Director David Lowery’s critically acclaimed cinematic adaptation of a classic 14th-century tale looks to mesmerize an ultra-high-definition home theater audience in The Green Knight (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 125 minutes, $42.99)
Specifically, with the finest of homages applied to the Arthurian chivalric romance “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the film explores the world of the yet-to-be-knighted Gawain (Dev Patel).
While meeting with his uncle, King Arthur (Sean Harris), at Camelot, his mother, the witch Morgan LeFay, summons a mysterious and towering Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) to the court.
The behemoth challenges any knight to strike a blow at him with his own green ax, and in return, they will accept the same level of attack one year later at his Green Chapel.
An impetuous Gawain jumps in and strikes the Green Knight with Excalibur, no less, and cuts off his head. The Green Knight promptly picks up his head and reminds Gawain that he will see him sustain an equal blow in a year.
The intriguing premise plays out in a world of death and mysticism as Gawain goes on a mythic journey to become a hero while finding courage and honor along the way.
Mr. Lowery’s interpretation benefits the rich character interpretation and production design and an atmospheric musical score that embraces the macabre.
Although often faithfully sticking to the critical points of the tale, the director’s ambiguous ending deviated from the original source and was slightly too radical for my appreciation.
Still, those looking for an artsy, intelligent interpretation of Gawain’s adventure should dive in, but those in need of an action-packed blockbuster need not apply.
4K in action: The UHD format, culled from a 4K intermediate, beautifully brings to visual life cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo’s appreciation for a mix of medieval murkiness and grime, the dreamy majesty of the movie “Excalibur” and sweeping shots of panoramic landscapes as the screen-bursting presentation unfolds.
Highlights embracing the 4K, 2160p technology allow viewers to examine the finely crafted lettering of the Green Knight’s challenge note, wine dripping into the etched cracks of a stone floor, and wooden puppets clear enough to see the fine grain construction.
Locations to admire include a misty forest of trees wrestling with the wind with branches from the conifers sticking out like spikes; along the sandy white road in front of a mountain range; large stone castles as Gawain leaves Camelot on horseback, and a reddish-hued murky underwater with bubbles looking like Gawain is swimming in a star system.
First, a meaty, 35-minute overview has the director commenting on the original tale and justifying many of his creative alterations to the Gawain saga.
He also discusses the casting, the Green Knight’s make-up, shooting in Ireland, and costume design. The segment also features Mr. Patel, Joel Edgerton (the Lord), Mr. Droz Palermo, production designer Jade Healy and composer Daniel Hart.
Next, we get 14 minutes with visual effects supervisors Eric Saindon and Nicholas Ashe Bateman. They discuss how the traditional sets and natural environments were embellished with computer-generated enhancements, but overall stayed faithful to the director’s appreciation of tangible and practical production design.
Finally, typography designer Teddy Banks offers an oddly fascinating eight-minute dive into the numerous title cards used in the film, exploring font choices, the redoing of the titles during the COVID-19 break, and a hands-on explanation of the film’s name virtually scratched into a tree trunk that was used in the final effort.