“The Green Knight” is a medieval fantasy film directed, written, and produced by David Lowery and was released in the U.S on July 30th 2021. Adapted from the anonymous 14th Century poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the story is centered around Gawain the nephew of King Arthur – played by Dev Patel, who steps forward to take up a challenge given by the Green Knight in the royal court.
I think I have lost count of all the cinematic/tv adaptions and interpretations of the Arthurian legend over the years, while some have been quite good, others have been nothing more than mediocre at best. All previous movies about the Arthurian legend has had Arthur himself as the main protagonist, but this film diverges and the focus is solely placed on Gawain. And why shouldn’t it be? – let’s face it, legends are legends for one simple reason – they exist in the realms of fantasy and romanticism – leaving lots of room for the imagination, and speak of unbelievable feats performed by mere mortals such as you and I, and rely more on interpretation than historical fact and, highly depend of one’s temporary suspension of disbelief. Technically speaking the Aurthurian legend is Welsh in origin, but some would argue that its origins are in part, stolen from the French. That aside and, leaving the question of geographic origins behind, The Green Knight has a lot to offer for its two-plus hours duration. The film is by no means epic in scale, and despite the journey Gawain undergoes, you never get the feeling of scale or distance – or indeed the miles he must travel in order to reach the Green Chapel itself. But this is just a minor gripe to an otherwise highly enjoyable film which manages to meld fantasy and surrealism together in such a way that the fine lines of reality become blurred, and that’s saying nothing about the highly ingenious, but ambiguous five word ending sequence. . .remember my point about interpretation?
Beautifully filmed at various locations in Ireland, the Irish landsacpe lends itself perfectly for this medieval romp – with a little help from CGI effects of course!
Basic plot overview. . .
Gawain’s mother, Morgan le Fay, performs a ritual after scolding her son for his acquaintance with a lowly prostitute and henceforth summon’s the Green Knight to Arthur’s court.
The Green Knight’s Challenge:
It is Christmas morning and during the celebrations a mysterious figure on horseback barges in to the court of King Arthur. The Green Knight throws down his challenge: any Knight capable of landing a successful blow on him will win his green axe, but then the Knight – one year later, must travel to the Green Chapel and return the axe and receive an equal blow in return. After a moment of hesitation Gawain steps forward and declares his intent to accept the challenge. King Arthur hands his sword (Excalibur) to his nephew who then wields it and faces the Green Knight. Gawain beheads the kneeling Green Knight with Excalibur and his head drops to the floor. Moments later the Green Knight stands and retrieves his head, laughs, and exits the royal court on his horse.
Something mystical and magical going on here?!
One year later Gawain sets off to visit the Green Chapel to uphold his part of the bargain which he accepted when taking up the challenge.
Want to travel with Gawain on his travels? “The Green Knight” is now available on some streaming services and is well worth your attention should you like medieval fantasy stories.