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David Lowery is the director, writer, editor, and producer of The Green Knight, an epic medieval fantasy movie based on the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight poem from the fourteenth century. In the movie, Dev Patel plays Gawain, who embarks on a quest to bolster his bravery and confront the Green Knight. Ralph Ineson, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Joel Edgerton, and Alicia Vikander also appear in it.
On July 30, 2021, A24 premiered The Green Knight in theatres around the country. For its photography, music, performances (especially Patel’s), production values, and Lowery’s inventiveness, direction, and writing, the movie won praise from critics. Despite having a $15 million budget, it made over $19 million in revenue.
Essel, his brothel lover, wakes Gawain on Christmas morning. His mother chastises him at the king’s court. Gawain joins his uncle, the king, at the Round Table feast. In a tower, Gawain’s mother summons the Green Knight with sorcery. He storms into the king’s court and declares that any knight who hits him will get his green axe but must travel to the Green Chapel and receive an equivalent blow on Christmas. Gawain accepts. Gawain decapitates the knight with the king’s sword after he surrenders. The knight rises, retrieves his head, and rides away.
Gawain celebrates all year; the king reminds him to fulfil his challenge. Gawain rides to the Green Chapel with his mother’s green girdle and axe. She claims he will be safe as long as he wears it. He meets a scavenger youngster on a battlefield full with dead fighters. The lad guides Gawain to the Green Chapel’s stream and requests payment. Gawain tosses a coin. The child and two others then ambush Gawain and steal the axe, girdle, and horse, tying him up. He crawls to his sword and cuts the chains restraining his hands before pursuing them. Gawain sleeps in an abandoned cottage’s bed at night. Winifred, a young woman, awakens him to retrieve something she misplaced from a nearby spring. He is refused a return. He reunites her skull with her skeletal remains and finds the axe the next morning.
Gawain’s fox travels with him. Gawain stays at a castle owned by a Lord who tells him the Green Chapel is nearby. Essel-like, Gawain’s woman seduces him. The Lord exchanges his hunt prize for Gawain’s castle prize. The next morning, the Lady gives Gawain the green girdle she created herself in exchange for his consent. Gawain escapes and kisses the Lord in the wilderness. Gawain doesn’t offer the girdle after the Lord releases Gawain’s fox. Gawain arrives to a boat-filled stream. The fox begs Gawain to return. Gawain chases the fox and sails to the church, where the Knight is hibernating. Gawain waits overnight, and the Green Knight awakens on Christmas morning.
Gawain flinches at the Green Knight’s axe. The Knight scolds. Gawain kneels again but scrambles away. After his uncle’s death, he fantasises about becoming king. Gawain abandons Essel, takes his son, and marries a noblewoman in his fantasy. His son died fighting. Gawain later became a hated ruler. After his family abandons him and his castle is besieged, he takes off the green girdle he had worn since regaining it from the Lady and collapses to the ground, crown in hand.
Gawain kneels and removes the girdle in the Green Chapel, telling the Knight he is ready. “Now, off with your head,” the Knight adds, praising Gawain’s bravery.
A young girl puts the crown on her head in an after-credits sequence.
The Cast And The Characters
- As Sir Gawain, Dev Patel
- Alicia Vikander plays the Lady and Essel.
- Sean Harris as the King, Ralph Ineson as the Green Knight, and Joel Edgerton as the Lord
- The Scavenger is Barry Keoghan.
- Winifred, played by Erin Kellyman
- Kate Dickie as the monarch
- The Youngest Sister is Atheena Frizzell
- Sister-in-law Nita Mishra
- Middle Sister Tara McDonagh
- The Sightless Woman played by Helena Browne
- Young Queen Gawain is played by Megan Tiernan.
