- Adapted from the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- Directed, Written, Edited, and Produced by David Lowery
- July 30, 2021
Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, sets out on a journey to test his courage and face the Green Knight after a bargain was made the year prior.
A24 presents yet another weird and at time disturbing film this time with The Green Knight starring Dev Patel as Gawain. This is a much darker take than I have ever seen on an aspect of the Arthurian legend. There is something unsettling about the movie from the get-go. It is all very odd and atmospheric with flowery dialogue that helps immerse you in the time. They don’t speak in a modern way but rather in a very old style that feels like Shakespeare decided to write a mild horror film.
There is not a lot handed to you in this story. Some of it you have to infer and decide for yourself. For example it’s implied that Gawain’s mother (Sarita Choudhury) is Morgan Le Fay but they don’t quite say that here. Depending on the version of the legend you prefer this parentage is accurate. King Arthur does not get addressed by name either.
The Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) who makes the pack with Gawain is very unusual. He looks like a creature of nature or even nature itself and this conflicts with the almost sterile appearance of the Arthurian court. Ineson does very little physically but with his delivery. Under so much makeup and prosthetics he delivers an imposing performance.
One thing that bothers me is why did Gawain agree to participate in the Green Knight’s challenge? Seriously. You have a supernatural creature waltzing into your castle that issues a challenge. Part of the challenge is you get to inflict a wound on him and then one year later he gets to do it to you. Why say “Yes”? It’s obviously a trick. Especially when he allows you to decapitate him. You may not know what the angle is, but you have to understand that something hinky is going on. Only a complete moron wouldn’t.
The quest that Gawain must partake in is a series of short vignettes that are also part of an overarching narrative. They are both weird and surreal and totally engrossing. They are more dark visions than stories and get stranger as the story progresses, but you also realize that they are all linked and connect in some odd way to Gawain’s journey.
Gawain is no saint in this story. Again that goes with whichever version/aspect of the legend you gravitate towards. He’s not a virtuous individual but rather a sinful man who has a prostitute as a mistress. Not your normal Arthurian material. I am certainly more accustomed to pillars of virtue and individuals we should aspire to be than ones we should avoid. In that The Green Knight is one of those movies that seeks to deconstruct the character of Gawain. Why I don’t know. Everybody wants to deconstruct a character these days it seems. I personally find that a little stale.
The costume is amazing here. It appears as if the costume designer studied medieval art in order to get it right. I was just floored by what we got. It was realistic but nothing like a fantasy film.
However this movie is not for everybody. There isn’t a lot of action and while there is magic, it’s not something like you would see in a Doctor Strange film. I guess you’d say this movie is much more grounded than the classic Excalibur for example.
The Green Knight is a very good film but it’s a very good film that’s not for everybody. If you’re looking for something sword and sorcery I say go away but if you looking for something a little unique and dark I suggest you check this out.