Quest for Knighthood
The Letter for the King, an action-packed adventure based on a novel by Tonke Dragt, tells the story of Tiuri and his quest for knighthood in the fictional Kingdom of Dagonaut. Young Tiuri is under intense pressure to succeed because his father, Tiuri the Brave, is renowned throughout the kingdom for his heroics.
Those in the running are given only one opportunity every four years to win the coveted knighthood. The challenges each participant must face are designed to prove the candidate is faithful, helpful and brave. Tiuri (Yannick van de Velde), having successfully completed three challenges, eagerly awaits his final test. The king orders the five teen participants to spend an evening locked inside the Chapel on the Hill. They are allowed to pray but must not eat, drink or talk while there. Nobody can leave until morning when their fathers will arrive to take them to the knighting ceremony. They are warned not to open the door to anyone regardless of the circumstance.
Failure to observe these rules means that an individual will not become a knight the next morning. Tiuri tries hard to ignore loud thumps at the door but is compelled to open it just a crack when a man named Vokia indicates he’s gravely wounded. When Tiuri steps from the building to attend to the man, the door locks behind him. The wounded Vokia begs Tiuri to take a letter addressed to the King of Unauwen. He tells him to deliver it to the Black Knight, who possesses his white shield and has been hiding in the King’s Forest nearby.
After Tiuri accepts the letter, he rides his horse deep into the woods. There he stumbles upon the Black Knight lying on the ground clinging to life. The Knight manages to explain that the letter is of great importance both to Dagonaut and Unauwen. He tells Tiuri how to find a hermit named Menaures (Rüdiger Vogler) who lives in the mountains. He gives Tiuri a ring so the hermit will know who has sent him. Menaures will then guide him through the mountains into Unauwen. Before drawing his last breath, the knight advises Tiuri not to open the letter unless in danger. If impelled to open the letter, he must memorize its contents.
Meanwhile, a man named Jaro (Kees Boot) has been sent to follow and kill Tiuri. Upon reaching his intended victim, Jaro insists he will take Tiuri to Menaures. Fortunately, Jaro is unable to kill his target, for Tiuri saves him from falling to his death.
Tiuri now realizes his enemies lurk everywhere. Even the notorious Red Riders are out to ambush him. Finally reaching Menaures, the old hermit informs the youth he’s too feeble to survive the trek to Unauwen. Instead, he offers the guidance of his faithful servant Piak (Quinten Schram).
Will Tiuri complete his dangerous journey? And how will his actions impact his quest for knighthood?
Director Pieter Verhoeff pays incredible attention to detail here, especially in the film’s captivating sword fighting sequences. Yannick van de Velde delivers a polished performance in the complex role of Tiuri. Although he makes this character appear stoic, we sense that deep down he’s insecure and fearful.
While the film is suitable for children of all ages, the dialogue is in Dutch with English subtitles, so viewers must be old enough to read in order to understand the story.
The Letter for the King is an official selection of the 2009 Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children. Remaining screenings are April 20th, 22nd and 24th. For more information, go to http://www.sprockets.ca or call 416-968-FILM.
(Released by Delphis Films; not rated by MPAA.)