Every Terrence Malick film ranked from Worst to Best

In anticipation of Terrence Malick’s Song to Song, I re-watched all of his films (with the exception of Voyage of Time, which I saw in theaters a year ago.) I have a tremendous amount of respect for Malick’s work, even if I have no idea what he is doing. While I’m not especially crazy about his later work, the man makes movies for himself first, and that commitment to self-indulgence gives him artist credibility. I doubt he will ever make another film that I will love, but he’s definitely capable.

 

9. Knight of Cups

Rating: 4.5/10

This movie sucks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr0YZzL8KCI

 

8. Song to Song

Rating 5/10

This probably deserves a lower rating as it is incredibly bad, but it is fun to watch. It is pure self-parody and its inclusion of Austin City Limits footage brings the film to “so bad it’s funny” territory. Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, and Matthew Fassbender are in on the joke this time around, which brings great camp performances. Their self-aware acting rivals the excellent Gina Gershon in Showgirls.

The best acting in the film is done by Patti Smith, and the worst by Lykke Li.

 

7. The New World

Rating: 5.5/10

What bothers me about this film is that instead of feeling like an almost three-hour epic, it feels like four different movies crammed into one. First, there is the contact between the English and the new world, which leads to John Smith becoming intertwined with Pocahontas and the natives, and the consequences of it. Second, there is Pocahontas’s exile and merge with the settlers. Third, there is her new relationship with John Rolfe, and fourth, there is Pocahontas in her “new world”, England.

The reason I say four different movies is because the editing in this film isn’t seamless. The film drops us in each sequence and has us sit around, getting comfortable in the film’s world, before abruptly jumping forward to the next “plot” point to further the overall arc. It feels forced and annoying. It makes me care less about the characters as the “story” goes on. What makes this more annoying is that the film is at first, both equally about Smith and Pocahontas, their relationship with each other and their respective “worlds.” About midway through, Smith is out of the film, and Pocahontas is the sole protagonist. She is a passive protagonist and makes no interesting decisions for the rest of the film. She goes with the flow as the equally uninteresting dictate her decisions.

The film lacks the emotion and passion of Malick’s previous films and settles for wooden talk as the camera moves around the characters. None of the emotion present in each character’s faces in the thin red line is present here. Most scenes have each of the actors just make blank faces. Malick starts to plagiarize himself as John Smith’s time with the natives could be seen as no different from when Witt went AWOL in the thin red line. They serve the same purpose and push the same idea. This also kinda makes this the second film in Malick’s Eat Pray Love trilogy, as Malick seems to love characters finding happiness in other cultures. The voice overs in this film are terrible by the way.  I pulled up the first quote voice over line I could find on IMDB.

Mother, where do you live? In the sky? The clouds? The sea? Show me your face. Give me a sign. We rise… we rise. Afraid of myself. A god, he seems to me. What else is life but being near you? Do they suspect? Oh, to be given to you. You to me. I will be faithful to you. True. Two no more. One. One. I am… I am.

Despite my reservations, there are interesting ideas executed well in this film. There is the contrast between Smith’s peace and joy among the tribe and the instant savagery he sees when he meets back up with his fellow men. Each character trying to adapt to what they find weird about the other’s culture is also neat. There might be a good television or miniseries in this film, if each story were given enough time to flow naturally, but instead the film comes off empty and fake. Malick is on his way to become the cheesy grandpa who tells kids, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

 

6. The Tree of Life

Rating: 6/10

This might be literally Malick’s most commercial film, if you split the movie up and make 200 different commercials. I loved this when I first saw it five years ago, but upon re-watching it, I slapped myself in the face. Then I took a poo. Then I showered, because I don’t feel comfortable with a post-poop ass in my moderately clean underwear.

So the film isn’t exactly 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Hell, the film truly deserves neither the intense praise it got nor the hate. It’s a pretty aight movie, even if I love to constantly make fun of it.

Okay, so here’s what works. First, the cinematography is flat out eye porn. It’s hard not to love the photography is every scene. Second, which is the main thing I loved, is the intimate family interactions. The little snippets of growing up in the small Texas town in the 1950s feel too real. When the father speaks to his kids, the dialogue is well acted and naturalistic. The stern father and the loving mother, and the distinction between how the kids respond to each of them emotionally is heartwarming. It’s also riveting when the film shows seemingly random moments in the children’s lives that shape their development. Life is just a bunch of little moments that for better or worse make us. Almost every character in this film is portrayed affectionately even when they are at their worst.

