The trailer for A24's upcoming adaptation of The Green Knight is here, and it's everything any epic fantasy fan could ask for.
The film is loosely based on the medieval alliterative verse poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an anonymous chivalric romance written in the West Midlands region of Britain at the end of the 14th century. Though the author's identity unknown, he is assumed to have been roughly a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland and wrote at least three other poems, all of a more religious bent, including Patience, Purity (also often called Cleanness), and Pearl. Unlike Gawain, these three offerings are much more overtly religious and base their stories on Biblical tales and allegories.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the best-known medieval Arthurian tales and incorporates famous folk motifs such as the beheading game and the exchange of winnings. From the look of the trailer, the film version is set to embrace the more bizarre aspects of the story, including an antagonist who is literally made of the green of the forest and who can not only survive having his head cut off but ride off with it afterward.
The story is meant to interrogate the loyalty and chivalry of Gawain, who has made a bargain to let the Green Knight deliver an equally deadly blow one year hence. Will he keep his word? Or try and undo the bargain he made?
Lowry's film version stars Dev Patel (The Personal Life of David Copperfield, Skins) as Gawain, with Ralph Ineson as the Green Knight, as well as Joel Edgerton, Alicia Vikander, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Erin Kellyman, and Barry Keoghan in supporting roles. The trailer is full of dark and rich fantasy imagery, the sort of rough strangeness that's often sanitized off of our modern-day understanding of all things Arthuriana. Here, the Green Knight is both alien and terrible and Gawain faces giants, talking foxes, and all manner of mystical and magical creatures on his journey.
The real Arthurian legends are much messier and more complicated than pop culture generally deigns to remember them as, but this film seems to be embracing everything that's contradictory and strange about this story and, as a result, the whole thing feels exciting and fresh.
The Green Knight was originally slated to premiere at last year's SXSW Film Festival and hit theaters in May 2020. The pandemic obviously upended those plans. After several additional delays and postponements, the movie is now slated to arrive on July 30 and it's not an exaggeration to say it's one of the most highly anticipated indie releases of the year.
The official synopsis describes the movie as follows.
An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur's reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.
The Green Knight will arrive in theaters on July 30.
What do you think of the look of this take on Sir Gawain? Let's discuss in the comments.