David Lowery’s fantastical adaptation of the Arthurian legend, The Green Knight, arrives on 4K Ultra HD this week, and it looks pretty great. Here’s our review of the new release.
I, like many, didn’t have the chance to check out The Green Knight in theaters when it first hit. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too terribly long for the movie to arrive on Ultra HD/Blu-ray. As you guessed it, the film looks ridiculously good in the 4K format.
The Green Knight 4K Ultra HD
Directed By: David Lowery
Written By: David Lowery
Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Barry Keoghan, Eric Kellyman
Release Date: October 12, 2021
Purchase [Affiliate Link]: https://amzn.to/3mMahQH
I’m getting ahead of myself, however! The movie is based on one of the King Arthur legends, focused on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The titular Knight is considered a “tester of men” who happens to venture into King Arthur’s court one Christmas morning. His arrival, and terrifying appearance feels menacing, but the Green Knight issues a challenge (a “game” as he calls it), inviting anyone to strike him, as long as he can return the blow upon the following year.
Gawain (Dev Patel) is a bit of a brash young man, eager to prove his worth among the legendary Knights of the Round table, even as he holds the King’s ear (being his nephew). Seeing a chance at glory, Gawain takes up the challenge and beheads the Green Knight…which doesn’t kill him.
Thus, Gawain finds his story being told all across the kingdom, making him something of a legend himself. Yet as the year anniversary approaches, he finds himself terrified to complete the bargain; knowing it will result in his own death. In order to retain his honor and prove himself, Gawain embarks on the journey to the Green Chapel and his fateful confrontation.
The trek is perilous, seeing him come across bandits, ghosts, and all manner of fantastical beings. Ultimately he finds himself confronting the Green Knight, but the results of his decisions there could bring dire consequences for the Kingdom.
I don’t want to go much more into the story, as it does some unique things with its telling that could spoil the experience. Suffice it to say, The Green Knight is far more than a simple retelling of it’s source. Rather, it almost feels like an amalgamation of multiple stories that involve Gawain as a character; incorporating various elements into a single, definitive, story of his journey.
The result is something far more esoteric/thought-provoking than most are likely to expect. This isn’t a medieval style epic, with swords and magic clashing (though there’s plenty of mysticism), but more of a meditative look at pride, the meaning of honor, and what truly makes a man.
In many ways, it feels exactly like reading a classic literary book. It brings lofty themes as well as characterizations that serve as both as a means to move the story forward AND important symbols to the protagonist. Much like the Arthurian stories it’s based on, it brings up plot points that seem to go nowhere, and strange asides you can never be sure have really happened, or simply part of Gawain’s imagination. Even so, every element works to define the character, and his journey, in very specific ways.
In this way, it’s hard to say it’s a gripping movie in the traditional sense, but The Green Knight will not let you forget it. Several days after watching, I find myself randomly turning over certain scenes in my mind, analyzing what they meant to the story and how it plays with the legend I already know.
From that perspective, it’s hard to gauge how another might feel about it. There are parts that feel overlong/dragging, along with the aforementioned plot threads that just drop, but even those aspects feel purposeful to the story, not necessarily a flaw. It can be difficult to watch, because of it, but the experience is certainly one I won’t forget.
All that said, on the technical side of things, the 4K Ultra HD release for The Green Knight is stunning. The cinematography in the film is already top notch, but the transfer on the disc makes all of those decisions pop. From the darker depths of resting in a haunted house, to the ethereal forests bursting with color, every frame stands out in this transfer.
As far as the special features go, The Green Knights comes with:
Boldest of Blood and Wildest of Heart: Making The Green Knight
Practitioners of Magic: Visual Effects
Illuminating Technique: Title Design
Though there are only really three featurettes included, they offer quite a bit of depth behind the scenes of the film. Coming in at 35, 15, and 18 minutes respectively, there’s plenty of content offered that movie buffs can dive into. While I can’t say I imagine I’ll be coming back to them any time soon, they definitely more than what I expected.