and the quarks are interacting with those gluons.
So that brings us back to the Higgs field and the Higgs boson. How does that fit in? Well the Higgs field does give mass to the quarks themselves, just a very small amount. It also gives some mass to the electrons. If it did not then electrons would have no mass which means that they would travel at the speed of light, so you would have to give up on chemistry, life and everything. But the vast majority of mass comes from energy.
But supermodels are not entirely incorrect as giving their mass as 1Kg.
Songs Under the Microscope
We need to talk about Nanci Griffiths.
In particular we are considering Nanci Griffith’s ill advised trip to Tecumseh Valley. Clearly her family was having some financial difficulties as there was not much coal in the mine. Honestly, Nanci is always blaming the earth for her problems. In fact, we could probably have a what is Nanci Griffiths moaning about today top ten (spoiler alert, it is usually the weather)
Starting us off at number ten and setting the tone for the entire canon is “Trouble in the Field”
By the time we get to number 9 Nanci’ has already concluded that “It’s A Hard Life Wherever You Go”
From a hard life to a hard landing at number 8 with Aviation based disaster in 1998’s single Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) where a DC3’s leaking fuel pump seal on the left hand engine caused a fire that melted the left wing spar causing the wing to come off in flight.
New Entry straight into the charts at number 7 where Nanci (with an “I”) says that “I wish it would rain”
At number 6 she regrets her wishes where she is now Up against the rain
This obviously leads us to Storms at number 5 where “she wants to be blown by his wind and wonders if he will rain on her”. No doubt the next album contains, although I did to verify this, Trouble with the Pee Tapes
I’ll have what he’s having at 4 where she is Comin' Down In The Rain
More uncontrolled aquatic emissions at number 3 where there are “drops from the faucet”
At number 2 Nanci is Shaking out the snow whilst moaning that she can’t clear her passage (maybe try drinking some of all the water that is coming your way)
And so it is not that surprising we discover at number 1 that “Hell no, I'm not alright”
Back to Tecumseh Valley. Times were hard in the Griffiths household so Nanci goes off to Tecumseh Valley. Things were hard but Nanci got a job in the entertainment sector by tending bar in Gypsy Sally’s. I assume her lugubrious songs about matters meteorological raised her candidacy above the other applicants.
She earned enough money not only to support herself but also got enough for her fare back home. So financially she was doing well and now spring replaced winter but word came down that her a had died.
And this is where the song makes a violent turn. Does Nanci go home to there funeral, she probably had built up some vay cay time from gypsy Sally’s. No. In the very next line she turned to whoring out on the streets. At literally the first setback.
Let me read you the lyrics
She saved enough to get back home
When spring replaced the winter
But her dreams were denied
Her pa had died
The word come down from Spencer
So she turned to whorin' out on the streets
With all the lust inside her
And it was many a man
To lay himself beside her
Can I also point out, in my research it turns out that Spencer is only 29.1 miles from Tecumseh Valley. Nanci could have walked it in a day. Even if she took I40 to 177 West of Shawnee it is 37.8 miles. She would not try her hand at hitchhiking to save the fare (that she had literally saved) but when prostitution was offered she said “I’m all in”. It just baffles me, she still had a job, she had held it all winter, Gypsy Sally was also providing accommodation. Where was the imperative. It was spring, it is coming into Gypsy Sally’s busy season. And she now had bar experience, Tecumseh valley is literally a suburb of Oklahoma City. She is only five miles from Tinker Air Force Base, go and play your guitar for them. They would appreciate your aviation disaster based catalog . Instead of I40 if you took 62 to Harrah you could have easily got a job at Kickapoo Casino. You could have also worked at the Black Hawk Casino in Shawnee, but then I would not have got to say Kickapoo (got to catch em all). All Oklahoma City Airport flight school students do their cross country to Shawnee airfield KSNL. It is just a ten minute flight and they even have an ILS so you can get in in most weather conditions. Nanci, you have got 1800m of high quality tarmac on runways 17-35, just position for a long final and make your calls on the Unicom on 122.7. But no, on balance it is better if you turn to whoring. It just does not seem that she was in any way forced into this. It seemed to be a lifestyle choice. Nanci Griffith released fifteen albums, sold over two million records, and won a Grammy. Her songs have been covered by dozens of other musicians, and her peers line up to play on her records. She is recognised as a pioneer singer-songwriter who broke ground for artists like Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, and Robert Earl Keen. She is about as big as a folk star can be. Yet her response to her father’s death was to ‘turn to whoring down on the street’ This is just the same we had with Fantine in Les Miserables back in Episode 2. At least Nanci had the good sense not to sell her teeth and hair before becoming a prostitute. And this certainly showed in her feedback was we learn that “it was many a man returned again to lay himself beside her”. It would be interesting to know how Nanci would have coped with other setbacks in life. Let’s test this, “I am sorry, the 6:54 to Spencer has been cancelled, you can wait for the 7:54 or take the bus replacement service. Nah, I’ll turn to whoring. Good evening Miss Griffith, there are a couple of changes to tonight’s menu , we don’t have the risotto and instead of halibut we have hake. No, forget it, I’m off whoring.
