We often associate the fantasy genre with epic big-budget ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies. How to represent dream settings, hordes of enemies and larger-than-life adventures if not with ease of means? ‘The Green Knight’ Proves It Can Be Done With Limited Resources And yet, in this case they lead to one of the most stimulating fantasy proposals of the year, a cataract of disturbing imagination that arrives exclusively a Amazon Prime Video.
‘The Green Knight’ starts, like any good adventure and fantasy film, from a recognized and respectable source: ‘Sir Gawain And The Green Knight’, an anonymous 14th century poem in medieval English which has been reformulated and reinterpreted countless times (Tolkien himself, for example, translated it into modern English). David Lowery, director of the also magnificent ‘A Ghost Story’ and the modern version of ‘Peter and the dragon’, makes it a kind of intimate hero’s journey, but does not lose the epic along the way.
We will meet Gawain, a not yet consecrated knight of the court of King Arthur (in fact, it is not clear if the title refers to the protagonist or his fantastic nemesis) who accepts a challenge that is too big for him: that of an imposing fantastic creature that arrives at the Court offering any knight who wants the chance to attack him as you wish. A year later, that gentleman will have to seek him out and allow him to strike back.
Gawain (played by a Dev Patel who is all fear, doubt and ambition) cuts off his head. A year later he will be forced to search for his enemy in an adventure that is a kind of journey of the inner hero. and that will allow him to travel through fantastic and twisted scenarios in search of a destiny that is elusive, up to a Shakespearean and dark final stretch of the story that we will not tell here but that Lowery tells almost without words, initiating his narrative talent.
Off with his head
On his way, Gawain will stumble upon senseless wars, piles of corpses, ghoulish robbers, witches and lovers played by an Alicia Vikander reformulating the female roles of these classic stories, talking animals that connect ‘The Green Knight’ in an unsuspected way with Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ … and in one of the most captivating sequences of the film, a herd of imposing creatures whose existence may or may not be the fruit of a hasty ingestion of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
All is photographed by Andrew Droz Palermo in natural Irish woodland settings (The film also uses court spaces that were seen, paradoxically, in ‘Excalibur’) that certify that good taste and not millionaire budgets is the only thing that is needed to propel a good fantasy film. The scenarios, as natural as they are dreamlike, almost typical of an animated film, are undoubtedly one of the assets to turn ‘The Green Knight’ into one of the fantastic proposals of the year.
‘The Green Knight’ does not offer incessant action or epic battles (except the most epic of all: remorse, maturation to blows and the bumps of life), but its firm commitment to symbolic visions and the macabre and pessimistic reinterpretation of classical mythology makes Lowery’s proposal essential. Bucolic prints that seem out of another world and characters that connect ‘La Cosa del Pantano’ with Anglo-Saxon history are to blame.
‘The Green Knight’ has all the hallmarks of A24 -producer from which authors as stimulating as Ari Aster or Robert Eggers have sprung-: its aesthetic preciousness and macabre brand of the house, also responsible for the film often adopting horror movie modes symbolic and full of images to remember. In any case, one of the dark fantasies of the year and an essential piece for the Prime Video catalog.