Final The Mermaid and the Unicorn Review Links / Thoughts on The Green Knight

19 May

I was waiting to announce all the winners together, but apparently you have a few more days. The winners for the Witchslayer’s Scion GC have received theirs, but there’s still time to enter the draw for The Mermaid and the Unicorns

Book Reviews:

Fabulous and Brunette

The Avid Reader

Huge thank you to everyone who’s been following along since the end of April, and especially to the reviewers as I know that there’s a lot of people who want not only reviews, but favorable ones and all that. I like it when you’re honest, let’s leave it at that.

Thoughts on The Green Knight

I haven’t really watched too many new movies besides anything I’ve paid to stream, so we’re sitting at like 2 in the past two years. I wanted to see The Green Knight because I’ve studied the story and some other medieval literature. If you’re unfamiliar with the tale, you can google a written version of it but here’s an animated version that’s reasonably faithful:

I’ll be the first one to defend older Disney titles when they really took liberties with tales to extend them to an hour and a half (more like 75 minutes but whatever) and I really didn’t mind that The Green Knight was shot with more of an intent to show cool visuals (attractive people can look weird and I question historical accuracy but then the scenery looks amazing and I find myself questioning everything, like why his cloak is color X and what I’m missing and is the director screwing with us) or focus more on Gawain’s shortcomings as opposed to the heroic knight figure that was implied in the story. I could go on and on about the notions of Christianity / Paganism, or life / death, bravery / cowardice, etc., but I found the central thing I wanted to talk about being, “Why am I okay with a formalistic interpretation of one work, when I didn’t like The Wheel of Time adaptation? There aren’t a million interpretations of Gawain and the Green Knight, surely we should have a more straight forward adaptation.”

The short answer is the Morte D’Arthur and Robin Hood have multiple interpretations and, in the case of Robin Hood, some characters aren’t added to the cannon for centuries. The Brothers Grimm didn’t just make up stories, they composed stories from the oral tradition and adapted them to the written form – so I could only imagine someone excited to get a collection of stories, only to find out that their local variation didn’t stick. “This isn’t right! The treacherous servant wasn’t killed, she repented!” or whatever.

Wheel of Time though by some measure IS an interpretation of The Legend of King Arthur – it’s not obvious (at least it wasn’t to me) and I’ll talk more about WoT specifically as I’m approaching the half way mark on the final audiobook so I will talk about it after I’m done. Rand is Arthur (as well as Artur Hawkwing) Lan is Lancelot, Nyneave is Nimue (Lady of the Lake) Moraine is Morgan at the same time as representing other mythology and lore as well.

The difference is though is not only have we had multiple interpretations of King Arthur tales, but often times the old stories do leave some room for interpretation of the character personalities, as well as flesh out a story. A story in history might be summed up in a few paragraphs, but depending on what the director wants to focus on, there’s room to really explore a story or a time period and make it feel immersive for the audience.

The difference, is we haven’t had an onscreen adaptation of Wheel of Time before. Even if there was a relatively good animated version, until we have a faithful live-action version of Camelot, we won’t appreciate Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail. I understand the desire to want to make it appeal to the audience, I think ultimately what’s going on is you’re going to get the fans that like something else and want something else and alienate the fans of the books.

That, and Wheel of Time already goes at great length to flesh out the major characters and the world. There are multiple books, and while I’ll be the first to complain that the first book took a while to get going, there’s certain things an author can do in a longer series that they can’t do in a stand a lone book.

Take something like Robin Hood or King Arthur – there’s no definitive version so long as you stay somewhat true. The audience may still dislike it, and while I think that were definitely things in The Green Knight basically to appeal to the Game of Thrones crowd – the beginning where Gawain wakes up in a brothel and we see tits in the background for really no good reason – it’s not offensive because no one “owns” the lore.

I think if you’re going to watch The Green Knight and expect an epic fantasy adventure, you’re going to be disappointed when you see something that comes across as more of a film that paints Gawain’s fears and short comings front and center stage. There aren’t any knightly heroics and him doing the things we would want – fighting villains, though he does rescue a maiden it’s not in the way you’d expect. I don’t think it’s a bad interpretation of Gawain as he overcomes his short comings as opposed to setting out already as a virtuous person and having those virtues tested, but it’s more artsy and less action adventure, but given the source material I think it’s fine.

So TL;DR, that’s also the problem with Rings of Power. People are trying to lean their own ideas into Tolkien’s world (“Modernizing” Tolkien), and I say Tolkien didn’t like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, I doubt this is going to go the way the show runners think it will.

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