Anyway, does she pull herself together and get her life back on track? No, they found her dead beneath Gypsy Sally’s steps with a note that cried fare thee well Tecumseh Valley. So she killed herself. Where did that come from. The girl won a Grammy yet at one setback, and let’s face it her father was never going to live forever, she turns to whoring and going by her Yelp reviews was successful at it but then she kills herself. Did she catch AIDS, or a glimpse of her self in the Window of Bamboo Garden on North Broadway. I guess that when you sang It’s a hard life and Hell no I’m not alright I should have listened.
Parents, are you at your Witts’ end trying to get your children to pick their clothes up from the floor, do they just ignore the wardrobe and scatter their clothes both hither and thither? Introducing new Floordrobe. Floordrobe is a dedicated area of the floor used for vertically filing clothes. No need to find hangars with new stacking technology. Simply mark out the area with a white chalk and clothes can then be placed inside the delineated floordrobe zone. No need to sort clothes into separate sections, with floordrobe your shirts can coexists all hugger mugger with your knickers and your socks can get intimate with your shoes. Exhausted at the end of the day see if you can sink a five metre trouser dunk as you fall into your Siberian Goose Down Duvet. Floordrobe, from the company that brought you chairdrobe.
A Sauce a sauce my Kingdom for a sauce - Sichuan Sauce
Please do take the time to get some Sichuan pepper, it has a cooling, almost fizzing effect on the mouth. It is a most singular ingredient. And the Uncontacted Arrow people in the Brazilian Amazon need not worry this week, as you can literally by kilo bags of Sichuan pepper on Amazon.
I gently heat the Sichuan peppercorns (that are actually the fruit of an ash tree) in a dry frying pan for a few seconds until they become aromatic. Grind them in a pestle and mortar then mix all the other ingredients together except the dried peppers. Whisk everything together. Choose your favourites dried chillies, grind them up and add them to provide the required heat.
And now in colour
The colour of this week’s podcast is Pantone 148C known in the theatre as Bastard Amber. It is a lovely warm creamy orange with the subtle hue of magenta. In theatrical productions the bastard colours are where you gel up a spotlight to one colour and add a little of its complement. Thus we get orange with a touch of purple. In theatres it really enhances skin tones. In my signature lighting scheme I use bastard amber next to magenta, often in repeating sequences of the two. What? Some of you don’t have signature lighting schemes? Please, we are not animals.
Originated from David Belasco’s electrician at the time — Louis Hartmann. The tale is that he was describing and looking for a piece of almost salmon coloured amber colour filter, and out of frustration said “that bastard amber”. Somehow, Rosco used it as the name of that colour filter, and it has been one of the best selling colour filters of Rosco over the years.
Whether it is a theatre production, film shoot, photography shoot or any type of production, you can find that colour filters are being used. Colour filters are also known as colour gel or often referred to as just gel. They are typically used in front of a light source to filter out unwanted wavelengths (colours) in order to achieve the colour desired.
