To speed the journey. each of you will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury
and another two on the way back.
That's Harry Bailey. the innkeeper.
Who'll kick us off with a story? Er...
I was the best wife from Denmark to India and back.
Sir knight? Draw. if you will.
If I was Pope. I'd let all you shave-heads marry.
If you don't like it. boil your bum!
Who'll tell the next story? Let's get to Canterbury.
(CHAUCER) Canterbury. shrine of the martyr.
(kNIGHT) Come on. We've got to get on with our stories.
(MONKS SOFTLY SING)
(NOISY SHOUTING AND MUSIC)
There isn't a door he can't heave off its hinges!
This one hasn't lost a fight in years.
Come here. you big hairy brute! I'll have you.
Gawd bless our Sancty Thomas!
They come from every part of England to seek out the revered martyr. Thomas Becket.
To praise him and thank him for his succour in times of need.
And to enjoy themselves.
Aagh! You blundering...! Good. kind sir.
A squire. Courteous. unassuming. always "At your service".
It's the sea captain. He's in agony with his molars.
So. you married men. use manly muscles to make wives meek
and have them humbly homage their hus... Ooh!
That would be news to announce. you nerdy Noah.
Why do you men always let this lead you along. eh?
Then you lock away the keys to the money box.
Well. you lock yours away. I'll lock mine away.
(CHAUCER) He's a master carpenter and steward of a big estate.
There isn't a plough boy or swineherd whose fiddles he doesn't know.
She complains. but it's the husband that shells out for the wife's fancies.
Lords. ladies. too much of the day's gone.
Yes. Rather. Let's ride on.
- We've prayed at the shrine. - Some of us have.
Now we've got to get off to London.
- Oh. no. thanks. - Time never comes back again.
- Nor will your virgin blush. - Come on. son.
Tell us something about...love.
You'll simply have to forgive me if it's not the best tale you've ever heard.
He ruled all Mongolia.
He was brave and wise beyond equal. His name was Cambus Khan.
He had two sons - the fighting arms of the empire -
but his jewel was a daughter, Princess Canacee.
Oh, her beauty! I haven't the words.
It was the Khan's birthday and everyone was gathered for the feast.
Then, out of nowhere...
The Emperor of all India and Araby. my lord and protector.
greets you on this day and gifts to you...
a stallion of brass that in a day will transport you anywhere on the globe.
Turn this pin and he will vanish out of sight.
Also. for Lady Canacee...
The ring's power - wearing it.
there isn't a bird in the heavens whose language she won't understand.
This sword has the power to cleave through any armour.
And no man bloodied by it will ever see the wound heal until...
Magnificent! Wine. spices. music!
The revelry continued all night - well beyond my humble vocab -
and this strange Crimson Knight was chosen to dance with Princess Canacee.
But she bade him adieu long before the night's end - as sensible women tend to.
So the morning mist was still thick
when she woke her handmaidens to join her on a walk across the parks.
A woman's crying resounded through the trees, but where was she?
Then Canacee understood. She now wore the ring with the power of birds' language.
It was a peregrine falcon and soon she learned her sad story.
There was a grey-feather hawk. He flew the same skies as me.
I gave him my love. He swore his heart was mine. Our love was true.
Except he was a deceiver. a two-face.
A red kestrel crossed his path and he was in love with her.
I was clean forgotten.
Now that kestrel possesses my lover and I am without hope or cure.
As Canacee carried the falcon to her rooms, the others were just waking.
Algarsyf had been too busy drinking to learn how to ride the brass horse, so...
Whoa! Hey. stop! Help! Whoa there!
The pin in the ear! Just turn the pin! The pin...!
Help me. someone!
Now I understand. This was always your intention!
- I would have instructed him had he... - I will search for him.
- And leave the kingdom with no generals? - I have no choice.
Then you must take this.
They will protect you.
Algarsyf travelled twice 10,000 miles before he learned to control the stallion.
Somewhere over the Indian oceans.
He made landfall in an island palace.
He was overcome with the beauty of this woman.
She could only be a princess.
- I mean no harm. Please. you're safe. - And who are you?
I am Prince Algarsyf. son of Cambus. khan of...
