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Starring: Dev Patel, Joel Edgerton, Barry Keoghan, Ralph Ineson, Alicia Vikander, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Sarita Choudhury, Erin Kellyman
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
Medieval fantasy adventure directed by David Lowery based on the Arthurian legend. The Green Knight (2021) follows Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), 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.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Narrator: Look, see a world that holds more wonders than any since the Earth was born. And of all who reigned o’er, none had renown like the boy who pulled sword from stone. But this is not that king, nor is this his song. Let me tell you instead a new tale. I’ll lay it down as I’ve heard it told. Its letters sent, its history pressed, of an adventure brave and bold. Forever set, in heart, in stone, like all great myths of old.
Essel: Christ is born.
Gawain: Christ is born, indeed.
Essel: You a Knight yet?
Essel: Are you a Knight yet?
Gawain: Not yet.
Essel: Better hurry up!
Gawain: I’ve got time. I’ve got lots of time.
King: Where is thy mother?
Gawain: She was not feeling herself, my lord.
King: Then come. Sit here, besides us. Besides me and my queen.
Gawain: That is not my place.
King: No. Then let it be, today. Its owner is away. Who knows when he will return?
King: Good to see you, Gawain. Good to have one’s family by one’s side. One’s blood.
Gawain: Surely your knights have spilled enough blood in your name to bind them closer to you than I.
King: True. But you are my sister’s boy, queefed from her womb. They are not.
King: I look out upon my friends here today and I see songs no muse could ever sing or dream of. But I turn to thee, and I see what? I recognize, but I do not know thee. I say this not in reproach, but regret that I have never asked you to sit at my side before this day, or upon my knee when thy was newborn. But now it is Christmas, and I wish to build bridges. So before we make merry, you make for me a gift. You tell me a tale of yourself, so that I might know thee.
Gawain: I have none to tell, King.
Queen: Yet. You have none to tell yet.
Queen: Look around you, young Gawain. What do you see?
Gawain: I see legends.
Queen: Do not take your place amongst them idly.
King: I thank thee for breaking bread with me this blessed day. And it is blessed, for out my window this morn I looked, and I saw a land shaped by your hands. You have lain those same
hands upon our Saxon brethren, who now in your shadow bow their heads like babes. Peace, peace you have brought to your kingdom, so it is in peace that I now say to you that I am the luckiest here today, because I am amongst thee. I am amongst thee. So before we celebrate the birth of our Christ, let us honor one of our own who has done great things in His name. So a tale, or a show perhaps. What have thee? Who can regale me and my queen with some myth, or canto of thine own purport?
Green Knight: Oh, Greatest Of Kings, indulge me in this friendly Christmas game. Let whichever of your knights is boldest of blood and wildest of heart step forth, take up arms, and try with honor to land a blow against me. Whomsoever nicks me shall lay claim to this, my arm. It’s glory and riches shall be thine. But thy champ must bind himself to this. Should he land a blow, then one year and Yuletide hence, he must seek me out yonder, to the Green Chapel six nights to the North. He shall find me there, and bend the knee, and let me strike him in return. Be it a scratch on the cheek, or a cut on the throat, I will return what was given to me, and then in trust and friendship we shall part. Who, then, who is willing to engage with me?
King: This challenge is thine own? Though my will longs to leap across this table and meet thee, my body will not follow. Surely there is one amongst us here who will meet this knight on his terms.
Gawain: I will do it. I will meet him. I will meet thee.
King: You understand this challenge?
Gawain: I do. I think I do.
King: Remember, it is only a game.
Gawain: Have at me, Green Knight. Make a move, or I shall make mine.
Gawain: [as the Green Knight kneels] What is this? A trick? Stand up and face me! What do you expect me to do?
Queen: Have courage.
Gawain: Very well. Very well. You laid down your challenge. I accepted it, and I accept it still. Never forget what happened here upon this Christmas Day!