The concept of filtering light had been established since the days of only candle light. In the late 16th century, candles were the source of illumination for English Renaissance theatre; and red wine or coloured water in glass containers were used as colour filters. In the 18th century, gelatin was commercially developed. It became the material of choice for colour filters, hence the name gel which is still referred to in the present day.
In the 1950s, gels were made with acetate based materials, which was suppose to be more tolerant to heat. However the acetate based gels could not withstand the heat from tungsten halogen lamps, which became widely popular around that time.
Because of the development of tungsten halogen lamps, acetate based gels were quickly replaced by polyester based gels in the late 1960s. Polyester had a much higher heat tolerance compared to acetate, which allows for a longer life cycle. Considering that fact that these gels are meant to be placed in front of lights that can easily get up to 200°C, the higher the resistance the better.
Gels nowadays are primarily made with polyester based materials, however there are still differences on how the colours are applied to the gels. Colour manufactures such as LEE Filters and Apollo Design uses a method that coats colours on the surface of the polyester, where as Rosco uses a method that body-colours or deep-dyes the polyester. To this day, the GAM Colour line at Rosco are still 100% deep-dyed. Some believe that body-coloured or deep-dyed polyester gels are more colour consistent, less prone to scratches, tear, puncture and heat.
And now the moment poets from all over the world go crazy, the section that we call Gay Tromp Arena. And this week’s poem under anagrammatical pressure is If By Rudyard Kipling
Here we go
Fi by pudgy rail drink
Urine Faced Yak You Walnut Lube Hope Yahoo
Retiring Asshole not Audibly Moaning
Ace Stiffly On Tour Usury Bellowed a Mouthy Nun
Low Tuba Enema Lack Hit Or Tour bed footing
Unabated Norway Tit Fiction Baying Wide
Bauble Rood Ignite dandelion tiles
He banged toothy trio twinged vagina
a kilo snot tower ontology nook, dad tooted
Literally the last section
A Knights Tale is a gloriously conceived film that is essentially a remake of Rocky with jousting. It is also an intentionally hilariously anachronistic film that plots the rise of William Thatcher (played by the late Heath Ledger) supported by fellow squires Roland (Mark Addy), and Wat Valhurst (Alan “leaf in the wind” Tudyk).
The three young fellows are squires to Sir Ector, and they’re in a bind. Sir Ector has been competing in a minor jousting tournament, and he’s been doing quite well: he only needs to ride once more without being unhorsed, and he’ll win. He’ll get winnings, and his squires will get their first meal in three days.
The only problem, as the young chumps have just discovered, is that Sir Ector has quietly, and inconveniently died.
Wat: What do you mean, dead?
Roland: The spark of his life is smothered in shite. His spirit is gone but his stench remains. Does that answer your question?
In this efficient exchange we see the personalities of all three of these squires. Roland is the oldest, most experienced, and most sensible. When he sees that Ector is dead, his immediate response is to think about fetching a priest. Wat isn’t of the same mind. His reaction is to “rouse” the dead knight by kicking and beating him, taking out his frustrations in the most physical manner possible. And then there’s William, who is a deft middle ground of passions and practicality. Heath Ledger gives him a perfect balance of personality: he’s hungry, he’s angry, but he’s also resourceful and pragmatically idealistic. If he puts on Sir Ector’s armor, he muses, no one will know he’s not a noble. They can get the money, they can eat, and they can deal with the dead man later. It’s not like Ector is going anywhere, after all.
William: I’ve waited my whole life for this moment.
Wat: “You’ve waited your whole life for Sir Ector to shite himself to death?”
The scene now shifts to opening credits that unfold over scenes of the tournament and its crowd … all set to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
A lot of critics were thrown at this point: they complained that using a soundtrack of classic rock for a movie that is set in the 1370s is tremendously anachronistic. What director Helgeland is trying to depict is the spirit of the joust, the carnival atmosphere, the sense of occasion. I think that Helgeland knew that Freddy Mercury was not alive in the 1370s. This is not the same as the unintentional anachronisms such as in Act 2 Scene 1 of Julius Caesar after the stage directions say “Apple Watch strikes,” Brutus tells Cassius to “count the Apple Watch,” and Cassius says it “has stricken three.” But of course he would have said it hath struck three. Thus the anachronism.
