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The Green Knight

David Lowery (GHOST STORY) has taken on the strange epic “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight“ and has turned it into an even stranger, hypnotic film that is visually reminiscent of German expressionism and the films of Carl Theodor Dreyer.


There hasn‘t been a serious film about the King Arthur saga since John Boorman‘s EXCALIBUR (1981) 40 years ago. There have only been a few action films like Guy Ritchie‘s KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD. David Lowery, who made A GHOST STORY, one of the most fascinating films in recent years, has adapted the 14th century epic poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.“ Those expecting a taut, heroic fantasy adventure film will be rather disappointed by THE GREEN KNIGHT, it‘s too weird and morbid for that.

The legend of the Green Knight is an initiation story and originally it was relatively simple: young Gawain hasn‘t experienced an adventure yet. As an initiation into knighthood, he is challenged to go up against the huge green knight who suddenly appears at the round table. Gawain can strike Arthur‘s sword Excalibur once, and one year later the Green Knight will return the same strike in the “Green Chapel.“ Gawain beheads the knight. The Green Knight puts his head back on, reminds him of the conditions, and retreats. One year later Gawain heads out to find the Green Chapel and has many adventures along the way.

In Lowery‘s adaptation the adventure turns into a spiritual journey that can only end in destruction, which it does many times. Gawain (Dev Patel) is attacked by robbers (or are they evil supernatural creatures?) and dies in shackles in the forest. The camera spins around, with more and more green entering the image, and the corpse of Gawain is revived and he frees himself. His weapons, a sword and an ax, had disappeared, and now they magically reappear. Maybe the entire adventure is just an illusion, conjured up by Gawain‘s mother, who is inspired by the figure of Morgana le Fey – who also appears as another character. Lowery doesn‘t seem to believe in any form of “chivalry“. Numerous magical and Christian symbols appear, but for Gawain, who becomes the heir to the King in some versions of the Arthur legend, all of the outcomes of this adventure are a catastrophe. In powerful images, referencing German expressionism and the pre-Raphaelite paintings, Lowery has concocted a panorama of 14th century dreams.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


USA/Irland 2020, 125 min
Language: English
Genre: Fantasy
Director: David Lowery
Author: David Lowery
DOP: Andrew Droz Palermo
Music: Daniel Hart
Distributor: Telepool
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Sarita Choudhury
FSK: 16
Release: 29.07.2021




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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