“The Green Knight” is director David Lowrey’s retelling of the classic Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In a desperate attempt to prove himself to his family and make something of his life, Gawain sets out to confront the powerful Green Knight in what becomes a journey of discovery and growth.
Pro – Beauty
“The Green Knight” is a gorgeous movie. Set in the England-inspired Camelot, “The Green Knight” is filmed on location in Ireland, though it could have easily been England’s Lake District. Gorgeous scenery is on display throughout the film. Lowrey uses saturation to give the film a deep, contemplative look, and then splashes in bright colors or lighting to enhance scenes. Everything looks and feels authentic, and the framing is incredibly deliberate and mesmerizing. “The Green Knight” is an intensely personal tale of Sir Gawain, but the world feels alive and epic.
It’s also worth noting that Dev Patel is amazing in this film. This is the kind of performance that can and should rocket him up into the A-list of Hollywood performers.
Neutral – Dense
“The Green Knight” is a story of personal discovery. At the start of the film, Gawain is rudderless and without purpose. Like many of his contemporaries today, he’s a young man with immense potential and yet not a single story to tell. The arrival of the Green Knight gives young Gawain a quest, and more importantly, sets him on a journey of both self-discovery and exploration of what it means to be an honorable man.
This is heady stuff, full of allegory and symbolism. This is a film that is meant to be digested, thought about, and discussed, not just consumed. It is not ride out, defeat the dragon, and rescue the princess stuff. That’s not bad of course, but it’s a different kind of film, and it requires a different frame of viewership. What is really happening and what is not seems secondary to what it mean to Gawain’s discovery of self. There’s a lot going on here; the question is whether it’s all as meaningful as the director thinks it is.
Con – Confusing
Having said that, “The Green Knight” can be very confusing. What is happening, and more importantly, why it’s happening, is often not clear. Even after further thought, parts of the film remain shrouded in confusion. Perhaps it’s a higher level of story-telling, and for sure, there are parts of the film where the symbolism and moment take on a dream-like quality where the point does not seem to be to further the literal journey of the character, but rather the emotional and spiritual journey of his psyche. Perhaps it’s all a dream, and like dreams, different vignettes play out, connected, and yet not always logically so.
It’s interesting and yet also frustrating. This quality is put into perfect focus by the stylistic word overlays used to announce a new part of the journey. They look pretty but are so ornate and flash so quickly they are often hard to read.
“The Green Knight” is an interesting tale of self-discovery. It’s certainly different, and perhaps a change of pace a thoughtful movie-goer will find refreshing. It’s important to just be aware of what the film is and is not before seeing it. If it sounds intriguing, gallop down to the Fridley Palms Theatre and check this one out!