Off-Campus History

Episode 11 - The Green Knight with Morgan Moore

January 3, 2022

On today’s episode, we’re discussing the 2021 film The Green Knight!

The Green Knight is a 2021 film directed and written by David Lowery. The film is based on the Arthurian tale “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” which was first recorded as a poem in a fourteenth-century English manuscript. In both the original poem and the film, the story follows Gawain, a nephew of King Arthur who undertakes a quest to face the Green Knight and fulfil a promise made one year prior. Along the way, Gawain experiences strange and magical trials and tribulations. On today’s episode, we delve into the history behind The Green Knight—including the origins of Arthurian legends, how and why the movie differs from the original poem, and how the movie portrays the medieval world.

To discuss all this with me, I’m joined by Morgan Moore. Morgan is a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. Her research is about the relationship between performance and manuscripts in medieval England and Wales. As part of that expertise, she knows a lot about Arthurian tales generally and the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight poem particularly!

For those who’d like to learn more about the origins of the King Arthur legend, check out Tom Shippey’s review of Nicholas Higham’s book King Arthur: The Making of the Legend in the London Review of Books: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v40/n24/tom-shippey/so-much-smoke. And for those who want to understand the movie a little better, including some comments directly from the director, check out these Vox and Vanity Fair articles: https://www.vox.com/22585318/green-knight-explained-ending-spoilers-girdle-winifred-temptation; https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2021/07/green-knight-ending-explained-does-he-die-gawain-dev-patel.

Also, for those interested in getting more involved in academically studying this type of topic, check out the Celtic Studies Association of North America, of which Morgan is a board member! Learn more at https://celticstudies.org/.

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music are clips from “Mystery!” which recorded in 1919 by Paul Biese and his Novelty Orchestra. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

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