The Green Knight (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) is a 2021 film directed by David Lowery. The director also oversaw the editing, production and script.
Known to the general public for his live action The invisible dragon, released by Disney in 2016, Lowery continues his partnership with the distribution company with this film A24 with which, in the past, he had signed Story of a ghost (2017), which among other things I recommend you see.
But let's get back to The Green Knight. The story takes inspiration and follows the story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an alliterative poem, written around the fourteenth century, which recovers the themes of Brittany Matter also known as Arthurian cycle.
Sir Gawain is the son of Morgause, one of King Arthur's two sisters, not to be confused with the better known sister Morgana. I find it necessary to underline the following information given the great confusion surrounding the Pendragon family, their links with the various kings scattered throughout Britain and the plethora of sons and stepchildren who are presented in the various stories.
The analysis of the film will examine some points of the film, so there are some SPOILER. If you have not yet seen the film, we invite you to view it and then, only later to read the analysis.
Read also: SIR MORDRED - A BAD AT ANY COST
The Hero's Journey in The Green Knight movie
Sir Gawain, played by Dav Patel, is the King's nephew, a dissolute young man who has always preferred the pleasures of earthly life to the glory of arms. On Christmas day, during the celebrations, around a set round table, the Green Knight makes his appearance at the court and offers a game (gomen in the written story). For the uninitiated, among the cornerstones of Germanic culture and literature, the concept of play and exchange of gifts are in fact considered real proofs of merit and courage.
The game in question is well known for those who know the story. The Green Knight would have given the same thing that had been given to him by the one who accepted the game. One year after the "gift", Sir Gawain sets out to face his destiny and the confirmation of the glory he has earned.
The journey in question shows a land conquered and devastated by war. All forms of chivalrous ideal are forgotten. There are no shining armor or shining swords. There is no positivism of a Camelot built as an example for humanity, just see how Arthur and Guinevere are represented! Here Camelot is nothing more than yet another strong kingdom that wages war on another to increase its power.
We find uprooted woods to make room for arable land. The local population is forced to move, exactly as happens in our reality today during the clashes of our intelligent wars.
And in all this real world, which has lost all its patina of epicity, we have a man, not realized, who embarks on his journey.
The concept of knight and that of man
Sir Gawain, or Galvano, or Gwalchmei is one of Arthur's most trusted knights and, in the story dedicated to him, he is considered the noblest of all those who sit at the Round Table. But if the knight Galvano sums up all the virtues of chivalry, the man Galvano by David Lowery has none. Remember the Code:
A knight is devoted to courage.Dragonheart 1996
His heart knows only virtue.
His sword defends the helpless.
His strength supports the weak.
His words only speak the truth.
His anger overthrows the wicked.
Every encounter and every test he comes across, and which represent one of the qualities that the knight should possess, man fails them. Yet unlike the Galvano knight, Sir Gawain does not fail the last meeting with the Green Knight. The only one that matters.
For those who know the story, Galvano overcomes the cut of the head because he keeps a green band around his waist that makes him immune to injuries. Sir Gawain, on the other hand, in the film, understands how simplistic and closed his vision of the world and life can be and for this reason he manages to put his head in the right place. He then decides to remove the artifact that protects him. This kind of magical object, or narrative device if you prefer, is very similar to one of the four magical objects possessed by Arthur. For the knight it is the sash, for King Arthur instead it is the scabbard of Excalibur that makes him impervious to weapons and wounds.
Will Sir Gawain actually lose his mind? We do not know, but I assume not. Perhaps it is precisely the act of accepting the sacrifice that will eventually broaden the horizons of his heart and mind, thus leading Camelot to his destiny.
Read also: DARK CAMELOT - ADVENTURERS SETTING!
Symbolism in the film
At a careful look, the film The Green Knight, is a film full of symbolism, pagan, Christian and chivalrous. Just as the story was to act as a crasis of the two worlds, the pagan and the Christian, this film also deals exactly with all the themes of the chivalrous genre.
We have the five-pointed star that identifies, in each of its apex, one of the values of chivalry, we have the death and resurrection of Christ in the Green Knight who dies on Christmas day. There is the occult and druidic magic of Gawain Morgause's mother, the fox symbol of cunning, the deer symbol of regeneration and vitality, the wild boar symbol of courage and energy. The ax, which the Knight gave to Gawain, represents the "cross" (obligations / destiny / life / decisions / see what you want to see, in short!) That Humanity is destined to carry. Or more than by fate we have chosen to bring.
And finally the green belt which, if in the story it would have become the symbol of dishonor, here instead is a sort of curse, embodied cowardice and excessive attachment to life, to material things. The act of undressing of this is making oneself ready to sacrifice it brings everything into the right dimension and puts "the head in the right place".
Conclusions on The Green Knight
This film, to be scrutinized, should be watched over and over again. At a first analysis we are not even able to scratch the surface of the work. This is why I took so long to write my personal considerations.
The Green Knight it's the kind of movie you don't expect. I am more and more amazed, over the years, at how much today's directors dare in their cinematography. This year I was impressed by The Lighthouse by Roger Eggers and now I was blown away by The Green Knight, from its colors that turn to acid, children of a never forgotten David Lynch (of which we invite you to see again at the Mulholland Drive cinema which is returning these days).
It's a complicated film, where if you don't pay attention to every detail you get lost. You get lost and discouraged, a bit like when you saw the anime Alexander many years ago.
So, arm yourself with patience and face yours too The Green Knight!