02nd Dec2021

‘The Green Knight’ Blu-ray Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson | Written and Directed by David Lowery

Dev Patel stars as our wastrel noble, Gawain in the time of Arthurian legend. He has notions of being a Knight but is rather too busy fornicating with beautiful ladies and drinking all night long. He is rather non-committal about when he intends to become a full knight, but it is on the cards.

His Mother is a witch, who doesn’t seem to be terribly popular. On Christmas day Gawain finds himself at the Christmas feast, and the rather ill looking King finally summons Gawain to his side. The two, it turns out are blood related but to this point the King has made no effort to get to know Gawain, so asks him for a story from his life, so that he might know Gawain better. Gawain can only answer that he has no story to tell. On this revelation, the titular Green Knight (a verdant, sinister tree man) suddenly rides in. The green knight might have been somehow summoned by the witch mum. The King is clearly displeased at this, but is sickly, and is frustrated to realise he is unable to leap over the table to have at the Green Knight.

The Green Knight offers a game, of sorts. If one of the assembled Knights (or nearly Knights, in the case of Gawain) can land a blow on the Green Knight, but if they do, they will have to travel to the green chapel in a years’ time, and the Green Knight will return whatever blow is struck exactly. Flush with the excitement of talking with the King, Gawain volunteers, and is unable to resist himself, cleaving the head of the green knight off with the King’s own sword. Naturally, seconds later, the green knight picks up his head, and laughing manically departs on his horse. Nearly a year later, and Gawain seems to have thought little about that day. The King makes an unexpected visit to his house, to remind him of the commitment that Gawain made, but also that it is only a game.

With a leaving present from his mother, and the blessing of the increasingly sickly King, Gawain sets off to the green chapel to fulfil his obligation, albeit begrudgingly. Before he goes, his clearly loving girlfriend, who seems a bit beneath him, were it comes to a wedding, asks him why he must go and prove he is a “great” man, when he can stay and just be a “good” man. I thought this was extremely poignant and touching…

Directed by David Lowrey, from some quite possibly mistranslated middle English, The Green Knight is a surreal affair, that is quite possibly not what a lot of viewers were expecting. At time of writing, it has an exactly 50 percent audience score on IMDb, but this is never a 50% film, this is a film you either love or hate, and if 50 percent tells us anything, it tells us that the audience is split down the middle.

I loved The Green Knight. I have seen people state that the film is incredibly long and dull, but I was absolutely raptured for the full run time (yes, over 2 hours). I found the subtle acting style of Dev Patel perfect for the role, at times he seems to simultaneously show a chivalric stiff under lip, while his heart is breaking.

This is not Conan the Barbarian. During our trek across the land, our hero does not slay dragons, or trolls. In fact, he doesn’t kill anyone. But he does come upon haunting giants and, scene to scene is tested in various ways, he befriends a fox. He sits on his horse for extended periods of time.

Given how wonderful, and strong the knights of the land are, it is remarkable how widespread banditry and murder are. At time we find the beautiful but troubled land marked by bodies of men, and of wild and mythical creatures, spears or arrows in their hides. The Green Knight is full of the texture of the land, this is about the journey, rather than the destination. Each stop seems to be on the edge of cataclysm, this seems like a land on the brink, as the strength of the good King ebbs away.

Gawain never crosses swords with a Black Knight, but he does get accosted by some extremely nasty bandits and helps a beautiful peasant girl work out if she is alive or dead, and what might have happened to her head. Gawain, is at heart a good egg, and that goodness is sorely tested by the series of bad eggs he rubs up against (literally). Along the way, Gawain’s sexuality seems to be constantly at the fore, being tested, perhaps. His chivalric duty must be tied to this, but it feels more. The land and the people are testing him, but to what end?

Will Gawain find the green chapel? Will he simply flee home, as many on his quest suppose he simply should. It is only a game, after all. What of the game? Is all this hardship merely to have his head removed from his shoulders, as the game is laid out, or is there more to all this?

I was absolutely enchanted by this incredibly simple tale. The brilliance of the acting, the direction, and the extremely unsettling feeling I had throughout The Green Knight were a testament to what a brilliant little indie film this is. I was transfixed for the runtime.

I enjoy oiled up musclemen getting hacked to pieces by Arnold Schwarzenegger, while the iconic music plays, as much as the next film fan, but The Green Knight is not that, if you are expecting that you are going to be one of the people (incorrectly) complaining this is boring. I cannot wait to watch it again. It is an enchanting trip through half remembered lore with a wonderful character to lead us.

Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Boldest of Blood & Wildest of Heart: Making The Green Knight
  • Practitioners of Magic: Visual Effects
  • Illuminating Technique: Title Design
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Green Knight is available on Blu-ray now, in the US, from Lionsgate.


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