Now here’s what sucks. The scenes that take place in the future/present are phony. Sure, the beginning sets us up for a character death that still impacts the characters in the present, but the way it is done is silly. Are the ultra-modern looking Dallas skyscrapers to show the contrast between the nostalgia filtered past and the cold mechanical future? Should we give a shit? Next, the cosmic imagery interspersed in the film, regardless of what anyone says, brings down the movie. I know Malick’s childhood and family mean the universe to him, but this is an obnoxious way of showing that.  It doesn’t enhance the mood, unless nature porn is enough to blow everyone’s mind? If that’s your thing, fine. I won’t deny that the world looks awesome, but when you try to interpret symbolic truth/meaning in this, you’re just making an ass out of yourself. The film’s religious “spiritual” meandering sucks shit. This is the third film to have voiceovers saying, “Mother” followed by something a yuppie yoga instructor would say. Malick isn’t as stupid and sexy as Jim Morrison to get away with this kind of stuff.

I could also go on about the stupidity of the mom at the end of the movie saying something along the lines of “I give you my son” to the guy’s wife.

Oh and here’s a fun fact. Upon re-watching this, my Blu-ray player malfunctioned around the last couple of minutes of the movie. I had to restart it and jump back to the scene (for some reason the playback wouldn’t work). At the scene selection menu for the last scene, its fucking title is “Was it a dream?”

He’s not even trying anymore. This is the cookie-cutter art film stereotype and it’s good enough for him.

Will viewers choose the path of nature, accepting the daily crap that is force fed to them and pretending it’s great, or the path of grace, searching for and sucking the dick of every mild deviation and pretending its revolutionary?

Wrong.

Read a book.

 

5. Voyage of Time (A.K.A. Tree of Life Bloopers)

Rating: 6.3/10

I saw this movie at a zoo.

It smelled like shit and there were ladybugs on the projector.

There were about twenty people in the audience.

Fourteen of them had Down syndrome.

 

4. To The Wonder

Rating: 7/10 (Best of 21st Century Malick)

It amazes me how little Ben Affleck has to bring to this movie. He is especially terrible at playing someone doing nothing. Malick could not have picked a less charismatic actor to play his avatar.

Moving on, this might be both Malick’s most abstract film and his meanest. Like The Tree of Life, this film is also based on Malick’s own life experiences. The woman in this film, Marina, is based off his relationship with his ex-wife. Since Affleck just makes dumb faces while Marina does things, she is the focus of the film. By Malick casts himself out of the action, and having her as the center of the drama, he succeeds in making her character come across as both crazy and stupid. Her actions are on a whim and come across as incredibly childish. Knowing that this is Malick’s interpretation of being with this woman, by making her look this way but conveniently making his character a simple mime, he comes across like a judgmental asshole, revealing his take on her while hiding himself.  Marina has a child in this film, and they both act almost identical to each other.

She has a line in the film where she says, “weak people never end things. They wait for other people to do it for them.” Seeing as all of her decisions are a result of Malick’s character, who is the one to end their relationship, the narrative implies that she is weak. This point is supported through her progressive aimlessness.

What makes this film a bit refreshing is that Malick manages to show us the mundane and the ugly in this film. We see them go to a Hardees drive-through and it looks just like that. We see boring looking parts of Oklahoma and trashy looking kids and families. It’s not this beautiful glorified image, but itself. Through the priest played by Javier Bardem, we see a lot of ugly, sad people with serious problems. For once, everything isn’t beautiful.

The movie is abstract because it continues to jump forward randomly, giving the audience very little to work with. This forces the viewers to fill in the blanks throughout the whole movie. I can’t even call this ambiguity because this is beyond that. This is Malick at his most experimental.

There are pretty nature shots, but they are crazily reduced compared to all his other movies.

 

3. The Thin Red Line

Rating: 7/10

This is the transitional film that separates Malick’s early work from his later work.  This is the film that will satisfy both the 70s purists and those that love his 21st century “spiritual” phase.  What I think is remarkable about this film is how unimportant language is in it. I think a foreigner can watch this without subtitles and still understand the story, the tone, and the feeling of the film as long as they are visually literate. The soldiers don’t necessarily need to be American vs. the Japanese. This could be any war. It shows both the forced bond and unity, along with the cruel savagery of conflict. There are no good or bad guys, just people. Both groups fight each other for their cause, while the third group, the Melanesians, stand idly as the other two groups use their land as a battlefield.

