The Green Knight

The Green Knight (2021)
Directed & written for the screen by David Lowery

I’ve read a number of very disparaging comments about this movie but I really don’t get it. I have to question how familiar they are with Arthurian legends in general, let alone the epic tale of Gawain. The only conclusion I can draw is all these stories are shrouded in a mediaeval mysticism that could seem nonsensical or over the top to 21st century viewers. And this version of the Arthurian legend is visually sumptuous. Gloriously lit and shot by DoP (and frequent Lowery collaborator), Andrew Droz Palermo, this retelling plays deeply into the fantasy elements of the famous 14th century story.

Watching, I was reminded a few times of Terry Gilliam but more (particularly given the source) of John Boorman’s insanely flawed Excalibur (1981), which remains with Zardoz (1974) some of my not-so-guilty cinematic pleasures. While both Boorman especially and Gilliam to some extent veer into self indulgence, I don’t feel Lowery’s fallen into the same trap.

The casting is excellent and performances uniformly superb. Dev Patel has just the right balance of physicality, pride and foolishness to bring Gawain to life on his perilous journey to fulfill his bargain with the Green Knight, and he is ably supported by a great ensemble.

My only complaint is that this only had a very limited cinematic release here in Tasmania and I had to watch it at home via Amazon Prime on my big(ish) television. Nevertheless, it’s a glorious retelling of an epic story and, in my opinion, worth watching on any screen.

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