How have we not done Heath Ledger (1979-2008) yet? Okay, so since he’s passed away he isn’t currently doing any historical films, but this Australian actor did many in his short time and people LOVE him.
In the year 400 AD, a young Irish man (ledger) sets out to rid his land of the invading Romans, but in order to accomplish this, he must first unite the Celtic clans. Or create a Burning Man camp? You decide!
The Patriot (2000)
He played Mel Gibson’s son in this film about the American Revolution.
A Knight’s Tale (2001)
In allegedly 14th century England, Ledger plays an alleged peasant squire who poses as an alleged knight and allegedly competes in tournaments; he falls in love with an alleged noblewoman and takes down some alleged baddies.
The Four Feathers (2002)
One of many adaptations of a 1902 novel, about a British soldier who fights in the Sudan in 1884-85 and is accused of cowardice.
Ned Kelly (2003)
Ledger stars as the legendary Australian bandit who was active in the 1870s.
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
A fantasy-historical take on the famous folklore collectors. Ledger stars as one of the brothers in early 19th century Germany.
He plays the famous Venetian lover, who of course falls in love and wants to prove he can be true.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
Technically fantasy, Ledger plays the leader of a “traveling theatre troupe whose leader, having made a bet with the Devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations and present them with a choice between self-fulfilling enlightenment or gratifying ignorance,” per Wikipedia. Ledger died during filming and so his role is also played by several other actors.
Which is your favorite of Heath Ledger’s frock flick roles?
Saw Roar when it first came out. Despite so many cliches (Celtic LEATHER!), I enjoyed it very much and was disappointed when it ended so quickly. But it did get Mr. Ledger to the US to be Patrick Verona in “10 Things I Hate About You.” Yes, not a Frock Flick, but he had it going on. There’s something about a pretty boy who isn’t afraid to get down and dirty. Poor man, his end was so sad and terrible. A major talent gone.
As for The Patriot, I know the poor souls who were hired to be the cultural historians (advising on costume etc.) they were so naive that they didn’t realize until too late that the producers used their expertise to whitewash the actual story (Gibson’s character was a combo of Francis Marion and Thomas Sumpter, of whom modern historians don’t hero worship as historians did back in the day. Like, both were personally violent men and slave owners. The film had Gibson not owning slaves and his black work force getting wages.). Fortunately, that situation happens to every material culture person, so they still had good careers.
Did he pay his “servants” in The Patriot? I don’t remember him doing that in the movie, but I was mostly seething with rage at Jason Isaacs, so I wasn’t seeing any of that. I did notice he treated them well, and they seemed to like him (which is very unrealistic).
It wasn’t impossible that a man in pre revolutionary south Carolina would have anti slavery convictions but it was pretty damn improbable.
I once heard a talk from a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of American History who had the misfortune of being the Patriot’s historical advisor. He said the first draft for the script included no African Americans, enslaved or otherwise. What they wound up with was negotiated every step of the way because we can’t have Mel Gibson’s character looking bad (he handles that all by himself?).
The amount of time that I have spent in classrooms undoing that film’s assault on the American Revolution……
Was that Rex? Those poor, poor people. I can only hope SI was well paid, but I doubt it.
Oooh, is that Sebastian Roche in
Roar? Have you all ever done a MCM with him? I feel like he’s been in so many things (my favorite mildly historical role of his was as Moriarty in a Sherlock Holmes LARPing club on CSI in 2005).
The Patriotwas the first thing I ever saw Heath Ledger in. He was so dreamy and charming and good at his job … but I still have never been able to bring myself to watch
A Knight's Tale.
Yes, Sebastian Roche plays Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus’s side when he hung on the cross and was cursed with immortality. In the series, he is searching for the spear, reputedly in Roman Britain so he can destroy it and therefore die. I loved ROAR. Not historical, but fun. It ran during the summer in the US. That was my introduction to Heath Ledger.
So hard to choose, but my whole family fell in love with him in ‘A Knight’s Tale’. Many of the jousting ‘knights’ I know also loved it because the jousting was so real.
Casanova is my favourite Heath Frock Flick and I hated the assumed noble woman in A Knight’s Tale. Preferred Blacksmith Girl.
“We don’t need no wimmin!” is the twin sister of “Oh, darling, please don’t go out and risk your life on that battlefield/fighter plane/polar expedition/other dumb stuff guys do!”
Knight’s Tale is above reproach. It jumped the reproach shark in about 15 minutes and then about 27 buses. Thus I forgive it almost everything, in full knowledge that it is what it is. But it is SO GOOD!!!!
Watching a tournament crowd rock to Queen was enough for me to forget everything I knew about the middle ages and go with it.
For what it’s worth, Paul Bettany played Geoffrey Chaucer in “A Knight’s Tale.”
I liked The Patriot. That movie came out when I was still in my “I love America” phase, which ended with a certain event that happened in 2001. Heath’s character was wonderful, and I liked the cut of his figure in those revolutionary uniforms.
A Knight’s Tale is amazing. Whether it’s bad or not I never could tell, I was too distracted by Ledger and Paul Bettany (and random James Purefoy as the Black Prince)
I am personally ready to forgive all for the man candy 😁
Oh, God. Even though I was already in my 20s when A Knight’s Tale came out, I had a whole sexual awakening when James Purefoy showed up. In fact, I STILL have a sexual awakening every time he’s on screen!
Re Heath Ledger: So good, so talented, sooo good looking. I really liked him in A Knight’s Tale, The Patriot, and Casanova. I need to re-watch The Brother’s Grimm. I was too distracted by its oddities to get engaged with the storyline. Never seen Roar, but my God, does it just scream 90s!!!! In the picture from Ned Kelly, Naomi Watts looks like she just escaped from the set of Anne of Green Gables. And the picture of him from Casanova wearing sunglasses…that is the cover of an erotic book that I didn’t know I needed until now! What a talent. He is definitely missed. And was truly MCM worthy!!
I also liked the Patriot when it came out – and I imagine it’d still be an entertaining, decently made film. But the history was obviously quite one-sided and somewhat idealized (despite having the main character… glory in violence? chin scratch). I wanted to see Brothers Grimm but never got to it; seems like it’d be a fun streaming watch someday.
Is it just me or in Ned Kelly does it seem like he’s prefiguring a Hemsworth brother? Specifically Liam in that first image.
Did anybody ever figure out what the heck the Roar was?
The Roman’s never got to Ireland, lucky for them, making the whole premise nonsense. And of course there’s the leather.
You can forgive fantasy history films when they turn out well. Roar can be forgiven because it was well done and it was our introduction to the talent that became Heath Ledger. For me, head and shoulders above the rest, is Knight’s Tale. Heath Ledger, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany, James Purefoy, Rufus Sewell, and the music of Queen and Bowie…the best of everything!
I’m a little late to this one, but– I’m kind of shocked BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005) isn’t included!
Sure, it’s 20th century and admittedly not really interesting costume-wise, but it is technically a “period” film, covering 1963-1983– and with a good amount of the story within the cutoff frame for inclusion in this blog.
I’d think that the film’s social importance and general excellence would’ve at least gotten it a brief mention on the list.