There are a few subjects that get done to death in cinema. I’ve sat through exhausting amounts of adaptations for Robin Hood, Peter Pan, and every Shakespeare play imaginable. I get a wave of nausea and exhaustion every time I see there’s a new version of one of these tales (the upcoming Benh Zeitlin film Wendy aside because it looks awesome), and while I appreciate that each update reaches a new generation I can’t help but feel that we’ve culturally worn out these landmark stories. We can argue over which version of Macbeth is the best (I’m fond of Akira Kurosawa’s) or whether or not we’ve burnt ourselves out on The Planet of the Apes, but in the end it all comes down to “do we need this.”
I’ll fight anyone who says we don’t need more Arthurian Legends films.
When I was a child my parents bought me a book about these stories. It was aimed at kids but held nothing back, reveling in the darkness and death and mysticism of Arthurian Legend while boiling Le Morte D’Arthur down into something that was at a kid’s reading level. I ate it up, reading about bastard children and affairs and romantic magic that ensnared the minds of everyone here and there. Stories of the witch, Morgan LeFay, and of the traitorous son Mordred grabbed hold of my brain and made me long for days of swords and armor. My love for Star Wars lore, stories about Jedi Knights and codes and all that shit, certainly pushed me forward on this path. I dug the weird look at the world we’d left behind, this otherspace where the most powerful person in the world was a woman living underwater and the second was a curmudgeonly wizard. Television and film only fueled these, with movies like The Sword in the Stone (1963) or First Knight (1995) being key parts of my youth and television shows like Merlin (1998) being part of my adolescence. I even went back for King Arthur (2004), a film that claimed to be more historically accurate and came under fire for being anything BUT accurate (who cares, that movie’s awesome). I eat this stuff up, always hopeful and ready for more.
My favorite story, however, has always been Sir Gawain & the Green Knight.
Chivalry, knightly honor, romance, and also just…a ton of gore. Sir Gawain & the Green Knight is a tale of betrayal, survival, and some devilish trickery that I read over and over as a child. If you haven’t checked it out J.R.R. Tolkien has a wonderful translation of the poem that’ll knock your socks off. The character of Gawain and the legacy of the Arthurian Legend was acknowledged when Kazuo Ishiguro came back in 2015 with his novel The Buried Giant, using the chivalrous knight to discuss what the legacy of war and vicious honor can mean to the world at large.
Why do I discuss all of this? Well…because we’re getting a new adaptation of my favorite Arthurian story from the wonderful director and mustached badass David Lowery. His previous works, things like Pete’s Dragon and A Ghost Story, have a beautiful melancholy that contemplates human meaning among our own day-today. The new film, The Green Knight, is not one of these. This thing looks like a freaky, artistic, heavy-metal cover version of the story I grew up with and I am SO into it. Nothing held back, we’re seeing brutally creepy visuals and weird, surrealistic imagery. I’m psyched. Take a look!
Does that not look every kind of cool? I’m so extremely excited for this and I can’t wait till it drops! We’ve got burning head stuff, Dev Patel lookin’ like a snack, a giant of some sort, and a tree-man! The giant is actually my favorite part of the trailer, as there’s a whole section of the original poem and story that basically says “some cool shit happened here but you don’t need to read about that, let’s just get to the main point.” I’m excited to see that cool shit!
Anyone else really excited about this? Are you into David Lowery or are you new to his particular tastes?