- (SHOUTING) - Tell me your name.
- Theodora. - I shall return for you. Theodora.
The Crimson Knight sought audience with the Khan.
I beg to ask for the hand of your daughter in marriage. I believe she also...
Now I know I will never find a man worthy of trust.
First you take my sons from me. render our city defenceless.
now you attempt to steal my daughter! Never!
She loved him, but the falcon's story had hardened her heart against all men.
Prince Cambalo spent many months searching for his brother in the east.
And still there was no word, no trace of him.
The son of Cambus?
And then a mysterious horsewoman crossed his path
and, in an instant, he was in love with her.
He forgot the quest for his brother, the barbarian threat massing to attack his city.
- Father. we have no choice. - I will fight them all!
I can save the city.
Crown me king and I can call on the armies of India and Araby.
Take the invincible sword. Take my kingdom.
Any man who attacks this city...
my city -
risks the anger of all Arabia!
In a city full of spies, the Crimson Knight could not even tell Canacee the truth -
he was only posing as its new ruler to force the enemy into retreat.
How can I prove to you my love is real?
Do not hope.
Cambalo was entranced by love of this woman,
but she was a sorceress ensnaring any man she found.
Look out! She does not love you! She trapped us all! Escape while you can!
Thanks to the ring, he heard the warning. The trance was broken.
Theodora's father had wasted no time and arranged for her to marry the King of China.
To delay the marriage, Theodora feigned madness.
The Sultan summoned any and all physicians.
- Algar... - Quiet yourself. Quiet.
- You have calmed her. - keep well back. The cure is incomplete.
Of course. Guards!
Now! Come to me now! Come!
Both brothers raced homewards, Cambalo guided by the hawk.
But the Crimson Knight's flag flew over the city.
They demanded to fight to redeem their honour.
But Algarsyf had forgotten the invincible sword.
The brothers were near death until...
I seized this kingdom only to protect it.
My subterfuge needed to be total. Now it is yours again.
Canacee now knew he was truly worthy of her love.
Cambus decreed that there should be a better and bigger feast.
Suffice to say that there were three weddings.
Algarsyf to Theodora.
Canacee to the Crimson knight. who took the name of Cambalo like his new brother...
- Three life sentences. - Even the birds were reunited.
(PRIORESS) "Evil is paid out in evil." said the Provost.
So he hanged them. All according to...
If it hadn't been for the bells on your bridle. I'd be dropping off.
You should be more polite. a man in your position.
(CHAUCER) A lawyer. The busiest man alive.
Though maybe he always seems just that bit busier than he actually is.
God save you! But we had so formed the hope of partaking of your company.
Saw you ride out of the tavern this morning. My master loves to chat.
Your master looks a sharp bloke. I bet he can tell a story or two.
Clever? Get out of here.
He knows so much. see all this ground from here back to Canterbury?
- He could turn it all into silver. gold. - Could he really?
Astounding. A servant of the Church who cares so little about how he looks.
All you've got to do is set it all up. What you do is...
- Silence! Nary another word or... - People think you can double their money.
You are revealing that which shall nevermore be revealed.
Oh. yeah? I'm sick up to here with you!
Seven years lurking in alleys and I'm no nearer the philosopher's stone.
You beslander me before all these people!
We're going to hear something now.
What I don't understand is...
why is your face such a funny colour?
I'm the one who works the bellows.
At the start, we tried it all -
orpiment, burnt bones, iron filings ground into the finest dust,
litharge ground on a slab of porphyry.
Oh, yeah! Armenian clay, verdigris, clay melanged with hair from an horse...
..or from a man.
Rubified water and bull's gall.
Arsenic, sal ammoniac and brimstone. We all smell of brimstone.
Everyone's got his say-so.
The fire. It was too long and thin.
- It was the blowing. - We perpetrated a calculatory error.
But we had to go on with our experiments. Know what I mean?
So there was this priest - a scholar, sang masses for the dead.
Who else is my boss gonna hit on?
You've always been so kind to me. So kind.
I must return the service.
- I could show you the secrets of alchemy. - Would you?
This priest has no idea who he's dealing with.
- We must send out for quicksilver. - Righto.
There are but slender few to whom I would reveal the secrets of my philososcience.
