The Green Knight ★★★★
Starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Ralph Ineson
An Arthurian tale is something we would usually associate with flamboyant male leads and a side plot of romance, topped off with swashbuckling sword fights and a "happily ever after". Although lovely and fun to watch, those movies from the 80’s and 90’s put a sheen on the stories for an international audience. The real stories were perhaps less polished than what we are accustomed to on the silver screen, but they were rich with folklore, symbolism and ritual. It’s this side of our shared history that The Green Knight bravely tells.
The story tells of King Arthur’s nephew Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), who goes on a quest to confront the mysterious Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) who is known as the tester of men.
From start to finish this movie is vibrant and confident. There is symbolism at every turn and the pagan aspects deliberately stand out. The latest craze for paganism in horror movies helps this along a little as the story leans on unnerving ritualism to keep the audience guessing.
Dev Patel stands out above the rest in every aspect. No other actor could do this character the same justice and it’s exciting to watch his career develop. He can play innocence and battle-hardened simultaneously and with ease, so he is a joy to watch here.
The most interesting part of this movie is the way they have brought our history to life. At one moment I’m in awe of the storytelling and rugged scenery in front of me, the next I’m humming tunes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the absurdity of some of the plotlines make clear parallels to the classic comedy.
As the film has a dream like quality, there seemed a tendency to meander here and there which slowed things down a little. Although overall every scene was required, the second act does sag a little, but things pick up again after an unfortunate episode with a rag that I definitely didn’t need to see!
For just over two hours this film reminded me that we don’t have to be defined by Brexit, petrol pumps or the stiff upper lip, we can be defined as an island overgrown with history and stories and culture. Although not perfect, The Green Knight could and should be one of many films of its kind.
The Green Knight available now on Amazon Prime