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Director David Lowery talks about the mysterious influences of the Green Knight

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Director David Lowery talks about the mysterious influences of the Green Knight

Like many other movies debuting in 2021, The green knight it was originally intended to open last year. Writer-director David Lowery, best known for low-key western-influenced indies like Aren’t the bodies the saints, a ghost story, other The old man and the gun He was all set to present his adaptation of the Arthurian legend in his home state of Texas at the 2020 South by Southwest film festival. There was only one problem: he still didn’t like it. “Sometimes the movies just aren’t ready,” he says. Vanity Fair.

SXSW ended up being canceled anyway, as the world stood still due to COVID. Lowery then spent six months reissuing The green knight into something I could be proud of. “I just gave myself permission to dig into the movie again, unlock it, and rework everything,” he says. “I found the affection I needed to cut it with love in my heart instead of disappointment and hatred. It’s different, it’s so much better. ”The resulting film: the journey of a haunting, visually stunning, and fantastic hero starring Dev patel“Opens at the end of this month.” It could be Lowery’s masterpiece.

The green knight is an adaptation of the anonymously written 14th century poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” which most English learners have had to read at least once. It tells a fairly simple story about King Arthur’s nephew, Sir Gawain, who accepts a challenge from a supernaturally huge knight on New Years Eve, and has a year to fulfill his end of the bargain. On his journey to find the Green Knight, Gawain encounters the usual Arthurian tests of honor and character, and comes out the other side a bit more deteriorated than some of his fellow Knights of the Round Table. Those familiar with the poem might be surprised by some aspects of Gawain’s journey as depicted in the movie trailer (giants and talking foxes, oh my!), But those elements, Lowery says, come directly from the text.

Gawain’s anonymous poet gave Lowery a kind of gift in the form of a few lines that they used for yada-yada for much of Gawain’s journey. Lowery filled in those blanks with, yes, plenty of beautiful photos of Dev Patel trudging through the muddy Irish countryside, but also a keen eye for any lost words he might throw on another adventure. “I hadn’t read everything since college, so I started reading it and writing the script at the same time,” he says. “I didn’t have the balance of the poem in my mind, so I came to the lines you mentioned that have a reference to Holy Head or a mention of giants or ogres, depending on the translation you read, and I think there are snakes and great battles.” .

Lowery transformed those reduced mentions into supernatural encounters with the Welsh city of Holywell. legendary St. Winifred (Erin kellyman), creepy CGI-rendered giants, and a scavenger played with progressive threat by Barry keoghan on the desolate remains of a bloody battle. “Winfred is the best example,” says Lowery. “The text has an inference to a specific place that has a lot of history and a lot of tradition. It was irresistible. “

The corpse-drowned battlefield that Gawain travels was inspired, says Lowery, by the Battle of Badon, in which King Arthur is said to have killed 960 men on his own. Lowery’s version of that battle calls into question Arthur’s “peaceful” reign. In the original poem, depending on the translation you read, Arthur is described as “lively” and “boyish.” Lowery cast a frequent movie villain Sean Harris (Mission Impossible) as Arthur and The witch other game of Thrones alum Kate dickie like Queen Guinevere, calling them sickly and decaying monarchs to hint at some rot in the heart of Camelot. “In the script I described them almost as if they were aliens,” he says. “It was designed to make people uncomfortable with them. At the same time, Sean’s performance is very warm. So there is a complexity … and it is one of the richest aspects of the film. “

That sense of unease is greatly enhanced by the film’s sound design and score, which are courtesy of Lowery’s constant collaborators. Johnny marshall other Daniel Hart, respectively. That ineffable A24 horror vibe that put audiences on the brink of movies like The witch, Midsommar, other Hereditary It also shines around here, thanks to Lowery’s request that Marshall and Hart make their Arthurian adventure tale “feel more like a horror movie.” But that, he says, is what he always asks of them. “Every movie we made, including The old man and the gun I was like, ‘Make it scarier. That one probably didn’t come. “

For the sound design, Lowery asked Marshall to accentuate the pauses with disturbing noises that increase tension, such as “a crow singing in the background” or “the sound of one two-four hitting another two-four.” But the most prevalent sound in this movie is “the sound you get when you weed the garden and weed is uprooted. I love looking for those weird sounds. “

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