I shall now mortify this quicksilver
and render it unto finest silver.
This powder here. this is the key to my alchemy. Pour.
It was chalk or glass or some cheap bollocks.
My alchemy has transmuted ordinary metal into silver.
God is great!
- Incredible! - Silver?
- This is bleeding genius. - Genius!
- I want that powder. - I know a swindle...
The silver rod was up his sleeve.
The mould was carved exactly to shape.
Teach me the secret!
Use this stick. why don't you? Stir.
Gold! What'll this powder cost me? Tell me!
There's only myself and a friar who know the recipe.
LP40 of gold coin and it's yours. my son.
Come on! It's a hollow stick. innit?
An ounce of gold filings in the end. stopped up with wax. the wax melts...
As you love me. you must always keep this quiet.
Envy. It will be the death of me.
Oh, so now the Priest sets about his own experiments.
It was never going to work. Know what I mean?
That alchemy always sends them doolally.
The greatest scholars aren't the wisest.
I'm safe. Not much Latin down my gullet.
You're the Latin scholar. Don't be shy.
(CHAUCER) An eternal Oxford student. He's given over his life to logic chopping.
He hasn't managed to find holy office. He couldn't find it with a map.
He's like a newly-wed virgin. the morning after!
Sir. I bow to your superior governance.
Um... In Italy...
(YAWNS AND GROANS)
There isn't a man alive who tells lies half as well as a woman.
With one exception.
Oh. yeah? We all know where friar's come from - out the devil's bum hole.
If a man's wronged in one way. he'll get it settled in another.
I know a great story about that.
This girl called Alison. She's got these you-know eyes...
- I must hear nothing of it. - Stuff that. I want to hear his story.
You've been at the wine. haven't you? Sneaking it out the barrel?
Oh. vino tinto.
It turns anger and sickness to happiness and love.
The day you're born. Death turns the tap of your life barrel and lets it run.
- Mine's almost empty. - Let's hear your story.
I fear this is going to be unattractive.
Is it my fault I never slept in the Ascropolis? Or read Julius Seizure?
There's Deptford! Almost home. Get a move on.
This is just a little story about an Oxford scholar.
A nice lad - nice Nicholas. A poor student of astrology.
He could work out future things that was...still going to happen.
And he lodged with Alison.
Oh, she's as slim as a weasel.
And that mouth... Those lips...
But she's a restless one,
trapped in a marriage to a rich old carpenter.
She's lively and lusty and he's too old for her. Too old.
He's only doing this because I'm a carpenter. He's after me.
Steady on. I don't mean she's like your wife.
I could even things up if I wanted to talk filth. Talk about a miller's wife...
- Told you it'd be scandalous. - Right. You tell us yours.
At Trumpington near Cambridge. there was a miller.
He was a thief, skimming off the best of your corn. His wife was just as bad.
There's a great college at Cambridge. Simkin ground their wheat and stole plenty of it.
So two young scholars bet he couldn't steal nothing with them watching every move.
- We've come to grind. - What'll you do while I'm at it?
I've never seen a hopper waggle like yours.
Then I'll be by the trough. Watch it spurt.
But Simkin knew their game and he knew them great scholars aren't all that clever.
The more they wanted to catch him,
the more he wanted to cheat them..
He waited for his chance, then he snuck out.
Off to the fen. Get yourself a wild mare.
Simkin didn't say a word.
Him and the wife just joked and chatted
till all the college corn was ground, bagged and stacked.
They all laughed.
They had a daughter too, but Simkin was saving her for someone special,
not stupid students.
- Nobbing hell! The nobbing horse has gone. - Where did he go?
The fen. where the wild mares roam.
Why didn't you put him in the barn? Alan. you're a moron!
Be a fine miller if I couldn't put one over on book-learners!
Oh. very amusing. I must say. Very droll.
He can see a splinter in my eye and not a plank in his own.
Now we've got a carpenter turned preacher. Thank you. Satan!
It's a sin to slander a man's wife.
Slander my Alison? She's always in church. Going down...on her knees.
That's where she meets jolly Absalon, the parish clerk.
He's a young dancing thing.
He plays the fiddle, sings a pipe and knows just how to do his hair.