With the exception of Witt, none of the characters’ names are memorable. Each character represents a different aspect of mankind: the hope, fear, sacrifice, struggle, anguish, anger, and love. The latter is a theme that Malick will never shut the fuck up about in some of his more heavy handed films. Seriously, I could have sworn the voice overs in this film were repeated to worse effect in his later movies. Anyways, Malick’s directing here prevents any of the characters from coming across as clichés.

This film begins and ends with Witt. It can almost be seen as his story, but it isn’t. The film doesn’t have a beginning or an end. The film drops us into the aftermath of Witt’s actions, seeing him at his happiest.  We only learn a little about one of the soldier’s lives before the war, but everyone else is a shadow of themselves along with their current circumstances.  While I don’t agree with all of Malick’s directing decisions, up to this point he has established not only a love of nature, but a love of humanity.

 

2. Badlands

Rating: 8/10

This is a fantastic directorial debut and possibly Malick’s most accessible film. One can see the first of what would become Malick’s trademark style: the voiceovers, the poetic storytelling, gorgeous cinematography, ambiguity, etc. Funny enough, this is still his most plot-centric film, and it’s just barely plot-driven compared to most Hollywood movies*. Kit and Holly play two sociopath lovers on the run from the law. The film doesn’t try to vilify them as monsters, nor give the audience a sympathetic insight into their behavior. They are who they are, and that’s that. The audience sees the world through their naïve, dreamlike eyes.

There are subtle hints towards the media’s glorification of crime, and giving rebels celebrity status. Kit takes pride in the fact that he resembles James Dean, even if he’s just an aimless trigger-happy garbage man. Holly hardly feels remorse for any of Kit’s actions and is content to go along for the ride. They both value attention and sudden purpose more than the world around them, giving each of their actions little to no thought. Each has a blue and orange sense of morality, but the film does a good job at not being preachy or judging them. At the end of the day, they are just people.

The music by Carl Orff is so perfectly used in this film that I can’t help but cringe when I hear the melody reused in various other movies and trailers.

 

*This was the 70s though, and Hollywood was taking a lot of risks during this period.

 

1. Days of Heaven

Rating: 9/10

For my money, this is Malick’s best film. Everyone is perfectly cast, especially Linda Manz, who has the face of the time period. Everything of the time period is exceptionally done. The photography is perfect, thanks to Malick’s obsession with the magic hour, as well as the great photography of Haskell Wexler who followed after Nestor Almendros’s lead. This might also be Malick’s most emotionally honest film. One thing that seperates Badlands and Days of Heaven from Malick’s later films is that the voiceovers in both films reveal insight into the psyche of the characters and their world, even if it’s not obviously related to the action around them. The newer films have too much pseudo-spiritual talk-out-of-assing.

The film doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh conditions of migrant work, but illustrates both the cruelty and lack of compassion of humanity, along with the little things that keep people moving. Pure cinema is when the young Linda tap dances with a black man as the workers are on break. The kid lives only in the moment. She is rich in experience, although uneducated, has character and a good head on her shoulders. She constantly reflects upon her feelings and random thoughts, as the film’s narrator.

Hell, the line, “I could be a mud doctor” is so damn perfect; I want to tear my hair out.

Richard Gere’s character, Bill, is motivated mostly by love (a theme that follows all of Malick’s work) for Abby (Brooke Adams). He is selfish, impulsive, and stupid at times, throwing away his meal for the day to fight with a stranger to defend his lover’s honor. Moments like this establish both his unrestrained behavior and his sacrificial nature, which will have him later push his woman to marry another man to give her a better life. While seemingly noble, Bill doesn’t consider the consequences.

Abby and the farmer (who Abby marries) are both tormented characters. Abby is conflicted by guilt of both lying to and in turn using the farmer to elevate her status, and betraying Bill, by giving herself to the farmer. Later, she ends up falling in love with the farmer, which only complicates her feelings. Abby depends on others, in which she chooses to act within the limited choices given to her. The farmer is alienated by his status. He is dumb and lonely, with little understanding of how the world works, and has only one friend. He is also terminally ill.

The film is a mood piece, as interestingly enough, Malick cut the majority of the dialogue scenes from the film, which is crazy as the film gets to the point without inconsistency. I would imagine the uncut film would feel like a bloated drama. To me, this work of visual poetry is his masterpiece.

Also, Leo Kottke’s guitar music is pretty cool.

