Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Ralph Ineson: “My character challenges and tests humanity”

A suggestive frame from the trailer

Sometimes it seems that doom is raging on those who least deserve it: this is the case with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (in originale The Green Knight), film by David Lowery inspired by the 14th century chivalric poem of the same name. It is the story of Sir Gawain (Galvano, played by Dev Patel), one of the knights of the Round Table. Challenged by the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), Sir Gawain agrees to give him a killing blow, in exchange for being the one to receive it exactly a year later.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Dev Patel in a moment in the film

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was due to attend the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 16, 2020: we all know what happened and the event was canceled. A24, which produces, has postponed the theatrical release several times. In Italy the film will be released on November 16 directly in streaming, your Amazon Prime Video. On the one hand it is positive news, because finally even the Italian public can enjoy one of the most beautiful titles released in recent years, on the other hand it is really a shame: David Lowery has made a film of dazzling beauty, almost a painting in motion. Shot in Ireland, on a budget of $ 15 million, the film seems to have cost at least twice as much.

In addition to the beautiful natural landscapes, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight can count an excellent cast: in addition to the protagonist Dev Patel, there are also the Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Barry Keoghan and Sarita Choudhury. We were able to speak with Ralph ineson, the Green Knight himself: the actor, with his incredible voice, told us about the film via Zoom.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: an ever-present story

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Poster of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Green Knight is a monster. Monsters are a powerful metaphor: what can we learn from monsters in your opinion?

I don’t see him as a monster. I had to play it, so I had to look for the humanity behind the monster. He is a monster in the sense that he is more than a man: he is more powerful, stronger and almost immortal. He’s been around for hundreds of years doing the same thing over and over: throwing challenges. He lives above human life thanks to his immortality. I wouldn’t call him a monster, but one who challenges and tests humanity.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is hundreds of years old, but it is still relevant today. What do you think the Green Knight’s ax represents?

I think the story of the young noble, who spends his money and time on clothes, women and alcohol, with his mother trying to push him to make sense of his life, is a universal and timeless story. Every mother wants her children to exploit their potential. It is the heart of the film: that’s why he calls the Green Knight, to challenge him and set this process in motion. Then he spends the rest of the movie making bad decisions. He fulfills his mission by trying to find himself, his honor and his courage. I think it’s a modern story in the sense that it tells about self-discovery.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the review: the world of legends in a masterpiece on Prime Video

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Ralph Ineson is the Green Knight

What was it like to transform into the Green Knight?

On the set I was wearing a lot of prosthetic makeup: the look of the Green Knight was fundamental to the film. I had to rely on make-up artists: I abandoned my image and let myself be transformed. The make-up and costume didn’t give me much freedom of interpretation. I worked with the eyes, the nuances of my interpretation are there.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: a scene with the Green Knight

So what was it like doing the action scenes with all that makeup on?

It was difficult to hear and see: the prostheses covered my ears, it was like being underwater, the sound was muffled and I didn’t even see well. It was a really weird experience to have all that stuff on for such a long time. Physically it was exhausting. I couldn’t move fast, but it became a character trait. While I was moving like that I thought I didn’t sound strong enough, but then I thought that, thanks to the sound design, I would seem even more powerful, solemn. So I stopped trying to move quickly, slowing down the movements. The character immediately became more powerful.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Dev Patel during a scene from the film

In the film, the characters wonder why the color is green. What does it represent for you?

I really like walking, I take walks with my dogs, so green for me is always nature. It is spring, it is a return to nature. So for me it represents a new beginning, a new life. But it can also be interpreted in a different way: in the film it is the color of death, of decomposition. For me it is life, but for some it is death.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Dev Patel in a sequence

Did you learn something you didn’t know about yourself thanks to the Green Knight?

It is always linked to the fact of not having all the senses available. When I arrived on the set of the Green Chapel, at the end of the film, which is a real chapel, they had little retouching, I couldn’t see well, but, since we were in a wood, I could smell the wild garlic. It’s a really strong smell. My senses were overwhelmed by all of this. In that scene I felt the strong emotion of being part of nature: I had become this creature of the earth. For the first time in my life I identified with a character thanks to the sense of smell.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a cinematic experience


The Green Knight: un character poster del film

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is so beautiful it’s a real shame not to be able to see him on a big screen. Streaming is great and super comfortable, but do you agree that seeing a movie like this at the cinema is something else entirely?

Yes. I don’t think any home cinema is able to replicate the theater experience. Not only for the size of the screen, but also for sharing with the public. It’s always nice to see a movie with other viewers. It is a very powerful experience. In the specific case of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a detail that is totally different in the room is the sound design. The sound of my horse’s hooves when I arrive in Camelot is so loud that it makes the hall tremble. The sound design made the character huge and powerful. As good as your implant is, you can’t have that experience at home. It is a purely cinematic moment.

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