The latest iteration of an Arthurian legend, The Green Knight (2021) is hitting theaters on July 30, 2021. The teaser pics and trailer have introduced modern audiences to the story of Arthur’s nephew and favorite, Sir Gawain (played by Dev Patel), who has probably one of the most complex and complicated narratives of all the Knights of the Round Table. Depending on which cycle you’re drawing from, Gawain is either the knight’s knight, the protector of women, a great lover of women, a terrifying villain, or everything in between. It’s not entirely clear from the trailer what direction this film will go in, except to say that the overall vibe is dark, so I’m betting we aren’t going to get a version of Gawain that is all sweetness and light. I’m also willing to bet that the Arthurian scholars out there are going to have BIG OPINIONS about Gawain’s portrayal and his infamous challenge with the mysterious Green Knight. I’m going to avoid speculating too much about how far this film is going to deviate from the 14th-century poem that it is clearly drawing from, and save most of my commentary about the plot for after I’ve seen the film.
Let’s just say that because we are dealing with a romanticized fictional character with a 1,000-year-long history of literary variations, whatever writer/director David Lowery does with the material will be just one more interpretation in a long line of interpretations.
What I will talk about right now is the costumes in The Green Knight. Designed by Malgosia Turzanska, who is probably best known for her historical design work on the first season of Stranger Things (2016-), the first thing that stands out about the costumes is how much they draw from early medieval Christian iconography. Much has been stated in the early press on the movie about the striking crown designs which incorporate a halo, a nice nod to Arthur’s “divine providence” as King of the Brittons.
The costumes overall are a mix of tunics and gowns with jaw-dropping fantasy, which works nicely within the context of this mythological court. Arthur’s kingdom has always lurked just beyond the tangible history of the early medieval period, and completely within it as the stories became popularized into romances over the course of the 12th through 14th centuries.
Like I said above, this is going to be a total mashup of eras and inspiration, but it going to have mad aesthetic, so just emotionally prepare yourself.
I, for one, am here for it.
Will you be watching The Green Knight?