The Green Knight proves there's still room for creativity in the fantasy genre


By Jasper Price, Theatre, Third Year

A timeless story brought to new heights by David Lowery’s unrivalled cinematic eye, The Green Knight (2021) invites its audience on a meander through myth and legend, with just a hint of modern wit and elegance thrown in for good measure.

Over the last ten years, A24 have dominated a very niche but heavily growing genre; the indie horror. With films like Midsommer (2019) and Hereditary (2018), the studio push the boundaries of “weirdness” and often seek to be as confusing and convoluted as possible, either for real artistic means or just to give hipsters an excuse to discuss their visual choices over an oat latte.

Courtesy of A24/IMDB

And so, they return with The Green Knight, an adaptation of the 14th century epic poem; ‘sir Gawain and the green knight’, in which a young boy is challenged to a game by a mythological being. He loses this game, and must go on a quest to find the elusive green knight, and finish the wager.

It feels as though the film has sprung up out of the earth, moss covered and hazy, with no Hollywood dressing to be seen

Where to begin? Well for those seeking epic battle scenes, swashbuckling adventure and likeable characters, I suggest journeying on to another film. David Lowery here presents us with a nuanced fantasy; dark and harrowing. Dev Patel shines in the role of Gawain, a wayward young knight who feels inadequate amongst the other legends at court. Patel’s acting is very strong here, particularly in his moments of sombre revelation.

Courtesy of A24/IMDB

Alicia Vikander holds her own as the unnamed Essel, who although in love with Gawain, mocks him sparingly throughout. Other supporting roles of note were King Arthur (Sean Harris), who plays the almost mythological character with a certain dignified subtlety. In fact, all the characters display a kind of confusion. As though they are as perplexed by the world that Lowery creates as the audience are. In all cases though, the acting is strong, and each character brings their own piece of the story.

Like the characters, the filmmaking also feels muddled to some extent, but not through fault. This is intentional corruption. Frequently the camera lingers for a few seconds too long, creating eerie visages. The colour palate, whose sickly greens and yellows let us know that this is indeed a fantasy is one that is decayed.

Courtesy of A24/IMDB

It feels as though the film has sprung up out of the earth, moss covered and hazy, with no Hollywood dressing to be seen. Daniel Hart’s score is reserved and elusive for the most part but can bubble up to a frenzy at critical moments.

There is a clear appreciation for the source text. References to old English folk and tradition can be seen throughout. It is a story steeped in myth, that could have so easily been led astray in the hands of the wrong director. Under Lowery however, the quest for decent fantasy storytelling may be over.

Featured Image: IMDB

Do you think Dev Patel put up a good fight in The Green Knight?