Despite having the name Knight in its title, ‘The Green Knight’ doesn’t have any intense fight scenes or noble warriors showing off their sword wielding skills but it is as dark and deep as can be. This flick was written, directed, and produced by the abstract and the incredibly artistic, David Lowery based on a poem written during the 14th century titled ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.’ The movie stars Dave Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris and Raph Ineson and was theatrically released on July 30.
Dev Patel embodies the role of Sir Gawain or rather just Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew who is not a Knight yet, but wants to be one day, only that he isn’t ready yet. He spends his days and nights drinking himself silly. His mother played by Sarita Choudhury doesn’t approve of his careless and ambitionless way of life, but she is a supportive mother, nonetheless. The cast is extremely perfect from top to bottom with Sean Harris the bisexual killer from ‘The Borgias’ playing the feeble king Arthur and Katie Dickie best known as the breastfeeding helicopter mom from the Eyrie in the highly successful TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ as his queen, stars who both give off dark ages vibe. Swedish beauty Alicia Vikander, the badass chic from ‘Tom Raider’ takes over the role of Essel, Gawain’s lover, with a ridiculous accent and a page boy hair.
One day while the whole kingdom is celebrating Christmas Day just as tradition demands, his highness the king requests Gawain to sit on the high table with him despite the latter claiming he doesn’t deserve it and merry making continues. After Gawain receives this notable honor, a colossal tree like green creature emerges from the palace doors on horseback. He challenges the king’s men to land a blow on him undefended, however, this inviting offer has a little twist, whatever blow the willing knight shall land on this intimidating warrior, the same knight receiving the honor must travel a year later to The Green Chapel for The Green Knight to return the favor unchallenged. None of the king’s warriors is willing to put their neck on the guillotine so Gawain volunteers to take the strike a move that launches his quest while becoming his quagmire at the same time.
This quest definitely leads to a lot of questions regarding the mysterious title character considering we saw Gawain’s mother performing some weird spells and enchantments just before the tree monster appears. One can’t help to wonder who he is, what his purpose is, whether he can be trusted, if there are ways to trick him or even why he posed the challenge anyway.
Nevertheless, one year passes pretty fast and Gawain sets off on his journey to fulfill his promise. Along the way, he encounters intriguing and scary people and circumstances which are as grim as The Green Knight himself. For instance, there is the dirty looking pumpkin faced urchin played by Barry Keoghan who tricks and robs Gawain along his way, a ghost looking for her dismembered head and a mysterious fox that keeps following him and seems to be guiding his way. Spoiler alert, this fox starts to talk at some point.
The story cruises smoothly with the various scenes and events nicely piecing together resulting to the motion beauty that is ‘The Green Knight.’ The award worthy performances from the various actors and actresses, the cinematography, using wide shots to open up vast areas, zooming in and tilting across to show the extent to which the open lands and the woodlands cover, tilting 360 degrees for dramatic effects, the production design, the iconic costumes and above all the score. All these aspects are superbly put together resulting in a great movie that will definitely become a masterpiece. The fact that the movie takes place in different locations adds the aspect of adventure making it more captivating and exhilarating due to the fear of the unknown. The scenes are so smartly shot it’s as if each has its own individual story to tell making one for a moment to stop bothering about the lingering questions regarding the meaning of the quest and where it’s headed and simply savor the moment.
This medieval fantasy flick is basically the process of Gawain growing up and becoming a responsible adult. The Green Knight as one might wonder why he’s green and not blue or red or any other color for that matter can be interpreted as a representation of life, death, evil, entropy which consist the main aspects of Gawain’s quest as he searches for meaning in his life. Just like any other man of his age, Gawain is looking for love; honor and greatness which sometimes makes him wonder if it’s worth risking his life for. He starts to debate what really this honor is, whether it’s a feeling, way of life or simply an external challenge to compete and prove ones worth among society.
The aspects that make ‘The Green Knight’ a great picture is its being abstract, lateral and impressionistic which works in drawing in the crowd. Whereas in other acclaimed movies of this flick’s kind such as ‘First Cow’ treat sex like a strange thing or a taboo that one reads in magazines, passion is the heart of ‘The Green Knight’ something that is clearly visible throughout the movie.
For instance, Alicia Vikander plays two different characters based in various locations. For instance, she’s Gawain’s love interest back at home and the seductively gorgeous woman Gawain encounters in a castle along his way to seek out the title character. She shows great fluidity and expertly transitions between the two roles. The hair and makeup as well as the costume departments did a great job in separating these two characters and bringing out their best versions. Both Vikander and Patel have great chemistry making it hard to look away when the two are on a scene together.
In this flick, David Lowery is definitely reinventing the language of cinema as the movie progresses as the various components of the film gel nicely together, resulting in a fantastic movie perfectly delivered.