Each of the Canterbury Tales Ranked from Worst to Best

canterburycath

Note: If you haven’t read the Canterbury Tales, there might be some context missing, so please read it. I also might spoil shit. Oh well. Hopefully readers of it, find this blog.

Introduction

I finished reading the unfinished Canterbury Tales a couple months ago. I thought it would fun to rank the tales and choose a winner, as the host in the book was never able to. I’ve ranked the stories from worst to best based on my own personal preference. I considered writing this whole thing in Middle English similar to “Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog,” but it would be too tedious for me. This will be written in my natural, sincere, and informal style. Anyways, enjoy. Tell me why I’m stupid in the comments.

24. The Parson’s Tale

What a shitty way to end a book. I had to google the full text because my edition had a summary instead. To feel like I truly completed the Canterbury Tales, I read the entirety of this boring ass penance. This isn’t even a tale and shouldn’t be treated as one. I take it Chaucer finishing the Canterbury Tales like this was a sign of the times. Seriously, read the actual bible instead. It makes sense why a summary was included instead of the text. It would be a waste of paper.

23. The Tale of Melibee

I had to google the full text of this one for the same reason as well. What ranks this above the Parson’s tale is the humor of it. I can’t say I enjoyed reading it, but the idea behind the joke is amusing. It’s pre-Tim and Eric, pre-Gordon Lish, pre-Andy Kaufman, pre-Monty Python, etc. After the host interrupts his story, Chaucer’s character retaliates by telling the most pointlessly dragged out Seinfeldian story. It predates the Wonder Showzen episode, “Patience.” The reader gets the joke a few minutes into it. But Chaucer continues on long after the joke stops being funny. I have always had a sense of admiration and respect towards those who are that committed to pissing people off and testing their patience for the sake of a lousy joke. The man and his wife argue about the moral, religious, and philosophical reaction to handling a violent break-in for what is the longest tale in the book. It’s anti-comedy at its finest.

22. The Monk’s Tale

This tale is technically several small tales. This is the equivalent of hearing a very dense conspiracy theorist talk about various moments in history and focusing on small insignificant detail they all have in common, which proves his entire worldview.

What makes Chaucer so brilliant is that by having various characters and multiple narratives, he gets to present many different points of view, while hiding what he specifically believes in. Bonus points for making his author avatar such a silly goofball.

Anyway, I think the Monk is meant to be annoying. The stories are boring, but are nowhere near as long as the two tales above.

21. The Clerk’s Tale

This story pissed me off. A man emotionally tortures his wife for many years to test her faithfulness and loyalty. He keeps knocking her up and having someone “kill” their children, while having someone secretly raise them somewhere else. Then he ditches her to marry another woman. When she remains loyal to him in spite of everything, he says, “Just kidding. I’m not marrying again. I love you. Oh and your children are still alive.” The moral of the story is that a loyal wife is a good wife or something like that. The prick of a husband faces no consequences for his actions. Not a very interesting story.

20. The Second Nun’s Tale

This is a boring generic religious tale about faith. The lady never gives up her faith or something like that. She spreads her faith and in a Joan of Arc fashion refuses to renounce her beliefs and continues to spread the word against the will of the rulers of the area. After reading many of the much better stories of the book, this one was just me waiting for something unpredictable to happen. It didn’t.

19. The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale

I vaguely even remember this one, which as it goes, makes me wish that I wrote this right after I read it. I think I read this one on a plane on the way back from San Francisco, so I didn’t have my notebook with me. There was this fat guy sitting next to me on the flight. He peered over and asked, “whatcha reading?” I showed him my book, after which he pompously bragged, “I prefer to read Classic books like Atlas Shrugged and Moby Dick.” I told him the book was from the 1300s, after which he pulled a wrapped hot dog from his pocket and stuffed it into his mouth.

18. The Tale of Sir Topaz

Again, I think it’s cute that Chaucer gives himself the dumbest stories to tell in the collection. The story is told in a very simplistic rhyming pattern. This one is about a knight that goes off on a fairy tale-like quest. He starts off looking for a sexy elf woman, and almost nothing happens in the story before it is interrupted by the host on account of the story being too stupid. This stylistic suck is better than the stories above.

17. The Summoner’s Tale

This one is an overelaborate joke, where someone blowing a fart on someone is the punchline. I retold this one in detail to a friend of mine, only for him to scratch his head. This is the Terrence and Philip of the middle ages. If this is your thing, enjoy? This is also a jab at people who knock on doors asking for religious donations.

16. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale

The way this story is told is a little strange. It is two fables in one. First, it’s a variation of “you knew damn well I was a snake (fox) before you took me in” and second, of “fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you.” The reason I say it’s a little strange is because there quite a few details we are told that seem irrelevant to the overall tale.

One, the protagonist is a cock (like literally a rooster), and he has seven wives. He loves one in particular, more than the others. He opens up to her about an issue he is having, only for her to emasculate him, telling him he is not a “real man.” This hardly motivates anything or adds a layer of purpose to anything in the story.

Second, he has a premonition warning him exactly what will happen in the tale. The next day when it comes true, he stupidly doesn’t even think about the premonition.

When the rooster triumphs in the end, it feels less satisfying, and more like a non-sequitur.

15. The Physician’s Tale

A man has a hot fourteen year-old daughter, who another man lusts after. The second man uses his legal power to fuck over the father, and legally become owner of the man’s daughter. The father, reasonably worried that his daughter will be raped by this man, chops her head off. The End.

14. The Manciple’s Tale

Now that I’ve pissed off everyone by talking shit about old tales through modern eyes, I can finally get to the stories I liked. I think this one is pretty fun. This one is the inverse of “don’t kill the messenger.” It’s more, “If you catch a man porking your friend’s hot wife, you don’t have to tell him.”

13. The Friar’s Tale

This tale was the friar’s jab at the summoner, casting the profession as a bunch of greedy thugs abusing their power, who hate people more than they love God. The protagonist has no qualms with teaming up with a demon from hell to suit his own motives. The tale is both a variation of “don’t deal with the devil” and “don’t be a dick.”

12. The Shipman’s Tale

I’m not sure I fully understand the context of this story. What I get is that the merchant’s wife in the story uses sex with people to get what she wants, the monk manipulates others to get what he wants (sex with the man’s wife), and the merchant doesn’t like spending money on his wife.

Is the merchant supposed to be more respectful to his wife? Or is the wife lying about her man to get money from the monk? I don’t know if I’m supposed to be happy or sad that the monk tricks her at the end. When the wife tells her husband with a wink at the end, “I can repay you in bed”, is that supposed to be a “funny” joke? Is the story trying to say the only power the woman has is her sexuality? Or is she just supposed to a bitch? Are her actions of true desperation? Why can’t the merchant and his wife just communicate better? I have no idea if the merchant cares about his wife or not.

There are many different character interpretations in this tale, which give it more edge above the rest for me. The only thing I am certain of is that the monk is a dick to both his friend and that woman. Maybe the tale’s goal is for the reader to smile as the sneaky trickster monk manipulates two people. The story doesn’t really end with him, though. The “I can repay you in bed” ending is so abrupt.

I’ve looked up analyses and interpretations of this tale and even though it explains the historical positions of each of these characters, it still leaves things a bit ambiguous for me.

11. The Pardoner’s Tale

This one is kinda funny. The plotting of this tale is very Coen Brothers-ish. It might not be the most original story by today’s standards, but I still won’t spoil any details because it might ruin the fun of it. Think Fargo.

10. The Merchant’s Tale

This is one of the more humorous cuckold stories in the book. An alternate title for this story could be The Gods Must Be Making It up as They Go Along.  The divine intervention in this makes me smile.

9. The Prioress’s Tale

Let me get out the way that this tale is anti-Semitic. The antagonists are evil Jews who celebrate the murder of gentile children. To be extra clear, these aren’t Jews who happen to be evil, the text strongly implies that they are evil because they are Jewish. If you mentally replace the word “Jewish” with “wicked”, as reading this tale, you can understand the context better without rolling your eyes at the six hundred year old racism.

Okay, so the tale is unexpectedly touching. A happy kid wanders off into the bad part of town. He gets murdered and dumped in an alley. God/the Virgin Mary causes a miracle to make sure everyone finds out about the boy’s death, to show that he was never truly abandoned and is never alone. I thought it was sweet.

8. The Man of Law’s Tale

What I liked about this one is that it was a longer story with various things happening, so the tale was fun to read, so as to see the direction the tale was going in. It doesn’t have the boring repetitive nature of some of the other tales such as the Clerk’s tale. Constance’s adventure takes her across the sea and back, meeting different people and getting into wacky shenanigans such as having her wedding crashed, becoming suddenly single, going on a luxury cruise, and applying for a job as a maid despite having no previous work experience. Constance teaches us meaning of faith and love as she gets mixed up with a few quirky bachelors as she searches for Mr. Right.