[he decapitates the Green Knight]
'Whilst we're off looking for red, in comes green. Red is the color of lust. But green is what lust leaves behind, in heart, in womb. Green is what is left when ardor fades, when passion dies, when we die too.' - The Lady Click To Tweet
Green Knight: [holding his decapitated head in his hands] One year hence.
Essel: [referring to Gawain decapitating the Green Knight’s head] What did it feel like? What did it feel like when you…
Gawain: Like cutting a melon in two.
Essel: And what does that feel like?
Gawain: Like nothing.
Essel: Were you afraid?
Essel: Are you just saying that?
Gawain: I am here, and he is not.
Gawain: The king lent me his sword, did you know that?
Essel: You held it?
Gawain: Well, I did more than hold it.
Essel: Behold, Brave Sir Gawain, chopper of heads, severer of melons, who cannot get it up.
King: My tooth hurts. Another year nearly gone already. Have you thought what you will do when Christmas comes?
Gawain: Was it not just a game?
King: Perhaps. But it is not complete.
'Honor. That is why a knight does what he does.' - Gawain (The Green Knight) Click To Tweet
Gawain: You truly believe he’s sitting in a chapel, counting the hours, whiling away the year
waiting for me to come?
King: Well, I do not know. You will tell me. You must seek him out.
Gawain: And if death awaits me?
King: Oh, I do not know of any man who has not marched up to greet death before his time.
Gawain: Why are you holding me to this light?
King: Is it wrong to want greatness for you?
Gawain: I fear I am not meant for greatness.
Queen: May the Blessed Virgin keep your five fingers strong, your five senses sharp. May her five joys inspire you. The five wounds of her son give you fervor. And the five virtues of a knight light your way. Keep thy covenant, young Gawain.
King: And if God smiles on thee, then hurry thee back. Thy seat besides us waits.
Essel: Are you really going to go?
Gawain: Should I?
Essel: I like your head better where it is.
Gawain: I gave my word. I made a covenant.
Essel: This is how silly men perish.
Gawain: Or how brave men become great.
Essel: Why greatness? Why is goodness not enough?
Mother: [referring to the green girdle] Take this now. Wear it about your waist as you go. And if you wear it still when you return…
Gawain: Will I return?
Mother: When you return, you will come with your head held high. I promise, you will not come to harm. And, boy, my boy, do not waste this.
'I see things everywhere that bear no logic.' - The Lord (The Green Knight) Click To Tweet
Essel: Do you still fancy me? Do I make you happy?
Essel: Even though I’m here, and you’re there?
Essel: What will you say if I asked you to make me your lady?
Gawain: A lady?
Essel: Your lady.
Gawain: I could give you more gold than any lady has.
Essel: I already have your gold.
Essel: What if I wanted to sit by your side, and take your hand, and have your ear? What will you say to that?
Essel: [as Gawain is silent she replies as him] “Why, yes, Essel. I’d like that very much. You may have my ear, and my hand, and heart. And I will be king, and you my queen. You’ll be my lady, and I’ll be your man.”
Gawain: [referring to the dead men at the battlefield] Why weren’t they buried?
Scavenger: All dead. All dead. No one to bury them. Though you know, nature will do its trick. She’ll suck them in and tuck them tight.
Scavenger: That’s a nice axe you got. You do some fighting with that axe?
Gawain: Here and there.
Gawain: Only there. Here, I’m just passing through.
Scavenger: To where?
Gawain: I go North.
Scavenger: North, oh! North is a direction, alright. Just North?
Gawain: To the Green Chapel.
Scavenger: Are my directions not worth anything to you?
Gawain: My thanks.
Scavenger: I said, are my directions not worth anything to you? I mean, a knight like you could spare a wretch like me just a small, small act of kindness.
Gawain: [tosses him a coin] Here. A kindness.
Scavenger: [after they amush Gawain] Where you off to? A knightly quest?
Gawain: I’m not a knight.
Scavenger: But you said you were.
Gawain: I never said that. You said that. I never said I was a knight.
Scavenger: But are you?
