Reel Reviews | The Green Knight

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

A man who has no story is tested to see if he has what is necessary to become a knight and maybe even a king in the fantasy adventure, The Green Knight.

On one fateful Christmas eve, as the King has assembled the knights to the round table to celebrate, the king’s nephew, Gawain is invited to sit at the head of the table beside the King and Queen.  During the festivities, a strange green colored man enters the chamber riding a dark horse.  Interrupting the gathering, the knight issues a challenge to anyone who can strike a blow against him that he will repay the blow in a year at the Green Chapel.  Since on one accepts the challenge, Gawain stops the elderly King and takes the challenge himself.  Instead of fighting, the knight bows and gives up his head.  Gawain takes off the intruder’s head with the king’s sword.  Surprisingly, the beheaded knight rises from the floor, grabs his head, and leaves.  Now a year later, the now-famous Sir Gawain has to travel to the Green Chapel and face the Green Knight.

Written for the screen and directed by David Lowery (The Old Man & the Gun, Pete’s Dragon), The Green Knight stars Dev Patel, Joel Edgerton, Alicia Vikander, Sarita Choudhury, Sean King, Kate Dickie, Emmet O’Brien, Ralph Ineson, Erin Kellyman and Barry Keoghan.  American Lowery undertakes an incredibly ambitious attempt to re-create and re-invent a well-known English legend of the Arthurian vein, successfully.

The legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale that has been told three times on the big screen prior to this re-creation.  One time with Sean Connery playing The Green Knight.  Gawain is the nephew of King Arthur and although it is clear that the King (Sean Harris) in this film is Arthur, unlike in previous versions, Arthur is never mentioned by his name neither is his wife Guinevere (Kate Dickie) who is only referred to as the Queen nor even Merlin (Emmet O’Brien) who also makes an appearance and is simply the Magician.  Even the sword Excalibur makes an appearance without identification.  Perhaps Lowery refrains from utilizing the true identities of these characters in order to place the focus upon Gawain and center the story upon him.

Nevertheless, David Lowery only adds to his reputation for being an outstanding and visionary filmmaker with this movie.  The Green Knight is full of intensely gorgeous, lavish, and captivating scenery that is mesmerizing in detail and complication.  The movie is awesome to view and impossible to withdraw from.  To add to the visuals, the acting in the film is equally powerful.  Each of the characters in the movie is so well done by each actor that they definitely connect with the audience.  Every intention and imagination is plainly established by the cast.  Until the end…

Here’s the deal.  You absolutely must know the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to ultimately enjoy the conclusion of this film.  There are times during the entirety of the film that some of this prior knowledge would be helpful as well but not completely necessary.  The reason is that this movie is a creative re-telling of the legend with Lowery taking some license on the story.  All in all, the tale is told very well although some of the old-world languages and dialects can be a little difficult to access.

Rated R for violence, some sexuality, and graphic nudity, The Green Knight is poetry comes to visual life as David Lowery paints a beautiful portrait of the origin and testing of Sir Gawain.  The movie is the tastiest of eye candy that is best savored by those who know and appreciate the legend. 

The Green Knight is in theaters. 

Grade:  B+