The Green Knight (2021) Screening and Panel Wrap-up

On Tuesday, November 8, as part of the “Producing the Middle Ages” event series and sponsored by the Medieval Studies Graduate Association (MSGA) and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, I and four other graduate students—Lisa D. Camp (Literatures in English), Alexa Gall (Medieval Studies, MSGA Treasurer), Lars Johnson (Literatures in English, MSGA Vice President), and Ryan Randle (Medieval Studies, MSGA President)—hosted a screening of David Lowery and A24’s The Green Knight (2021) followed by an accompanying panel discussion. The Green Knight is a film adaptation of the anonymously authored fourteenth-century, Middle English chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Both poem and film follow Gawain, a recurring character in Arthuriana, as he agrees to a twisted tryst with the titular knight and consequently journeys from the safety of Camelot through the dangerous wilds of his mythical world, finally arriving at the Knight’s Green Chapel after a perilous Christmastime stay at the manor of a lordly huntsman and his lady femme fatale. The film departs from the original poem in some respects, but adheres to its overall plot quite closely. Both the identity of the Green Knight and Gawain’s ultimate fate, for example, are revealed definitively in the poem but A24’s version leaves both ambiguous. These differences between thoroughly medieval romance and more modern movie led to lively discussion after the screening: the event was open to the public and we were pleased to have an intrigued and engaged audience; topics such as modern adaptation of medieval source material, ecocriticism, color theory, and the significance of set design were explored as everyone in attendance—audience members and panelists alike—sought to appreciate the film on a deeper level. Indeed, experts in medieval romance and non-specialists found something to enjoy about the film. The folks at Cornell Cinema generously hosted us for the evening, so we would like to thank everyone involved in making this event possible! We hope to present more events like this screening and panel to the Cornell community soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Panel: Ryan Randle, Dante King, Lisa Camp, Alexa Gall, and Lars Johnson