Copyright, A24 Films LLC
Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

The Green Knight

also known as “A Lenda do Cavaleiro Verde,” “Le chevalier vert,” “O cavaleiro verde,” “Žaliasis riteris,” “Zelený rytier,” “Zelený rytíř,” “Ο Πράσινος Ιππότης,” “Зелени витез,” “Легенда о зелёном рыцаре”
MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for violence, some sexuality and graphic nudity.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Fantasy Romance Drama
Length:
2 hr. 5 min.
Year of Release:
2021
USA Release:
July 30, 2021 (wide release)
DVD: October 12, 2021
Copyright, A24 Films LLCclick photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues

King Arthur legends—knights of the round table

Fantasy re-telling of a medieval fictional story

Sir Gawain (King Arthur’s nephew) and the Green Knight—gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men

Coming-of-age stories

Reckless and headstrong people

A knight who goes on a quest which tests his prowess

Testing by temptation a person’s true character

Sexual seduction

About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Is it just “bad people” that are sinners, or are YOU a sinner? Answer

Ghosts

What does the Bible say about ghosts?

About death

Nude female giants

Giants in the Bible

Thieves

Schemers

Featuring Dev PatelGawain
Alicia VikanderEssel / The Lady
Ralph InesonGreen Knight
Joel Edgerton The Lord
Erin KellymanWinifred
Sean HarrisKing
Anaïs Rizzo (Anais Rizzo) … Helen
Joe Anderson … Paris
Noelle Brown … Madam
See all »
Director David Lowery
Producer Jason Cloth
Chris Debiec
See all »
Distributor Distributor: A24. Trademark logo.
A24 Films LLC
Copyrighted, A24 Films LLC

Come! Come gather round and hear the tale of Sir Gawain, cousin of the beloved and magnificent King Arthur. Gawain lives in the shadow of his uncle and aunt, feeling he brings great shame upon his family even being given a place of honor at a place at the Round Table, considering he, himself, is not a knight. The King assures Gaiwan that though he does not know him fully he does love him for his humility, and that his tale is just beginning.

But hark! The conversation abruptly comes to an end upon the entrance of a ghastly creature who proclaims himself the Green Knight. “Whoever shall strike me, be it by sword or other means [and I doth paraphrase here] and be able to take the axe out of my hand, must come to Green Chapel Hill one year hence where I shall strike thee down. Will no one take on my challenge?” No, not one brave knight cometh forth. However, out of the shadows draws forth a sound, so small from Sir Gaiwan, “I shall challenge thee!”.

With a deadly blow, the mighty Gaiwan beheads the dreadful Green Knight. But alas, the Green Knight rises from the dead and the talking head states, “One….year… hence,” riding forth into the night.

Countless tales and films have been made based on the life and legacies of King Arthur and his court. We’ve had animated films like “The Quest for Camelot,” a couple of the Shrek movies, and of course the classic Disney film “The Sword in the Stone.” We’ve had the typical adventure films and then of course we’ve had the comedic variations that may not have been focused ON King Arthur but were about his kingdom such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” If something is popular business people tend to focus and expand upon it.

However, there are those moments where some stories should just be left well enough alone. In my opinion, the tale of Gaiwan and the Green Knight is one of them, or at least this telling of it. This film is littered with heavy sex, graphic nudity, lust, mysticism and pure evil. At one point during the film I sat there and said to myself, “Father, forgive me for what I have just watched.”

The film’s main message seems to be “what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?” (I’ll talk more about this with regards to how it applies to Christians later.) As I sat pondering that message, reviewing the film, I wondered if that’s what the actors and actresses would want this film to be… a part of THEIR legacy—to define their legacy. Sure, perhaps this is a “small name film,” but it will still be found now and for years to come. Like your profile on Facebook or the stuff you post on Instagram, it necessarlily doesn’t disappear easily.

What kind of content do these actors and actresses want to be remembered for, especially since many of them are just starting out?

