The Green Knight’s History Lesson Seemingly Spoils a Movie-Specific Twist

The Green Knight’s History Lesson Seemingly Spoils a Movie-Specific Twist
My feelings exactly, Dev. (Screenshot: A24)

It’s been over a decade since I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, so I’ll admit I’m a tad rusty. That’s why I’m relieved to see A24’s oral history video of the classic poem, narrated by Game of Thrones’ Ralph Ineson (who plays the titular green knight), in anticipation of David Lowery’s The Green Knight film. Because lord knows I’m not reading it again.

A24 has released a short video sharing the history of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a “mythic morality tale” about King Arthur’s nephew that probably dates back to the 14th century. I say “probably” because, the truth is, no one knows who exactly wrote it or when. The original tale is one of chivalry, honesty, and humanity’s complex relationship with nature. It’s considered one of the greatest early works in English literature, right alongside classics like Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales. In The Green Knight the film, Dev Patel stars as Sir Gawain, a knight of the famed Round Table. After the Green Knight (Ineson) shows up to start a Christmastime fight club–letting one knight strike a killing blow in exchange for “turnabout is fair play” one year later — Sir Gawain accepts the challenge and embarks on a heroic quest to get his arse handed to him. It looks to be taking heavy inspiration from the original story, especially in its design, which harkens back to Medieval religious imagery. But there are also ways The Green Knight is striking out on its own — including a surprising reveal shown in this very video.

You can watch the oral history below but keep in mind it contains a spoiler for Sir Gawain’s personal history, which I’ll describe after the video embed. Also, content warning for quick, flashing text, which may be hard for some viewers.

One of the things shown in this trailer is Sir Gawain’s family tree, which has one major difference from the source material. In the original story, Gawain was the son of Arthur’s half-sister Morgause and King Lot of Orkney. However, this version decided to change things up a bit by having his mother be none other than Morgan Le Fay (Sarita Choudhury), Arthur’s other half-sister. She’s an enchantress, trained under Merlin, who plays an integral role in the events of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. By making her Sir Gawain’s mother, it adds another layer of complexity to an already convoluted story. I’m excited to see where this goes.

After several months of delays because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Green Knight is finally heading to U.S. theatres on July 30. It does not currently have an updated Australian release date, but stay tuned for more news.