by Nigel Watson
The Green Knight, a powerful creature of the forest, is summoned by a magical spell cast by Morgan le Fay to the castled kingdom of Camelot at Christmas. The knight appears and challenges anyone in the kingdom brave enough to tackle him and accept his conditions for the fight.
The feckless and unprepared Gawain (Dev Patel), nephew of King Arthur (Sean Harris) and son of le Fay (Sarita Choudhury), agrees to the challenge even though he does not even own a sword and his rival carries a huge and very deadly looking battle axe.
It is the stuff of nightmares, and Gawain looks highly unlikely to win even with the aid of the mighty Excalibur sword that King Arthur helpfully hands over to him. After the one-sided battle, Gawain has to visit the Green Knight the following Christmas. A puppet show for the kids of Camelot neatly depicts the fight between Gawain and the Green Knight and predicts what might happen in their next battle.
The planned rematch soon comes round and Gawain takes the long journey beyond the safety of Camelot to the Green Chapel where the knight awaits him. Through moor and forest Gawain encounters all manner of obstacles both real and of a magical nature. He faces death literally and metaphorically at nearly every turn.
Gawain is humbled against all these forces and fights to to be honourable and brave in order to be a worthy knight of the round table. He is depicted sleeping or unconscious through exhaustion, and he has to literally rise and wake-up to the challenges that are initiated by his mother’s spell. He is also beset by visions including the deathly figure of Saint Winifred (Erin Kellyman) at an abandoned cottage, and later Gawain sees what might happen in the future if he does not honour his agreement with the Green Knight.
Directed, written and edited by David Lowery, it is his re-imaging of the 14th-century poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ that encompasses the spirit of such films as ‘Excalibur’, ‘Willow’ and even has a touch of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ about it, using elements of Arthurian legend and myth passed on through the mists of time.
The wonderful cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo captures the eerie and fantastic mood of the story, with some stunning images of Gawain lost in this landscape of hope and despair. This combined with the music by Daniel Hart, turns this epic story into the equivalent of a cinematic poem that takes us deep into the realm of Arthurian fantasy and romance.
The Green Knight is showing at Plymouth Arts Cinema until Wednesday 10 November. For tickets and information, visit https://plymouthartscinema.org/whats-on/the-green-knight-15/