Gawain: No! No, I’m not.
Scavenger: Oh. Well, you look like one.
Gawain: Just tell me then. Is there really a chapel?
Scavenger: You’re in it.
Scavenger: [after he steals Gawain’s axe, girdle, and horse] You rest your bones, my brave little knight. I’ll finish your quest for you. I’ll finish it good.
Winifred: Where are you going?
Gawain: Home. I’m headed home.
Winifred: And you’ve lost your way?
Winifred: I’ve lost something as well. Will you help me find it?
Gawain: What is it I’m looking for?
Winifred: My head.
Gawain: Your head is on your neck, my lady.
Winifred: No. It is not. It might look like it is, but it is not. It is in the spring.
Gawain: Well, how did it happen to get there?
Winifred: A lord came seeking shelter, like thee. Perhaps he was thee. Was he?
Winifred: You certain?
Winifred: This lord sought to lay with me. I fought him off, but he returned in the night and broke down my door. I tried to flee, but he cut off my head. He threw it in the spring, and now, try as I might, I cannot get at it.
Gawain: My lady. My lady. Are you real, or are you a spirit?
Winifred: What is the difference? I just need my head.
Gawain: As will I before the year is out.
Gawain: [referring to her head] If I go in there and find it, what would you offer me in exchange?
Winifred: Why would you ask me that? Why would you ever ask me that?
Winifred: [after Gawain finds her skull] Now I can see thee. And I will strike thee down with every care I have for thee. The Green Knight is someone you know.
The Lord: And here, friend, is your breakfast to replenish your strength. Surely, you will need it.
Gawain: Why is that?
The Lady: Because you are brave, Sir Gawain, come to face the Green Knight.
The Lord: I dare say every table in this land has heard of you and sung your song. Sir Gawain, the finest and most virtuous knight, seeking his destiny across these lands.
Gawain: Perhaps you think that I am something I’m not.
The Lord: Such as what?
The Lord: You are at the end of your quest, Gawain. A little sooner than you expected, perhaps. But such is the case for us all. Here is what will happen. On Christmas morn, we will send you on your way. And by nightfall, you will be at the doorway of your destiny. So stay a while. Rest. And make yourself content.
The Lady: Surely a knight knows something of love.
Gawain: I don’t.
The Lady: Truly?
The Lord: Let us make a promise to each other. I hunt tomorrow, and the day after. Whatever the forest offers me, I will bring you home the best. And you give me in turn whatever you might receive here.
Gawain: What might I receive here that is not already yours?
The Lord: Who knows? This house is full of strange things. But then again, I see things everywhere that bear no logic.
The Lord: Have you ever seen a hawk kill a horse? Just swoop down and… It’s terrible. Every man should see it at least once. But that is the world. And the world is fit for all manner of mysteries. A man’s home though, should be safe from all that. One wall joined with another, line and plumb. Good, strong walls, and a fire within.
The Lady: Why is he green, do you think?
Gawain: The knight?
The Lady: Yes. Was he born that way?
The Lord: Perhaps it is the color of his blood when he blushes.
The Lady: But why green? Why not blue, or red?
Gawain: Because he is not of this earth.
The Lady: But green is the color of earth, of living things, of life.
Gawain: And of rot.
The Lady: Yes. Yes.
The Lady: We deck our halls with it and dye our linens. But should it come creeping up the cobbles, we scrub it out, fast as we can. When it blooms beneath our skin, we bleed it out. And when we, together all, find that our reach has exceeded our grasp, we cut it down, we stamp it out, we spread ourselves atop it and smother it beneath our bellies. But it comes back. It does not dally, nor does it wait to plot or conspire. Pull it out by the roots one day, and then next, there it is, creeping in around the edges. Whilst we’re off looking for red, in comes green. Red is the color of lust. But green is what lust leaves behind, in heart, in womb. Green is what is left when ardor fades, when passion dies, when we die too.
