Movie Review: The Green Knight

By: Danielle Lane  |  September 23, 2021

By Danielle Lane, Managing Editor

In David Lowery’s 2021 cinematic remake of the late 14th-century chivalric tale of heroism and romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Lowery faithfully retells while gracefully modernizing the classic story. While Lowery shortened the title to The Green Knight, he did not shorten the story by much. Originally an anonymous poem Lowery tells the famous story through beautifully filmed and edited vignets. Each scene features vivid color, imagery, and language as Camelot’s King Arthur sends his nephew, Gawain, through the wilderness to the Green Knight to complete the task set before him. 

The story begins on Christmas and details the preparation and voyage of Gawain as he sets out to meet the Green Knight. Told over the course of a year, the Green Knight first visits King Aurthur’s Christmas table and asks if he has a man who wishes to compete in a game. When Gawain accepts he is told that he may make one strike to the Green Knight and then in exactly a year Gawain must come find the Green Knight who will then return the same strike to Gawain. Thinking he can outsmart the Knight, Gawain cuts off the Knight’s head but  the Knight rides away on his horse, head literally in hand. Leaving behind his axe which Gawain is to use on the Green Knight when they meet in one year.

After a year of preparation Gawain sets off on his journey layed down with both physical necessities as well as the magic protection from his mother. Along his journey he is met with many trials and tribulations: from robbers in the woods who steal everything from him and leave him for dead to women who seduce him only for him to find out they have been dead for a year. The forests of Camelot are filled with dark magic which Gawain must confront on his way to almost assured death as he does not possess the same powers as the Knight.  

After weeks of travel and countless memorable encounters, Gawain finally reaches the Green Knight’s castle where he presents the Knight with his axe. When the Knight raises the axe to strike Gawain’s neck, Gawain runs away to Camelot where he is greeted as a champion and made king upon the death of his uncle. The movie then flashes back to the Green Knight’s castle where Gawain remains kneeling before the Knight ready to take his blow. The movie ends with the Knight cutting off Gawain’s head.

Through the many twists and turns of the movie the one thing that remains constant is the remarkable talent of the cast. Dev Patel who plays Gawain yet again shows his unbelievable range as an actor as he takes on the role of a 14th-century knight. Each cast member commits to the role to the point that it is nearly impossible to imagine them outside David Lowery’s fantasy world.

The movie, which grossed about $17 million in the box office has a 2 hour and 5 minute run time. It received a 88% approval rating according to the movie rating system on Rotten Tomatoes and a 49% audience rating.