The Green Knight, based upon the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, does the poem justice. We join our relatively pure-hearted Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) on Christmas morning, as he wakes in what appears to be a brothel. He rushes home to his Mother (Sarita Choudhury), to change for the Christmas Day feast with the aged King (Sean Harris). Mother is left behind as Gawain goes to the feast, and conjures the appearance of the Green Knight.
Gawain agrees to the Christmas game proposed by the Green Knight so that he can be knighted himself. The game is the same as the poem, a knight gives a blow to the Green Knight, and a year from that date, the knight will visit the Green Chapel so he can return the favour.
The year passes, and Gawain sets out on his quest. Mother gives him the gift of a green sash, that will protect him as he faces the journey and the Green Knight. He sets off on his trippy journey, encountering a scavenger (Barry Keoghan) along the way and is quickly delayed in his quest and left for dead, losing his green sash. After freeing himself, he sets out on his allegory-filled quest again, encountering St. Winifred (Erin Kellyman) and giants, before being led by a fox to a castle near the Green Chapel.
The castle is where the film gets back on track with the poem. The Lord (Joel Egerton) shows kindness and hospitality, while his wife (Alicia Vikander), takes the role of temptress. Alicia Vikander plays both the Lady and the prostitute that Gawain is in love with back home. It’s understandably confusing for Gawain. The same deal is struck between the Lord and Gawain, while the Lord is away on the hunt he will give Gawain everything he catches, while Gawain promises to give the Lord anything he receives at the castle. Gawain does not end up keeping the agreement as he’s seduced by the Lady and gets the green sash back. He escapes the castle and goes to the Green Chapel to finish the Christmas game. The end was very interesting, would Gawain choose to be courageous and maintain his honour, accepting death? Or would he be a coward, running away to be knighted, then subsequently become King? The ending was scary good.
My first thought after the film ended was that we finally got a film that did an Arthurian legend justice. I happened to be really into Arthuriana, so this film was such a treat. Though, I am left with some questions. I’m not sure which sister Mother was supposed to be. Was Mother Morgaine or Morgause? I assume it was Morgause, but Mother was a little more witchy, so maybe Morgaine? I also don’t know if, in the film, the Green Knight was the Lord. The characters were played by two different actors, but the Lord is definitely supposed to be the Green Knight.
Another thing I did like is that I don’t believe they ever called the King by his name, Arthur. This was a smart move, as the story was centralized on Sir Gawain, and not about Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
The one sore thumb for me was Alicia Vikander. Her accent when she was the prostitute, Essel, was horrid. I also think that character wasn’t really needed at all because she was just annoying. The whole brothel situation itself was kind of lame because Gawain was supposed to be pure and innocent. The innocence being lost at the Castle was a major part of the poem.
Dev Patel was excellent as Gawain; I was entranced by him, and he kept my attention the entire film. I know there were grumblings about his casting, but seriously, this is a fantasy story. It also is not impossible for people of a different race to be present all over Europe. There once was this empire called Rome, that encompassed a very large area, and enabled people to travel around and settle in areas.
I had been looking forward to this film since March of 2020, and it completely delivered. I hope we get more films like this, rather than the barrage of big dumb action and comic book films. I can’t wait to go see this film again!
The Green Knight was due to be released in the UK this week but has been pulled, with no definite release date at this moment in time.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.