Offensive Material

Nudity: Extreme. In an extended sequence, fully nude female giants are shown walking in a field, and we are exposed to full-frontal nudity (genitals covered), but one chest is focused on for a few minutes during a conversation. We also see rear nudity as they walk. Throughout the film, both male and female bare backsides are shown multiple times. A woman is dimly seen standing nude (full frontal).

Sex: Gawain drowns his concerns in sex and drink for a year. People are shown having sexual intercourse in a hallway. Some intense intercourse scenes are featured between two main characters, and at the end of one a sexual liquid is shown on the man’s hand. A man awakens on Christmas Day in a brothel—active women and men. A man kisses Gawain on the lips. Talk of rape.

Violence: Very Heavy. A man’s head is seen on fire at the beginning of the film. There are graphic decapitations with axe and sword. The Green Knight is beheaded, and then his head talks. Puppets are shown to children of Gaiwan beheading the Green Knight and the Green Knight doing the same. Battlefield views of dead soldiers are shown pierced by arrows, and another man impaled on large stakes. A young boy is killed in a war. A man’s head is cut off right after a vine penetrates him. The lead character slowly pulls out a portion of his own intestines.

Blood spills on a table. A skeleton is seen in a cage. We see a character as a skeleton. A character blisters up from a poisonous food and vomits. Dead animals are shown from hunting. A child is bought and ripped from its mother.

About occultism

Occult: A ritual is performed. Mediums are seen transcribing what a character is saying in another room, and use they summon the Green Knight. A medium is seen chanting spells and creates a protective magical cloth. Ghosts and other spirits depicted. Witches and witchcraft are part of the story.

Morals

Again, the film’s entire message seems to revolve around the idea that one’s legacy is what matters most, and that how one defines it is critical. This is completely contrary to the Word of God. Sure, works matter to a certain extent. But faith in Christ drives us to live according to God’s will and therefore our works will be pleasing to God. It’s not a “let’s see how well we do on Earth” contest. Here is what scripture says….

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. —Hebrews 11:6

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have work.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. —James 2:18

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. —James 2:26

Our purpose then is to, as the Scriptures state, “store up heavenly treasures in Heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). That’s our legacy, what we can stand and attest to when we meet our Lord.

Final Thoughts

My viewing of “The Green Knight” couldn’t have been more timely, as just yesterday my pastor was touching upon works and faith and what this means as a Christian.

And at the end of this review, I think about the legacy and the role this film should play in the history of movies in general and that is… NONE WHATSOEVER.

Sure Green Knight’s message is there, I guess. The message, though, is lost in the muck of the content. You don’t need to watch the film. I did that for you. Skip this film completely.

  • Nudity: Extreme
  • Sex: Very Heavy
  • Violence: Very Heavy
  • Occult: Moderately Heavy to Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate— • several scenes involving drinking • drunken man punches another outside a tavern • ingestation of apparently hallucinogenic mushrooms or berries, followed by hallucination
  • Profane language: None
  • About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity
  • What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Is it just “bad people” that are sinners, or are YOU a sinner? Answer
  • Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
  • Do NOT click on this button

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative
Negative—It is hard to watch The Green Knight and say that you completely loved it or despised it, as this work fits squarely between excellent and quite poor. Part of the problem lies with the storytelling method, a framed narrative in which one character tells us something she witnessed or heard from another person. The other problem is that we cannot tell whether the narrator is a witch, demon, or unclean spirit. Perhaps this doesn’t matter as the invisible speaker takes Gawain, a king it seems, and uses her power to set his head on fire. And with this ominous denunciation of a loser turned warrior, we begin our tale of a man not worthy to sit on the throne let alone call himself a king’s nephew.