To amplify the device we find that Queen isn’t just the background soundtrack for the audience: it’s what the tournament crowd itself is singing. And they’re singing it while doing the wave, eating turkey legs, and waving banners in support of one knight or another.
From a post-modern perspective, this film challenges the ideas of a medieval past as being so very different from the present. Spectators singing a rock ballad by Queen at a medieval joust conveys the enthusiasm and pageantry of such events to a modern audience more successfully than an authentic tune would have done. A Geoffrey Chaucer — thin, energetic and young — who composes caustic and humorous rhyme, while not the Geoffrey found in the Ellesmere manuscript, certainly conveys the poet’s style in a modern sense.
This film conveys the emotional historical reality and not the actual factual.
A Knight’s Tale uses these twin presentations of truth later in the film, when William — now jousting in disguise as Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein — goes to a dance. The dance begins by being truthful to historical reality: medieval instruments making simple sounds as the dancers go through formalised movements. It all seems quite stilted and unexciting to us now, but such a dance would have been completely mental in the fourteenth century.
Helgeland has the musicians seamlessly slip their lute-strumming into a familiar tune that evolves into David Bowie’s “Golden Years” … at the very same time that the dancers devolve their formalised organisation into the chaos and choreography of a modern dance floor.
Ulrich von Lichtenstein was a real knight (though dead for about 100 years by the time of the movie’s action. From age 12 on, Ulrich received noble training as a page to a lady of much higher station than he then another four years as a squire to Margrave Henry of Istria, son of Duke Berthold IV of Merania, he was knighted by the Babenberg duke Leopold VI of Austria in 1222. Ulrich became a provincial judge is 1272.
The film splices the inspiration of this idea with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (thus Simon the Summoner and Peter the Pardoner) and legends of the life of William Marshall with a subplot involving the Free Companies via Adhemar, count of Anjou (Rufus Sewell) and his squire Germaine (Scott Handy). William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke was an Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman. He served five English kings—Henry II, his sons the "Young King" Henry, Richard I, John, and John's son Henry III.
Knighted in 1166, he spent his younger years as a knight errant and a successful tournament competitor; Stephen Langton eulogised him as the "best knight that ever lived." In 1189, he became the de facto Earl of Pembroke through his marriage to Isabel de Clare, though the title of Earl would not be officially granted until 1199 during the second creation of the Pembroke Earldom. In 1216, he was appointed protector for the nine-year-old Henry III, and regent of the kingdom.
And oh yes, Chaucer is literally a character in this film. Played by Paul Bettany, he is a key figure
Roland: Who are you?
Chaucer: Chaucer? Geoffrey Chaucer, the writer?
Wat: A what?
Chaucer: A wha- a what? A writer. You know, I write, with ink and parchment. For a penny, I’ll scribble you anything you want. From summons, decrees, edicts, warrants, patents of nobility. I’ve even been know to jot down a poem or two, if the muse descends. You’ve probably read my book? The Book of the Duchess?
[They look at each other, shake their heads]
Chaucer: Fine. Well, it was allegorical.
Roland: Well, we won’t hold that against you, that’s for every man to decide for himself.
This movie has my favourite montage. It features joust training to the tune of “Low Rider.” Now I am a connoisseur of montages, frankly it is baffling to me why they are not used more widely in education. Imagine you could teach a classroom of children French, Fencing or Flower Arranging in four minutes to a killer soundtrack. Oooh, I know what we haven’t had in a while, a top ten. Let’s have a top ten film montages.
Kicking us off at number 10 is The Karate Kid from 1984 where we see the final tournament with Daniel-san meeting out pain, lots of pain to Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best.
Next up at number 9 is 1987’s Dirty Dancing where the dancing montage features the classic “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen. Follow Jennifer Grey’s progress as Baby as she is taught to dance in three minutes by Patrick Swayze.
