what is the real story behind the movie?
Just before he embarks on his mad midwinter quest in The Green Knight’s Sir Gawain Dev Patel is accosted by his more sensible girlfriend, played by Alicia Vikander. What the hell is he playing, she wants to know.
Suicide missions like these, he told her haughtily, are “the way brave men grow up.”
“Why the greatness? ” She answers. “Isn’t kindness enough? “
This question – whether a knight’s worth is to be measured by public acclaim or by his own private morality – is the ethical driving force of the film, but also of the poem that inspired it, Sir Gwain and the Green Knight.
Written at the end of the 14th century, by a poet of whom we know next to nothing beyond the West Midlands dialect in which he wrote (and even that might tell us more about his scribe than he), 2 500 verses is, according to its most famous translator JRR Tolkien, the best narrative poem of the Middle Ages.
It begins in Camelot around Christmas time, when the demand of a bored King Arthur for “an adventurous thing, a crass story” is literally alarmingly met by the arrival of a huge Green Knight, who enters. in the banquet hall and issues a challenge: knight of the famous round table brave enough to strike him with his ax, in exchange for a kick back in a year and a day?