- Magician Emmet O’Brien
The Green Knight was once slated to make its global premiere on March 16, 2020, at the South by Southwest film festival (SXSW), and a full theatrical release on May 29, 2020. However, the COVID-19 epidemic forced the cancellation of SXSW and the widespread closing of movie theatres around the world. Some studios chose to release their new films via video on demand because there was no set date for when theatres might reopen (VOD). Although Lowery stated in interviews with the A24 Project podcast and IndieWire that he would like for The Green Knight to be released in theatres, he acknowledged that he had no influence over whether or not it will debut on VOD.
Later, Lowery admitted that he wouldn’t have been happy with the version of The Green Knight that was slated to premiere at SXSW and that he spent six months throughout the pandemic re-editing the movie into a version he could be comfortable with. The Green Knight will only be released theatrically and will debut in US theatres on July 30, 2021, according to an announcement made by A24 in December 2020. In the US, there was just one streaming video option: The A24 Screening Room. For $20, viewers could see The Green Knight online along with an additional Q&A with the cast and crew on August 18 during a four-hour window of their choosing. Even though everything went according to plan for the US release, Entertainment Film Distributors made the decision to pull The Green Knight from UK theatres two weeks ahead of its scheduled theatrical release on August 6. They did this due to an increase in COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant. After careful consideration, Entertainment decided to distribute The Green Knight on September 24 in the UK both in theatres and on Amazon Prime Video.
The Green Knight made $17.2 million in revenue in the US and Canada, $2.8 million in other countries, and $20 million globally.
Along with Jungle Cruise and Stillwater, The Green Knight was distributed in North America, with an estimated opening weekend gross of $4 million from 2,790 cinemas. On its opening day, the movie brought in $2.9 million, including $750,000 from Thursday night previews. After opening at $6.8 million, it marginally outperformed expectations and came in second place to Jungle Cruise. Large markets including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco were where the movie did the best business. The movie earned $1.6 million in its third weekend after falling 62% to $2.6 million in its second weekend, when it came in sixth.
The movie has an 89% approval rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, based on 322 reviews with an average rating of 8/10. The Green Knight celebrates and deconstructs its source material in equal measure, creating an engaging adventure that creates a fantasy spell, according to the site’s reviews. With a weighted average rating of 85 points out of 100 based on 49 reviews, the movie received “universal acclaim” according to Metacritic. On a scale from A+ to F, viewers surveyed by CinemaScore gave the movie an average grade of “C+.”
The movie, according to Alison Willmore in a Vulture article, “is about someone who keeps waiting for external forces to turn him into the gallant, heroic figure he believes he should be,” and it also contains a timeless lesson: no matter how far you go, you’ll never be able to leave yourself behind. The movie received a score of 4 out of 4 stars from Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com, who called it “one of the most memorable films of the year, a fascinating swirl of masculinity, temptation, heroism, and religion.” Tallerico also said that the movie “embeds the concept of storytelling and performance into its narrative while also weaving its own enchanting spell on audiences.” The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz commended Dev Patel’s portrayal of Gawain and called the movie “a gorgeous, eerie and enigmatic work that contends with the folklore’s grave and tragic components to offer a masterwork of blood, sex, and magic.” The movie received a perfect score of five stars from Empire’s John Nugent, who called it “a rivetingly weird and exceptionally beautiful fantasy film that offers no easy answers but ponders the biggest questions” and said it was a “Revisionist Fantasy, doing for the genre what the likes of Robert Altman or Alejandro Jodorowsky did with his Revisionist Westerns: bringing an avant-garde flair and an ambiguous morality to a previously occasionally cheesy and child
As “a self-consciously revisionist take on Camelot lore,” Keith Watson of Slant Magazine gave the movie 2.5 out of 4 stars and stated that it “smooths out the enduring mysteries, opaque psychology, and narrative idiosyncrasies of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, resulting in a work that’s only superficially more daring and enigmatic than its source material.” While The Green Knight has a lot of admirable bravado and intriguing longing, the film is never as interesting as it is engaging, according to Simon Abrams of TheWrap.
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