Gawain, played wonderfully by Dev Patel of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Lion, is a degenerate drinker and womanizer, stinking of filth and drink from the brothels he inhabits. The rest of the court of the round table consists of disheveled men and murderers; no one we can compare to the sanitized heroes from the BBC’s Merlin or novels like T. H White’s The Once and Future King. This, too, is a problem: for those of us familiar with Medieval literature and popular films, Arthur, himself, is a broken old man too ashamed of his own failures and unduly proud of his loyal men to merit credibility. There is a real sense that Gawain wants to be a better man, but his womanizing and disregard for the gentility and mercy of a moral knight makes that impossible. Arthur is a Celtic king wearing the medallion of a witch’s pentagram; this fact, combined with the soothsaying of the three witches during their bone-reading ceremony reminds us the world of God the Father is not here. In fact, much of the tale, like the Merlin series, is about a world trying to fill the gap made by Celtic gods and goddesses too terrible to tolerate.

We've seen better Arthurs like Clive Owen or Bradley James; Arthur, as legends tell, was either a Roman tormentor of Celts who regained sympathy for his people and sided with them against his Roman friends, or a Medieval gent of high moral standing, granted after a period of moral looseness, as we see in the BBC series. The Green Knight’s Camelot is simply a brothel of drunken debauchery and dubious claims of heroic deeds. Witchcraft controls the tale, but this isn’t particularly threatening as this world is not the world of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic exorcist Gabriel Amorthe once noted that we need not fear witchcraft so long as it is portrayed in a world where our Lord never existed; The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are places dominated by sorcery, but encapsulated in worlds where Aslan the Lion subtly reveals his identity as Jesus Christ on Earth and the benevolent elves and sorcerers of Middle Earth act with moral instincts paralleling our own Christian morality; there is much Christ-like sacrifice and genuine love between characters for Satan to draw much influence there. This, argues Amorthe, is why Satan cannot draw influence or benefit from our enjoying Middle Earth and Narnia. A far cry from Harry Potter of which he once wrote, it “Bears the signature of the King of Darkness.”

Gawain is not a moral man. Many tales about Arthur and his men are like bildungsroman, coming of age stories, except Arthurian tales usually need spirits and deities to guide our heroes into becoming better people. A fox spirit plays that role here, but is entirely useless and unhelpful. A young man provides directions for Gawain, then calls him out after refusing to pay him for his assistance. The moral lesson is obvious here: I helped you out of charity, now you must help me. Later, that young man and two women tie Gawain and leave him to die. Good and evil appear to be meaningless throughout much of the story as we only learn why the world is the way it is by the ominous prophecy of the witch portrayed by Alicia Vikander. Green, she says, is both a wonder and a horror because it represents life and health in nature, on one hand, and the rotting of fetid flesh on the other. The Green Knight, whatever he is, is both a menacing and a regal figure. He represents a conveniently forgotten truth in the world of a fallen humanity.

Gawain meets Winifred, a spirit played by Erin Kellyman, who asks him to help retrieve her severed head. This part is troublesome for Christians as the ghost refuses to disclose whether she is of the light or of darkness. When Gawain tries to physically console her, she rightly berates him, saying, “Do not touch me. A Knight would know better.” That this tale is not one for children is made clear, as we are told that a man raped her and severed her head shortly after. Ghosts are not welcome spirits in our world; like witches, they are tolerable only in foreign worlds outside Christian existence and so much the better if they are destroyed or unmade by tale’s end.

If we filter through the rougher patches, we come to see that great moral lesson of the tale torments Gawain, as he comes to see that the challenge of the Green Knight completed his moral failure. This is the true gem of The Green Knight: the gem needing two hours of garbage we needed to sift through. The young hero severed the head of an enemy that surrendered and disarmed himself. Whatever the Green Knight is, his role is to show Camelot how far they’ve fallen. If Gawain cannot be merciful, the GK can. The tears that flow from the GK’s face in the final scene show us that he does not represent evil but a cleansing power of nature seeking to transform Camelot into what it ought to have been: a smaller paradise on earth, a paragon of morality. The GK answers Gawain, “What else ought there be?” A better film. A film that shows us that a better humanity remains in tune with nature and God, never consuming too much nor too narcissistic to empower evil. This film could’ve truly been astonishing in the hands of a better scriptwriter and a better director.

