Film Review: The Green Knight (2021)

Release Date: July 29th, 2021 (Switzerland, Germany, Israel)
Directed by: David Lowery
Written by: David Lowery
Based on: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by anonymous
Music by: Daniel Hart
Cast: Dev Patel, Ralph Ineson, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Erin Kellyman, Patrick Duffy (voice)

Sailor Bear, BRON Studios, A24, 130 Minutes

Review:

“[as the Queen’s voice overlaps with the Green Knight’s while she reads his letter] Oh, greatest of kings, indulge me in this friendly Christmas game. Let whichever of your knights is boldest of blood and wildest of hearts step forth, take up arms and try with honor to land a blow against me. Whomsoever nicks me shall lay claim to this my arm. Its glory and riches shall be thine. But… thy champ must bind himself to this: should he land a blow, then one year and Yuletide hence, he must seek me out yonder to the Green Chapel six nights to the north. He shall find me there and bend a knee and let me strike him in return, be it a scratch on the cheek or a cut in the throat. I will return what was given me, and then in trust and friendship, we shall part. Who, then, who is willing to engage with me?” – Green Knight; Queen

I went into this without expectation and that’s probably the best way to see this.

This is a live-action adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s a story I always enjoyed, which I first discovered when I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of it. There are other translations but it was the Tolkien one that I first discovered and experienced and it’s probably the only version I’ll ever revisit, unless someone can sell me on another one.

This is also the first adaptation of the poem in decades, at least that I am aware of. I saw the one with Sean Connery, years ago, and thought it was pretty weak. This version, was far superior to that one and what I just experienced is one of the best traditional fantasy motion pictures that I’ve seen in quite some time.

Dev Patel plays Sir Gawain and I thought he was fantastic. He’s also one hell of a strikingly good looking man. With that, he has the sort of regal and manly visage that made him look like he belonged at the table with King Arthur. In the story, he even gets to wield Excalibur for his first confrontation with the mythic Green Knight.

Patel truly carries this film on his back. Granted, he is backed up by a pretty talented cast. I especially liked Sean Harris as Arthur.

The film is very melodic and dreamlike. I wouldn’t say that it moves slow, it just enchants you, puts you in a strange trance and then pulls you along on this adventure. It works well and I liked the somewhat relaxed pacing, as you kind of need to marinate in the different sequences and take in the dialogue, the emotion and also the visually captivating cinematography.

The Green Knight feels otherworldly but it also feels familiar. As for Arthurian legends, it feels truly authentic and frankly, it’s one of the best King Arthur-related movies that I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 9/10

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