A dark visit to Camelot
For many of us around the world, we are now a good few months into the new normal that is self-isolation. While it has granted us some things, like an abundance of free time and an excuse to drink during the week, it has also taken so much away: seeing friends, graduation, any form of social life, and for me and other movie buffs, the opportunity to see some of the years hottest cinematic releases in front of the silver screen; and while some movies have been sent straight to online release, others have either been delayed, or face cinematic limbo. As such, its had me thinking about what films I'd be going to see right now, and one that has stayed on my radar is The Green Knight.
For those of you who don't know what The Green Knight is, I've got you covered. The Green Knight is an adaptation of the old Arthurian legend of the same name, in which a knight of King Arthurs round table accepts an unsettling and daunting challenge. The story goes that during Christmas celebrations in King Arthurs court, a monstrous green figure, who was terrifyingly large in size (the Green Knight himself), entered Arthurs court and issued Arthur and the knights of the round table a fairly obscure challenge. He challenged any man in the court to strike him once, on the condition that in a years time he would return the strike to them. Upon completion they would receive the Green Knights axe. After nearly all the knights cower from the challenge, Arthur himself accepts, however is then interrupted by his nephew and youngest knight of the round table, Sir Gawain, who offers to face the challenge instead. Arthur grants his nephew's wish, and with the green Knights axe he cleaves off the knights head. This, despite all logic, doesn't kill the Green Knight, instead his headless body picks up his now severed head, reminds Gawain of the date they are to meet, the location of their meeting, and then promptly rides off. This then leads Gawain on a journey where he seeks to prove himself as a man and a knight. Its not a bad story, after all I'm sure nearly everyone grey up with the children's stories of the sword in the stone and the wizard Merlin, so to see another tale from Camelot adapted for the big screen is exciting, in a way. However, if previous book/story adaptations in the media industry are anything to go by, the movie will more than definitely deviate a little from the source material, and perhaps provide its own unique spin or interpretation.
The movies first trailer reinforces this, giving us our first look at the film, and showing that this take on the tale will be quite ominous and slightly unsettling. The trailer opens with Gawain (played by actor Dev Patel) sitting posed in a chair, clad in a golden robe and holding a scepter and what appears to be some form of religious/royal artifact. The scene is very artistic in aesthetic, and hints that this film won't be a run of the mill fantasy epic, but something special and different. During this, a crown descends upon Gawain's head before the lights go out and Gawain is set ablaze. If this image wasn't sinister enough, the scene, and the rest of the trailer for that matter, is accompanied by an eerie and static like backtrack; adding to the notion that there is some horror in store for us. We are then met with a puppet show which depicts the premise of Gawain's quest; a puppet holds an axe and a circular panel begins to move through the seasons, representing, of course, that a year is passing. Cut to a shot of Gawain standing before what I imagine to be King Arthur and his queen, Guinevere, telling them that he has no stories to tell of himself, only for the queen to respond, "not yet." what follows is several more shots cutting back and forth from the puppet show, to segments of Gawain embarking on his journey (a journey that doesn't look like it'll be too much fun for poor Gawain). In one shot in particular, we see Gawain on a mountainside, the air shrouded in fog, and then a hand, nearly the size of the mountain itself, appearing to hoist up whatever it belongs to. The trailer then ends with puppet Gawain getting beheaded by the puppet of the Green Knight, followed by actual Gawain facing down the monstrous tree-like Green Knight, brandishing his large axe. All in all its a badass, all be it unsettling trailer, and one that has kept this movie on my mind. I think its pretty clear from the trailer that this won't be a PG-13, instead leaning towards a more gritty take on the old tale, with some horror elements thrown in. If the music didn't make that obvious, the dull, drab colour palette and emphasis on fear and courage in the trailer did.
The movie boasts a fairly good cast too, featuring one of my personal favourites, Dev Patel as protagonist Gawain, Sean Harris as King Arthur, Joel Edgerton, Alicia Vikander, Erin Kellyman, Kate Dickie, and Game of Thrones' own, Ralph Ineson playing the monstrous Green Knight himself. You probably know Dev Patel from his first acting role in series Skins, as well as Slumdog Millionaire, and his Oscar nominated film, Lion from 2016. Joel Edgerton is also another big name, known for playing many roles in small and big budgets productions, icluding, Star Wars, Warrior, Bright and The Great Gatsby. Its a good cast, with many notable names in there, and one of the many reasons I remain hyped for this movie; and a reason you should be too.
The movie is being produced by company A24, and is written and directed by David Lowry. A24 is responsible for such films as, Midsommar, Lady Bird, The Lighthouse and Uncut Gems to name a few; so as far as quality and experience goes, they've got plenty of notches on their belt. Director David Lowry is a relatively new director on the movie scene, though not without his merits. The Texan director has helmed many different projects, most notably, western romance drama Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Disney's Pete's Dragon, and the deep and thought provoking A Ghost Story; all of which received high praise. Thus, The Green Knight has a fair amount of pedigree behind it, enough for me to say that it's in safe hands.
The Green Knight was scheduled to release this year, however, with the current global pandemic, it, among many other movies, has a yet to be determined release date, so fingers crossed we'll get to see this soon.
If you hadn't heard of this movie before then I hope its one you've now added to your list, and for those who wanted to know more about it, I hope you've learned something and have gotten even more hyped for this film. For me, it looks to be one of the most promising films of the year, and with a good cast, plot and director behind it, I'm almost certain it won't fail to deliver.