The Lady: When you go, your footprints will fill with grass. Moss shall cover your tombstone, and as the sun rises, green shall spread over all, in all its shades and hues. This verdigris will overtake your swords, and your coins, and your battlements, and try as you might, all you hold dear will succumb to it. Your skin. Your bones. Your virtue.
The Lord: And what do you hope to gain from facing all of this hue?
The Lord: Are you asking me?
Gawain: No. Honor. That is why a knight does what he does.
The Lord: And this is what you want most in life?
Gawain: To be a knight?
The Lord: No, honor. You are not very good with questions.
Gawain: It is part of the life I want.
The Lord: And this is all it takes for that part to be had? You’ll do this one thing, you return home, a changed man, an honorable man? Just like that?
The Lord: Oh, I wish I could see the new you. But perhaps we will miss our old friend, and our fun, and our games.
The Lady: Why did you not come to my chambers yesterday?
Gawain: I couldn’t.
The Lady: You couldn’t?
Gawain: No, but…
The Lady: But you wanted to.
The Lady: And now?
Gawain: I would that I could, but…
The Lady: But…
Gawain: It isn’t right.
The Lady: Isn’t right.
The Lady: Do you believe in magic?
The Lady: In witchcraft. Do you believe in it?
Gawain: Yes. I do. It is all around us.
Gawain: [referring to the green girdle] Where did you get that?
The Lady: I made it. There’s an enchantment sewn into its threads. Wear it and you will never be struck down.
Gawain: By what?
The Lady: By man, or spirit, or any other implements. I promise, you will not come to harm, as long as it is about your waist.
Gawain: Do you mean it?
The Lady: Yes.
The Lady: [to Gawain] You are no knight.
The Lord: Where are you going?
Gawain: I must make my appointment.
The Lord: Oh, on your own, after all? What of our game?
Gawain: I don’t want your games, or your gifts, or your kindness.
The Lord: Are you certain there is nothing you wish to give me? There is something. There is something. And I think I can take it from you.
Gawain: [as he kisses Gawain] Unhand me and let us go our ways.
The Lord: Very well. Very well.
Gawain: Why do you stop me? I cannot tarry.
Fox: Go that way, and your doom is at hand. You will find no mercy. No happy end.
Gawain: What witchcraft is this?
Fox: No witchcraft.
Fox: He you seek is as wild as I, but knows no measure.
Gawain: I know what I face.
Fox: If any man truly knew, he would bear his shame happily and turn away, head held high, to end his song as he saw fit. His secret would be safe with me. Are you this man?
Fox: The spell about your waist says otherwise.
Gawain: This is just a dirty rag.
Fox: Leave it here then.
Gawain: It was a gift.
Fox: No need for gifts where you are headed.
Fox: Come. Come home. Come home with me.
Gawain: [he swings his axe at the fox, who then runs off] I never asked for your company anyway!
Green Knight: You came. Good sir, is it Christmas?
Green Knight: Do you recall where you cut me?
Gawain: I do.
Green Knight: And have you come to see that blow returned?
Gawain: I have.
Green Knight: Then kneel, and we shall complete our game.
Green Knight: Aye.
Green Knight: [as he goes to swing his axe] Now, one strike as good as you gave. Sir, you flinch.
Gawain: I know. I know.
Green Knight: Did I show signs of fear when our positions were reversed?
Gawain: I’m not so confident as thee.
Green Knight: You have had a year to find courage.
Gawain: One year, or a hundred, it wouldn’t make a difference. Give me a moment.
Green Knight: Are you ready? Are you ready?
Green Knight: Then I shall get to hacking.
Gawain: Wait! Wait! Is this really all there is? Is this…
Green Knight: What else ought there be?
Gawain: [as the Green Knight is about to strike, he runs off] No! No. I’m sorry. I cannot. I’m sorry.
Gawain: [after he sees the vision of his life as an unhappy king filled with regret and sorrow, he removes the green girdle] Wait. Wait. There. Now I’m ready. I’m ready now.
Green Knight: Well done, my brave knight. Now, off with your head.