But it's the parish wives he's after.
He's quite gone for the carpenter's wife.
Have mercy! Mercy me!
He woos her with poems and honey and mead.
And oven-hot cakes.
But where does all his wooing get him?
Your Faraway Ray doesn't stand a chance against your Nearby Guy.
- Love me tout de suite or I will perish. - I will never kiss thee.
I'll cry out. "Merci, Monsieur!"
'Ere. where are your hands?
My husband's so jealous.
I'd be some student if I couldn't put one over on a chippy. If we can just...
Nick locked himself in his room for days. The old carpenter was worried.
- It's the astronononomy of his. - Is he dead?
- Man shouldn't look into God's privates. - (NICk SOBS)
- Must it all end so soon? - What's that?
I've been observing the moon.
Look at this.
Monday night coming. a hard rain's going to fall -
twice the size of Noah's flood!
The whole world will be gone.
My little Alison wifey too?
- Follow my instructions and I'll save us. - Anything you say.
We need three big troughs...
(REEVE) Why do you want to slander an honest carpenter?
So I'm drunk? Hang me!
The Miller's a thug. You know this as well as I do.
And so's this Master Carpenter. Don't blame me.
If you don't want to hear it... don't start story-telling competitions!
- (SILENCE) - Thank you!
Where were we?
They finally caught the horse. dragged it back wet and muddy.
They paid Simkin their last crown to roast a goose and make up a bed for them.
Then they settled down to sleep. They'd all had more than enough to drink.
Our corn's been stolen. Our mates will call us idiots.
John. there's a law that says if a man's done down one way.
he'll get it back in another.
- Stop! Stop! - (PRIORESS) This man...it is impossible.
- Nothing but filth. - And I'm supposed to show good breeding?
Nick told the carpenter he needed to hang three troughs up in the attic.
When the rains came, they could hack their way out and float off.
But what with working flat out all day, the old man falls straight to sleep.
First snore and the lovers are down the stairs, no questions asked.
Absalon hasn't seen the carpenter all day and reckons the coast is well clear.
Alison. my honey-sweet cinnamon?
Awake. my love. It's your little lambkins. Baa!
Will you...will you...get lost!
True love always suffers.
Just one kiss?
- Then will you sod off? - For sure. my loveliness.
You never know. there may be more.
Now. shut your eyes. here comes your kiss.
- (LAUGHTER) - Women don't have...
You educated people. don't listen to his rubbish.
My student's tucked up in bed.
When Alan tells everyone. they'll say I'm a nancy.
He's moving the cradle from the end of Simkin's bed to the end of his.
So when Simkin's wife comes back in...
Almost ended up in the student's bed.
She hadn't had it so good for years, or for so long.
(MILLER) I've had enough! Absalon is right muffed. He wants revenge.
He goes to the blacksmith's forge...
(REEVE) No! The student and the miller's daughter had been at it all night.
For ever more. wherever I wend. I'll be thy faithful scholar.
Before you wend. just behind the back door is a cake baked with your stolen corn.
He tried to find his own bed again.
He knowed Simkin's bed by the cradle at the end.
He found it, slipped into the other one, and started telling his friend -
except he was talking to Simkin!
(MILLER) Shut your trap! Absalon got a hot ploughshare from the smithy.
I've brought you a gold ring. All I ask is one little kissykins and it's yours.
Nick reckoned it was his turn.
Speak. birdy sweet. I cannot see you.
Here I is. (FART)
(REEVE) Disgusting. Mine's an honest fight - miller versus student.
(MILLER) No one's interested! Absalon picked himself up and thwacked him.
- You should have heard him yell for water. - Water!
Up in the attic, the old man hears the shouts.
Noel's flood! Noel's flood!
The wife reckons it's the students fighting.
She hits out as hard as she can.
(REEVE) No, you don't! (MILLER) That carpenter's wife...
Come on. come on. Hurry up. Get those gates shut.
You can't do that! I'm a working man!
- You can't be angry with me. - I protest.
Here end "The Canterbury Tales" compiled by Geoffrey Chaucer.
on whose soul Jesus Christ have mercy... Amen.
Now. who won the dinner? Everyone liked mine...