7. The Miller’s Tale

Chaucer really loves cuckoldry stories. I think it’s a major plot point in five of these stories and is mentioned regarding a minor character in a sixth story. Anyways, this is Chaucer’s most famous and most retold cuck story.

I watched the BBC modern retelling of this story and it made me cringe very hard. The main guy is supposed to be some badass who seduces a man’s wife by pretending to be a record producer. There is a scene where he makes a snappy comment only for Soft Cell’s tainted love to be played in the soundtrack. I’m American and I thought most American TV was crap, but after having seen some of the UK’s programming, the writers of The Big Bang Theory are starting to seem like geniuses.

Speaking of which, what is the appeal of Doctor Who? Whenever I ask my friend, who is a fan, about it, he says mundane things like “I fell for this show.” Nobody can give me any answers when I ask them about it.

If the guy can’t die, what are the stakes? The actors too seem to be aware of the show’s crappiness as none of them want to stay on the show. That’s how little faith the actors have in the character.

Also, why are the garbage cans evil? I jokingly asked some Doctor Who fans I’ve met, “What are the odds of Woody Allen playing the part of the next doctor?” They each got pissed and started violently screaming in my face. “HE’S NOT BRITISH!!! THE SHOW WOULD NEVER HAVE AN AMERICAN PLAY A BRITISH!!!” Things only got worse when I brought up Mr. Peabody.

Television definitely has to be the lowest art form, below poetry, comic books, webcomics, street performing, popular music, con art, the art of war, porn, and YouTube tutorials.

Hell, I think television commercials have more artistic value than television shows.

duchampfountain

Art

 

doctor who

Not Art

 

My point is if TV sucks and Doctor Who is one of the suckier TV shows, what does that make it? If there’s a word for that, please let me know.

Anyways, the miller’s tale is comical. I tend to like stories where most of the characters are jerks.

6. The Squire’s Tale

My love for this tale has a lot to do with my love for Shaggy dog stories. The story is seemingly aimless and meaningless, planting the seeds of what seems to be a long narrative. The story is all buildup to what will hopefully be a long fulfilling tale, only for some idiot to interrupt the storyteller saying, “wow! Great job! You are so smart! This is so good! Anyway, I have a better story.”

I love this almost as much as I love Sancho Panza’s tale of the goats in Don Quixote.

5. The Franklin’s Tale

The idiot interrupting the previous tale actually did end up having a better story to tell. It asks questions about morality, the importance of staying true to your word, considering the situation of others involved when making decisions, and to think before you speak.

4. The Cook’s Tale

Again, I really love shaggy dog stories. I can sum up this unfinished tale in one sentence. A black guy gets fired from his job for partying too much, so he moves in with his friend whose wife happens to be a prostitute. There is so much promise as to what can happen in this story even if it doesn’t deliver. I’m a sucker for ambiguity.

3. The Knight’s Tale

This is the first tale in the book, and if this tale didn’t capture my attention so well, having me turn the pages, I don’t know if I would have bothered reading the rest of the tales. There’s a lot of old fiction and poetry that is so medieval it’s boring. I’m looking at you, Spanish literature. This was pretty fun though. Maybe, I’m a simpleton, but both of the protagonists were almost on equal footing. Seeing them become rivals made me curious as to how their arc would resolve. The ending was a little disappointing, because it feels like Chaucer just had to have an ending, but the journey up to that point is great. This is the perfect tale to start off one’s reading of the Canterbury Tales.

2. The Reeve’s Tale

I shouldn’t have found this one as funny as I did. It serves as a good reminder of how specifically to get even with someone.

1. The Wife of Bath’s Tale

I’m going to ignore the wacky stuff the wife of bath says before the tale and focus on the tale itself. This tale is probably a great example of early feministic themes. A rapist learns a lesson in empathy and respect. While the shrug of the resolution gives the story a Hollywood ending, the man is forced to spend a year trying to learn from his mistake. He’s sent on a quest to find what women want most and must report it in one year’s time. If he fails to find out what women want most, he is to be executed. It’s funny because when he specifically asks various people, they each say contradicting things, only adding to his confusion. This tale had something more interesting to say compared to everyone else’s and especially looks progressive when you consider the time period this was written. Whether Chaucer actually held these beliefs or not is a different story. It’s still interesting for this perspective to have been told.

I think this is the best tale in the bunch, but the host in the story might have thought differently, considering his crappy taste.