The Green Knight (2021) is an epic screen retelling of the famed Arthurian folk poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, directed by David Lowery under the A24 production banner. It is often regarded as the most famous story from the medieval period, showing us a taste of life under King Arthur and his knights. The movie stars Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, along with Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Ralph Ineson and Sean Harris in supporting roles.
The plot of the film revolves around Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, who is sought for a game by a mysterious Green Knight on Christmas day. The condition being that if Gawain cannot kill the Green Knight in one blow of the sword, he will be responded with in the same way. The movie documents Gawain’s decisions and journey to attain honor, glory and the valor of a knight.
It involves the use of various symbolic motifs of Arthurian tales, and also a signature A24 style of storytelling combining vivid imagery and sparse dialogue. It is not an easy movie to understand in one watching, but is definitely one of the best medieval fantasy movies to hit theaters.
It is a pattern we see that almost all of A24’s productions feature masterful cinematography and simply mind-blowing background scores. The Green Knight is also a pleasure of a viewing experience, with scenes of pleasing color schemes, ambient music while being a visual eye-candy. The actors were simply too realistic, often leaving us wondering if it was this that was the original Arthurian Tale, for it is not.
The director explains that although the essence of the original poem remained the same, details were left out or fabricated to maintain sanctity of the lessons learned and not focus too much on the characters, in which he has succeeded. Dev Patel owns the screen every moment he is in it, finessing the portrayal of Sir Gawain and invoking a sense of pride towards the end.
The story is the tough part of the film, often leaving us wondering too much and frankly a tad bit confusing. It follows a very linear storyline, but resorts to periods of unexplainable scenes with little to no backend explanation.
This can, however, be cleared in a second screening, because then it is easier to connect with the conclusion of the movie. We would like to leave you with just one last spoiler free suggestion- relish every scene and observe everything that a single shot has, because the beauty lies in the intricacies.
Why watch The Green Knight?
The answer is simply that it is unlike no other. It combines elements of medieval storytelling, fewer dialogues and more of the background speaking to us, acting done to perfection and the sound just transporting us to the plains of England. It is one for the creatives, who looks for richness of art in cinema and for those who watch it for the technicalities. The story, however, is a little vague and ambitious of the average viewer, requiring a lot of thinking and head-scratching.