The Green Knight: A Cinema Masterpiece
Amidst the usual summer blockbusters, A24 Films presents us with “The Green Knight,” an epic, dark fantasy tale plucked from Arthurian legends.
The story of Sir Gawain; King Arthur’s nephew, is a brooding one. Here we have a young man living in the shadow of his Uncle, the heroic deeds of the Knights of the Round Table and his own desire to be more than he is, unable to see greatness within himself. A greatness even King Arthur sees in him.
Gawain’s opportunity to be a legend comes in the form of The Green Knight. A mystical creature brought forth to offer a challenge to any of Arthur’s knights. A challenge Gawain accepts thinking his moment had come, only to doom himself.
As compelling the story of Sir Gawain is, it isn’t the main reason I consider this film a masterpiece of cinema. I call it a masterpiece because of how the combination of cinematography, script, editing and directing comes together in this particular film.
The imagery alone was enough to have me fully immersed.
There are many examples of spectacular use of practical and natural light and the contrast between light and shadow throughout the film, but my favorite comes near the beginning with an establishing scene.
We see what can be described as a snapshot of medieval times. There are farm animals and a peasant gathered near a wall which separates the inner city from the village. In the background, we see a larger building. The sky is grey and foggy. Next, another snapshot of the setting. Our only clue time has passed is the animals and the peasant have moved and the taller building is smoldering. Another shot and the flames have gotten bigger. Yet another and the flames are higher still, the roof of the building almost completely engulfed. A man and a woman enter the shot, changing this static scene to one with movement. Something is happening here, perhaps these two are responsible for the fire as we see the man draw his sword to confront whomever is coming after them.
We can only imagine the outcome of that scene because the camera moves, revealing the window we’ve been peering through. As the camera dolly’s backward, we are introduced to Sir Gawain whose face we can just make out because of the highlights on his profile and shoulder. The rest in soft shadows cast by the morning light.
Yes, the pacing is slow, but it is deliberate. A testament to Director David Lowery’s dedication to telling the story without rushing it. There are no hyperactive action sequences or quick pans. Every scene, every piece of dialogue is integral to the story and Lowery knows this.
Lowery’s mastery of his craft is also evident in the performances of his actors. The most notable of these is Dev Patel as Gawain and Sean Harris as King.
Patel’s performance as Gawain is both energetic and natural. He never oversells the emotion of his character. It is his embodiment of Gawain which further immerses the audience in the journey the young knight must take to face the inevitable consequence of his own actions.
Harris is equally captivating as King. He gives us a wearied Arthur-we all know he’s King Arthur, yet his official role is simply King- time has caught up to the once and future king, no longer a young man uniting all of Britain with Excalibur held high. Yet, in his performance, Harris appears a wearied, world-worn King who is still nothing short of legendary, who does not take pride for himself, but champions his companions; the men who’ve fought with him and stood by his side. He shows us an aged King filled with compassion for his nephew, wanting Gawain to find the greatness within himself.
It is the combination of the elements I’ve described, along with a decisive editing style from Lowery and unparalleled cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo which cements “The Green Knight” as a masterpiece in my mind. The film is mesmerizing, captivating, artistic and moving all at once. If you haven’t seen it yet, might I suggest you make a trip to your local theatre and treat yourself to a cinematic event.
Out For Coffee
This is my own version of the deli scene from When Harry Met Sally. The setting is outside a coffee shop and instead of eating sandwiches, Harry and Sally are enjoying some coffee.
Because I am in school for a film degree, it is only natural that I will make a few short films. This is one that I wrote, directed, filmed and edited. It is an artistic film about the transformation a young woman goes through during a bath after a very rough day.
What’cha Talkin ‘Bout Willis!
I was probably only six or seven when I first heard those words accompanied by the bugged out eyes and protruding lips face that Arnold Jackson would make at his brother Willis in the television show Diff’rent Strokes. Much to the chagrin of our mother my brother and I would copy him when we didn’t know what mom was trying to tell us.
As young as I was Gary Coleman made a lifelong impression on me with that one sentence and the face that he would make to communicate his confusion. It was funny and serious at the same time. Funny, because I laughed every time he did it. Serious because Arnold truly meant to convey his confusion or shock. Sometimes he used it as a sort of a “Hey now, wait a minute.” type line. I could compare it to Jackie Gleason’s “To the moon Alice!” or Bugs Bunny’s “What’s up doc?” Both of those have a lasting significance that make them timeless. So it is with “What’cha talkin ’bout Willis?”
However, the affect that Gary Coleman had on a generation was not just because of that one line. He gave Arnold Jackson heart, charisma, attitude and outright spunk. He made him real. As real as you and I. That is the true wonder and magic of what Gary Coleman did. For eight years he made us laugh and even feel sadness. By doing so he made himself, Gary Coleman relevant to the rest of the world. Not that he really needed it and though his career as an actor did not reach the acclamation of some who started on television at about the same time, he remained famous after the show ended just for being Gary Coleman.
I will never forget the time when Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson graced our television screen and livened up the prime time living room. Nor will I ever forget the television show that made it possible. Diff’rent Strokes is now a classic which will forever immortalize Gary Coleman in his relative youth and at the top of his game. A beacon of sunshine that he managed to keep into adulthood.
For me, a little boy who is now a man, Gary Coleman will forever symbolize a time when life was carefree, the future unwritten and bright.
Although there have been those younger, with more lucrative and glamorous careers than he that have passed on in recent years, Gary Coleman’s death at 42 somehow seems to have come way too soon. I hope his rest is peacful nonetheless.
He left his mark on me. You can tell if ever we meet and I give you a sideways glance out of the corner of my eye, scrunch up my face and say “Heyyyyy!!” in response to some teasing remark, because in my head I am thinking ” What’cha talkin ’bout Willis?!!”
>The Michael Jackson I never knew.
Image by #LUC!EN via Flickr
Tonight was a night that I have been waiting over a month for. With tickets in hand I joined my parents as we entered the theater to see Michael Jackson‘s This Is It. To say that the movie was awesome would somehow be selling it short because This Is It is more than just a film or even a documentary.
This Is It represents something more akin to viewing the most recent pictures or home movies of a family member or friend who has recently passed away. My feelings while experiencing this event-because that is what it really is-were not unlike the feelings I have when I see pictures of my grandfather that were taken months before his passing. The difference being that some of the footage used to make This Is It was taken weeks,days;perhaps even hours before Michael’s death.
Here was a side of Michael Jackson I never knew. I watched in amazement as an undeniably healthy Michael rehearsed and perfected a show that would have been beyond anything I would have expected. He danced and sang with so much energy that much of the time I forgot he was fifty years old. Michael knew his music so well that it seemed to emanate from him. Like the music was an extension of the man.
Nothing could impress me more than to see the man whose music and influence have worked into my very soul, do what he did best and do it effortlessly. I swear that the dancers he chose worked harder to keep up with Michael than he did to glide across the stage.
This Is It brings to our attention the truth of Michael Jackson’s last days on Earth. He was at the top of his game, ready for the comeback of a lifetime. That chance was taken away the moment he was killed.
My heart hurts once again as I grieve once more for the passing of a mentor who never knew how special he was to me. At least now I know from seeing This Is It how much it meant to Michael to heal the world through music and how special all those who love him were to him.