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The Green Knight (2021) Review: Dev Patel Dazzles and Decapitates

A24 depicts the Arthonian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with a strikingly bold take on the fantasy genre.

The interpretation of the 14th-century poem, which has no true author to cite for its creation, is a carefully crafted character study on Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) and follows him on his quest to seek out the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) after being challenged to face him exactly one year after striking him down on Christmas Day. While the legend has been translated by J. R. R. Tolkien through literary means before, writer-director David Lowery is sure to twist the story into something of his own.


The Green Knight (2021) finds its intensity through suspense in exchange for high volumes of action. One would expect incredibly sized battles brimmed with glory and victory, yet instead, there is the element of unease buried in a leisurely pace as Gawain musters his courage to face his fate. Crossing paths with merciless scavengers, lost spirits, rolling heads, and the unsettling reality of his destiny coming into view, each chapter of Gawain's sinister cross-England traverse to reach the Green Chapel becomes eerier and eerier.

Lush and atmospheric, every shot of the fantasy piece is breathtaking and can be simply defined as "beautiful." Just as one scene is almost too stunning to be true, the cinematography is on a journey of its own to outperform itself. Rolling hills rival lonely mountainsides; noble woodlands meet their ends with marshes blanketed with thick fog. Practical and visual effects are spectacular at every chance that they're given to be used. The film can be acclaimed to be an artistic achievement as well as the studio's most elegantly haunting release.

Patel is emotive, expressive, and effortlessly charming. His iteration of the Round Table knight flourishes as he's to test his bravery against the consequences of his eager boldness. He promises that Gawain is to be seen as one of King Arthur's Knights and to be recognized as an equal among his peers. Gawain is asked to discover who he truly is through the most fantastical of circumstances. Patel drives his character forward beyond the limits of proving himself to be more than just a good Sir.

There is no skirting around the Catholic symbolism set on display throughout the heroic myth. The nods to theology are not as subtle as they may have been intended to be, and while The Green Knight may seem to leave its joyfulness behind, it finds room to allude to Gawain as Jesus Christ in more than one way. It's an unexpected allegory that adds another layer to intensate the chilling expedition through its wonders and woes. It's no coincidence that Gawain, bearing with him the Green Knight's axe, spits such imagery of Christ carrying his cross.


The retelling of Welsh lore marries the core draw of the fantasy genre with themes of religion, morality, and chivalry in a grand epic hoping to soothe the burns left behind by Game of Thrones.

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