The cinematic qualities are difficult to endure as the camera panning, 360 degree spins, and aggravating musical score are even more insufferable than in the movie Old. The nature scenes and photography are impressive, as is the fetid waste of a battle scene and the drenched, dirty depictions of the ugliest Camelot ever portrayed.

The upside down pan is a particularly nausea-inducing scene and I would advise sensitive viewers to simply close their eyes for a minute or two.

The attempts at moralizing are lost on the filmmakers as it ultimately doesn’t matter whether characters womanize, rape, or slaughter indiscriminately. Attempts for Gawain to mature are lost out on tedious temptation scenes and the kernel of morality demonstrated by the GK himself. The noblest beings appear to be the giants in the great valley, whose only noteworthy performance appears to be their mimicking of the fox-spirit’s howl in a scene utterly bereft of meaning.

Beware the homosexuality scene as Joel Edgerton’s character plants his lips on an unwilling Gawain who simply tells him to move back. For me, this is a deal-breaker, as the Letter to the Romans and the Catholic Catechism teach that Heaven will punish mercilessly those who engage in this particular filth.

Amongst the canon of Medieval literature and the ensuing popular culture, The Green Knight will not rank as high as most. But its does have its moments, however sparse they may be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Christopher, age 42 (Canada)
Negative—I don’t want to give this movie more time than it deserves, but I did anyway. If you are thinking about watching this movie, don’t bother, unless you’re into heraldic literature gone awry. I thought it would be an action movie of epic proportions, though dark, but it was pseudo-intellectual movie offset with overwhelming aural stimuli and disconnected visual phantasms. I tolerated the undesirable attributes of the film in hopes of some worthy denouement, but all it offered at the conclusion was meaninglessness—as far as I could tell.

[Spoiler Alert] I wanted to understand the movie and discovered that it was based on a 14th century poem. Students of classic English literature have studied it as they would Chaucer. Several movies have been produced to capture the vision and dilemmas of the poem: in 1984 “Sword of the Valiant” and in 1973 “Gawain and the Green Knight.” A millennial version is sure to undo the original storyline and from what I gathered it seems to amplify the ironies and contradictions of life. In the poem, Gawain’s humanness makes him likable, but in this movie, his humanness makes him despicable. It begins with “Christ is risen” but is consumed with spiritism and witchcraft. The mother pines for her son to become king, but the Green Knight she summons will take his life. The Green Knight appeals to man’s pride with his “game” but Gawain profits no pride in striking the first and only blow. Gawain thinks his quest is for honor, but he dishonors himself repeatedly. The idea of doing anything charitable for anyone else is overtaken by quid pro quo and self-interest. He presumes to be worthy of knighthood, but fights no battles.

Like apostle Paul said, if our hope in life is not grounded in the reality of the resurrection, we are most miserable. If this movie has anything real to say, it is that mankind is worse than miserable without Christ. In “Sword of the Valiant, ” Gawain admits he was a fool to accept the challenge and emerges a better man, but this was not entirely clear in the current adaptation.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Terry Ohare, age 68 (USA)
Secular Movie Critics
…“The Green Knight” is supposed to be a tale about what it means to be human; Lowery’s film is entirely void of that humanity. It’s a dour, bloated experience that not only fundamentally misunderstands the work of art being adapted, but has no interest in exploring or expanding upon what was already there. …
Juan Barquin, The Film Stage
…Had these themes of accepting the consequences of actions, living up to one’s word, the moral weakness of youth been better capitalized on, or had a little fun been had, The Green Knight would have done a better job at earning itself a place in the storybooks. …
Hunter Lanier, Film Threat

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