This dignified and stylized film, set in the Middle Ages, follows the exploits of Sir Perceval, a legendary exemplar of knightly chivalry and one of the champions of King Arthur's Round Table. The story is based on the verse tale Perceval ou le Conte del Graal. as recounted by the 12th-century French novelist Chrétien de Troyes. While living with his widowed mother, the young Perceval (Fabrice Luchini) is much impressed by the grandeur of the knights he sees, and he undertakes to become one. In one respect his sense of honor is peculiar, because he rapes several virgins in accordance with an enigmatic command from his mother. Even in this, he practically quivers with a burning desire to do good. Though the story's language has been modernized to make it comprehensible to modern French speakers, Eric Rohmer's screenplay retains the verse forms of the original.