Vice and Virtue in THE GREEN KNIGHT
David Lowery approaches filmmaking as poetry and not prose. His films emphasize highly stylized visual language and emotional provocation over other things general audiences prioritize like action or romance. These things are present in his films when the story calls for it but they are put into their time. In The Green Knight, Lowery demonstrates his mastery of time with intention and adept pacing to create a meditative fantasy epic with every frame a beautiful, living portrait.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic Lowery was offered the rare gift of more time when the original release date for The Green Knight in July 2020 was delayed a full year by A24. In that year, the director reedited the film after realizing some of the project’s themes were less emphasized than he intended.
“It was more a question of pace and less of content,” Lowery described in an AMA. “I had cut the film too quickly initially. In returning to it, I let it breathe more and included more of the world… Thankfully I came to my senses.”
(Source: No Film School)
The personal nature of the writer-director inserting his own thoughts and questions about mortality stand out through the ‘rich paradox of loss as both a tragic and profound experience,’ on which IndieWire asked Lowery to comment:
Loss is a beautiful thing; it’s a terrible thing and a sad thing, but it’s a necessary thing. One day we will lose all that we hold dear. In my attempt to make peace with that, I’ve tried to approach the idea of loss, the idea of death, the idea that all we know will one day come to an end, with a sense of peace and appreciation. I try to find meaning in that loss. I want to gain something from that. Death is on my mind a lot these days. I really try to embrace the goodness of death. I wanted the end of this film to be a happy ending. Maybe Sir Gawain gets his head cut off two seconds after the film cuts to black, or maybe he lives a long life and dies of old age as King Arthur did. But regardless, he will come to an end, he will die one day. What’s important is that he’s arrived at this place where he can face that inevitability with goodness in his heart. That is how I try to approach the world.