Straight in at number 6 for 1972’s The Godfather where the montage shows the great contrast between the life Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) wants to lead and the life he is fated to lead. During the christening of his nephew (whom he will be godfather to), Michael supposedly renounces evil. However, simultaneously in multiple sites across the city, he has also orchestrated calculated hits against rival captains. Francis Ford Coppola perfectly balances these scenes by contrasting the image of a sweet, innocent child with violent men and bloody corpses.
More rapid dance improvement at number 5 care of Footloose from 1984 where Ren (Kevin Bacon) is trying to teach Willard (Christopher Penn) how to dance which would have been impossible without “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams.
The only Rocky movie in the charts is at number 4 with 1985’s Rocky IV and its training montage. If that is your thing then watch Sylvester Stallone’s muscles ripple in time with John Cafferty’s “Heart On Fire.”
Number 3 is is Whiplash and the final Caravan scene where Fletcher slowly puts aside his resentment for Andrew and becomes invested in his success.
Number 2 is a new entry for Paul Thomas Anderson the montage of Sydney Barringer’s unsuccessful suicide from the magnificent Magnolia. Here instead of a linear perspective, the montage traverses the incident several times, each time revealing a different part of it that creates the final and complex image that the film attempts to create through the fragmentation of space and time.
And we know at number 1 is Will Thatcher, sorry Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein, training to joust. It is the only montage that does not show a linear improvement ([Wat] "I think he's getting worse." [Roland] "He is getting worse.”)
I really ought to have made this a top twenty as I have had to omit some real classics, including the bone montage from Kubrick’s 2001 where the ape throws a bone up in the air and a mere twenty minutes later the apes have launched a satellite around the earth. See the power of montages? They taught apes to build and launch into space a satellite. Now you say, so what, it’s not rocket science, but I am not actually sure.
And how could I not make space for the married montage in UP? The sequence in which we see the married life of Carl and Ellie in less than five minutes is one of the most touching scenes in film history, I will tell you how, I had already written The Karate Kid and Footloose and I don’t like throwing stuff out.
What about the end of Johnny Darko with collapsing timeline that ties all the plots together to make sense.
Or all the Bill Murray’s suicides in Groundhog Day
And of course there is Cinema Paradiso's final Kissing montage. At one level, it's a marvellously nostalgic look at love on screen in all its different shapes and sizes but in terms of its place in the narrative it is a love letter and redemption It's a meta-analysis of the power of cinema, romancing us as it
examines romance in a wonderfully intense sequence of passion and love.
Then we have Spike Lee, the 25th Hour montage represents the universal and the profoundly personal as it traces Ed Norton’s rage from racism to fear.
I cannot believe that I missed out Lord of War’s life of a bullet montage, oh, and the montage from American Beauty when Kevin Spacey has been shot in the head and is talking about the concept of life flashing in front of your eyes.
Anyway, I love montages. As we have seen, they can be used to train people, as we have here, and by here I mean whatever we were discussing ten minutes ago before I got distracted by montages. They can be used to break up time sequences, tell jokes. A good montage can also take a half dozen different storylines and
weave them together, much more thematically complex than they might have been separately, like the example at number 2 in Magnolia. I have just thought of so much of Team America World Police as that had some great montages. And now `I think of it we have missed the montage king Wess Anderson so we need to add Rushmore to our chart.
Anyway, it seems I have just gone all Inception on you and created a montage montage; lets grab our totems and revenons a nos moutons.
The enigmatic love interest is the character Jocelyn, played by Shannyn Sossamon. Her character is not what you might call finely etched, we know she likes poetry, weird hats and has a loyal lady in waiting. In one scene when the two of them are alone and talking to each other, it's about Will and Count Adhemar. So not exactly a passing grade of the Bechdel Test.
Sossamon has a quality of acting that does not look like acting and that brings several genuine moments such as "Do not shush me and spare him, now be gone! Go!" And this one.
[Adhemar] "I myself, Jocelyn, have never been unhorsed."
[Jocelyn] "Nor have I."
