By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
Even though this film is based upon an Arthurian tale, it is very much an interpretation and adaptation by filmmaker David Lowery. The film director has taken this story and given it a truly incredible and artistic realization that feels very modern and timely, despite the story’s setting. This is most definitely a film that audiences will either despise or absolutely love. And as one can already tell, I certainly fall into the latter category. The Green Knight is a remarkable achievement of cinema that transcends its source material in some amazing ways without changing too much or deviating from some of the central themes, while subverting others.
Dev Patel stars as Sir Gawain, the ambitious nephew of King Arthur (Sean Harris) who steps up to bizarre challenge that others fearfully refrained from undertaking. During a Christmas celebration at Camelot, a mysterious Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) crashes the party and proposes a strange game to the attendees. The seemingly plant-based creature offers anyone his axe with which they may behead him; however, the Knight may also return the blow to the attacker in exactly one year in his castle. Eager to prove his courage and worth to his uncle, Sir Gawain takes the knight’s axe and does exactly what is asked of him. At first the Green Knight appears dead; however, the strange creature rises, picks up his head, and reminds Gawain that he must allow him to return the favor in a year.
Based on the anonymously written poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, writer/director David Lowery has made an excellent movie adaptation that takes the Arthurian story and launches it into art film territory. Lowery has such an amazing mind that realizes this tale with much artistry and tremendous skill. The film is very much a visual experience that will probably bewilder some people, but will amaze others. The result is an absolutely gorgeous film that offers a surreal and dreamlike journey, but with a slight satirical angle to its proceedings.
Praise must be given to the beautiful cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo, who obivously knows what Lowery wants to present through this film. Lowery also has an incredibly talented crew whose work in the production design and effects bring this remarkable movie to life. The sublime music by Daniel Hart adds the finishing touches to what is very much an aethetically beautiful experience.
I have nothing at all bad to say about this movie’s exceptional cast who bring the necessary flesh and blood to this cinematic work of art. In addition to the fantastic performance by Dev Patel, I have much love for the work by Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, and Erin Kellyman. Everyone in this film performs their roles exceptionally and appropriately for the style and tone of the overall experience.
And I can honestly say that this experience is not at all like any other film I have watched this year. This is a movie I can probably watch over and over and appreciate something new each time. I say this because all of the details here are densely layered and difficult to behold and appreciate in just one sitting. I feel this is a film that the late Stanley Kubrick would appreciate and probably would’ve made if he were so inclined. That said, I am glad he didn’t because it probably would not have had the same exact impact that David Lowery’s The Green Knight has and that is already a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t change for the world.