Review: The Green Knight (2021)

Adaptations are always a difficult thing to undertake. There is the group that wants a direct, faithful interpretation of their beloved original work. Then there is the group that wants a new, grand vision for the masses. Of course, there is also the group that believes that only the fundamental core (whatever the hell that may be) need be alluded to in the new adaptation. Unsurprisingly, the in built audience is both the benefit and detriment of adapting established works. Accordingly, the announcement of the 2021 film adaptation of the beloved and well known literary classic The Green Knight, though to be fair there are several versions of the infamous poem that have and can influence any adaptation.

Having read one version of the infamous story, I, admittedly, wasn’t sure what to expect from the 2021 A24 film. The story isn’t particularly long, and the events within the poem itself are not that involved. Obviously, the timeline within the story is about a year long, but the actual events that transpire are rather sparse; at least, for a film slightly north of two hours. Still, an A24 film starring Dev Patel was enough of a hook to get me invested, but then everything happened and did not have a chance to view the film until it arrived on streaming services recently. And, I will say, wish I had had the theatrical experience.

The film adaptation is a visual feast of a narrative. It is the (current) quintessential A24 movie in its aesthetic, themes, unconventional narrative, visuals, music, etc. This is probably why it did not receive wide viewership or audience reception. This is not to suggest that the film is bad by any means. Quite the opposite. The Green Knight takes bits and pieces from several tellings of the original, for lack of a better term, story and mixes and arranges what is necessary to tell the story the film is attempting to convey. Which is the point of adaptations, no? Using the framework and experience of the original work to tell a new and interesting story. In that regard, The Green Knight fully succeeds as it very much remains faithful to the source material but absolutely adds new themes and ideas by simply adjusting and changing a few elements in the adaptation.

The core story does not shift too much, so if you are familiar with source story, this film won’t be too difficult to follow. That being said, it is still very much not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ and that is not too surprising. If you are a fan of Dev Patel, A24, or weird films, I highly recommend The Green Knight. Oddball, intriguing films deserve a chance, and ones with this much talent behind them should definitely find an audience. Check it out at when you have a chance.

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