Or this one, which Sossamon came up with herself when offered a ring to kiss in deference she grabs the hand and says of the ring "Oh that is lovely!"
There was an incongruous part where Will and Jocelyn have had a fight she pulls no punches in showing you how childish Will is being right now.
[Will] "You're just a silly girl, aren't you?"
a woman who likes girly things like nice dresses and stuff.
[Jocelyn] "A flower is only as good as its petals."
"Better a silly girl with a flower than a silly boy with a horse and a stick."
Because Jocelyn wants him to really prove his love she says that "Losing is a much keener test of your love.”, "Losing would contradict your self-love and losing would show your obedience to your lover and not to yourself!"
The next day at the tournament, we get this.
[Roland] "What are you doing?"
[Roland] "I don't understand."
[Will] "Neither do I."
But there is a whole hurting montage and Will is really seriously hurt as Jocelyn watches, pleased that he really loves her.
Why did she let this montage go on so long. This scene is actually taken from Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart the 12th-century Old French poem by Chrétien de Troyes, It is one of the first stories of the Arthurian legend to feature Lancelot as a prominent character. The narrative tells about the abduction of Queen Guinevere, and is the first text to feature the love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere.
The book begins with Guinevere being abducted by Meleagant, Arthur allows Gawain to pursue them. While Gawain is searching for the pair, he runs into the (then unnamed) Lancelot who, after riding his horse to death, convinces Gawain to lend him a horse in pursuit of the queen. Lancelot then speeds after Guinevere. When Gawain catches up to him, Lancelot has worn out his new horse to death just as he did his previous one. For the love of all that is holy will people stop lending this maniac horses. Lancelot encounters a cart-driving dwarf, who says he will tell Lancelot where Guinevere and her captor went if Lancelot agrees to ride in his cart. Lancelot boards the cart reluctantly as this is a dishonourable form of transport for a knight. Amazingly, this horse survived. When Lancelot fights in a tournament, Guinevere asks him to lose in order to prove his love. He obliges, but when he begins to intentionally throw the battle, Guinevere changes her mind, now instructing him to win instead. Lancelot complies and beats the other tournament competitors. But at least in this version Lancelot does not have to endure a whole montage of lances piercing his body, a fact that legions of horses no doubt still lament.
More self-referential references in the title as A Knight’s Tale was one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales. The Knight’s Tale is a romance that the ideals of courtly love: Again we find lovers risking death to impress his lady, and he is inspired to utter eloquent poetic complaints. The tale is set in mythological Greece, but Chaucer’s primary source for it is Boccaccio’s Teseida, an Italian poem written about thirty years before The Canterbury Tales. As was typical of medieval and Renaissance romances, ancient Greece is imagined as quite similar to feudal Europe, with knights and dukes instead of heroes, and various other medieval features.
So we have Rocky with sticks, set to Bachmann Turner overdrive, Queen and David Bowie. We have excellent acting performances.
And a jousting match set to Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
The lessons in the film were that success and happiness have a portion of luck and some skill, but more importantly, it takes friends. It was Jocelyn, and his dad, and the Black Prince, and even Sir Ector taught him a few things before "The spark of his life got smothered in shite."
Will couldn't have done this alone. Not without Roland and Wat helping him train. Not without Kate making his armour. Not without Chaucer forging his patents of nobility. It all adds up to a victory born of love and friendship,
It grossed $118 million at the Box Office with a budget of $26 million. The film was also nominated for Best Kiss, losing to American Pie 2. Remember mediocrity only sees mediocrity. It takes real genius to spot talent. Rotten Tomatoes gave this 59%. I give it a perfect 100.
And that is the end of Literally the Last section. It is also the end of this week’s podcast. We will be off for the next couple of weeks but do take the opportunity to check out the episodes that you have missed. If you enjoy this podcast then please post it on social media, let’s try and and reduce the mumber of saucless people in the world, let’s travel the world in generic jeans, let us contemplate the multiverse as we try and inflict a small flesh wound on the leg of ignorance together.
Say what you like about pacifists….