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from Chaucer to Lord Melbourne

Posted at 10:56 on 11 Mar 2009 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: films and TV, funny, other pictures

There were many things I loved about the anachronistic medieval romp The Knight's Tale, and the use of stadium rock to create the atmosphere of a jousting tournament was only one of them. For a start, the cast was exceptionally well chosen. Heath Ledger, bless his soul, played an earnest, ambitious blond buffoon- not his most stimulating role - but Laura Fraser (best known as Door in Neverwhere) as a kick-ass blacksmith almost made up for the pointlessness of the female lead. Not to mention Alan Tudyk playing a daft squire who is almost (but not quite) called Wash, and James Purefoy as a sizzling Black Prince. But my favourite character and performance was Paul Bettany as the inspired, poverty-stricken, gambling-addicted, and often naked Geoffery Chaucer.

I've always found writers sexy. Bettany's Chaucer had passion, a crackling intensity and an undeniable way with words. He could play a crowd. (Tom isn't that flamboyant, but the skill and power with which he uses words is one of the things I love most about him.) Chaucer also had an underlying hint of sleaziness and unpredictability, the very slightest impression of being a little bit of a bastard. I doubt Bettany's Chaucer would be a particularly responsible Dom, but he has presence and power, and that's hellishly attractive.

Thanks to Valdor at the Spank Statement, I've just found out that Bettany is playing Lord Melbourne in the new film The Young Victoria. I love costume dramas and films about strong women, so I was already planning to see the film, but I hadn't realised quite how interesting Melbourne was. He was Prime Minister as Victoria came to power, and acted as her mentor. He was also a kinky bastard, with a taste for 'flagellation'. Here's a revealing line Valdor picked out of his autobiography:

"Spanking sessions with aristocratic ladies were harmless, not so the whippings administered to orphan girls taken into his household as objects of charity."

And he's played by the very same smouldering, silver-tongued Bettany.

Oh my.

The film tells the story of Victoria's self-empowerment, but I'll be interested to see what subtext Paul Bettany and Emily Blunt bring to their mentor/protegée relationship. Blunt's young queen is apparently entirely comfortable with her sexuality. And who could possibly resist Lord Melbourne's enormous weapon? I mean come on, look at that goofy grin. And that silly hat. Phwoar.


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