Many stories have morals. While such morals could be stated directly, perhaps via witty aphorisms, many claim that we use stories to make our moral lessons clearer and more vivid, to show us how they are applied in concrete familiar situations. As Jesus did with his parables. Sounds helpful, right?
Winifred returned the axe as thanks for retrieving her head. That's why he finds it in the house, and has it back well before the castle.
The movie is more interesting when you consider the moral and psychological significance of Gawain removing the sash at the end
Films I want Robin-Hanson-reviews of:-The Grand Budapest Hotel-Scarface-The Martian
The source material has the same issue: Gawain is far from a perfect knight, but the poem tends to play it more for comedy.
I don't see how you see it as clear that GK won't kill him.
The Green Knight also dissed any attempt to be interesting or engaging. You've explained most of the substance of the film here in just a few paragraphs. The film itself took that tiny amount of substance and stretched it out to two hours. No action sequences, very few interesting set pieces, bland colors, and poor, sparse dialogue.
Public glory doesn't necessarily equate to actual glorious behavior. Gawain is about the farthest thing from stereotypical glory that one can be. He's defeated by child bandits. He doesn't ever wield a weapon. And he behaves in an embarrassing fashion around women. The portrait of Gawain the movie presents to the viewer is very unflattering. Yet he is regarded by the realm as an honorable and glorious knight who slew the Green Knight and is embarking bravely on a dangerous quest.
Gawain does have a few moments of somewhat glorious behavior but they all feel robbed from him. He chooses to dive into the lake and fulfill the ghost's wish by recovering her skull. But that feat's difficulty is downplayed and nothing ever comes of it afterwards. He saves himself from being tied up, but he never goes to confront his captors (Important note: the child robber steals Gawain's axe yet Gawain mysteriously has it again by the time he gets to the castle. Did I miss how Gawain got the axe back or is this just a blatant discongruity?). And he successfully fights his fears and keeps to his word allowing the Green Knight to strike him, but it looks as if the Green Knight is going to rob him even of this glory by refusing to strike.
I think making a movie about a deliberately unglorious character and not adding in good dialogue or something to maintain interest was a bad idea.
It's about honor. Gawain made a promise. That's not something one should do lightly or insincerely. In the vision he saw that weaseling out of his promise might lead to worldly power . . . but he wouldn't be the man he wants to be.
And I don't think the ending is at all ambiguous. The Green Knight is clearly not going to kill him.
For me the real mystery is Morgan's role in all this. It's seemingly her magic that summons (creates?) the Green Knight. Was she expecting all of Arthur's men to refuse the challenge, and Gawain taking it up was a surprise to her?
In the original poem, Gawain leaves the "magic" sash on and the Green Knight makes a small scratch on Gawain's neck, teases Gawain for having been tricked into breaking the promise he made (to return any gifts he receives while a guest at the Green Knight's castle, which would include the sash) and tells him to go home and have a good laugh about the whole thing.
If the original poem had a moral, it seems to have been something like "it's okay to be less than perfect", with the Green Knight essentially telling Gawain that the test he set for him was unfair so he's not going to punish Gawain for failing it. The director said in an interview that what he was trying to explore with the movie was what kind of mindset would make it seem like dying over a trivial point of honor was the objectively correct thing to do.
I thought there was enough foreshadowing for the viewer to assume that Gawain survives his beheading, even if we don't see it on the screen.The Lord (who we see transforming into the green knight later on) says on multiple occasions that Gawain will be returning home in glory. When the GK speaks the "Now, off with your head" line, he uses an ironic tone of voice.
In addition, we see a parallel scene earlier in the movie with a happy conclusion. A trio of theives ties Gawain up and says "You rest bones, I'll finish your quest for you." Gawain sees a future where he has become a rotted skeleton, which inspires him escape from the rope by cutting it on a sword. This is painful (we see him knick his hand in the process) but ultimately saves his life.
This scene has so many parallells to the end of the movie A) arecommendation to give up B) a frightening vision of what happens if he does give up C) avoiding this future by removing a rope/sash and D) liberating yourself from the rope/sash requires you to seek exposure to a blade.
The end of film, IMHO, is a tribute to a particular kind of courage where you do what your system 2 thinks is beneficial, even though your system 1 thinks it's the path to ruin. By denying the viewer an "all is well" scene, the film invites the viewer to join in Gawain's struggle to trust his system 2 belief that courage will deliver him from ruin, against his system 1 belief that his big freakin' axe will kill him.
It seemed to me a rejection. Once he had chosen his quest, there were no good options left. The mistake was to quest at all.
This is maybe an equally un-elite reading, but I got a much more ambiguous message out of it. The question that hangs over the film, first posed by Essel (as you mentioned), is basically "what is the point"? Why bother with this silly, arbitrary quest that is understood as a "game" even by its participants, and that is explicitly going to end with Gawain's death? Why obsess over honour and glory like this, when you could settle for the much more sensible choice of having a nice boring life back in Camelot?
The movie spends the whole middle part ruminating on this question, and there's no shortage of scenes showing how Gawain's glorious quest isn't particularly romantic or glorious in practice. Yet at the same time, there are flashes of genuine majesty as well, such as when Gawain encounters the giants. It's not all sunshine and rainbows, but it's not all being wet and cold and foraging for mushrooms either.
At the end, Gawain (seemingly) makes the modern, reasonable choice, and goes back to Camelot instead of getting decapitated for "glory". Except, being "good instead of great" doesn't go so well for Gawain. In fact, it goes terribly. He treats Essel badly, gets his son killed in battle, becomes king but is hated by his people, and we last see him as an invading army is about to break into his throne room.
When it's revealed that this was just a vision Gawain was having of a possible future if he abandons his quest, he seems to accept his "glorious" death at the hands of the Green Knight much more gladly. While I wouldn't call this a ringing endorsement of the "glory is worth dying for" narrative, I wouldn't call it a rejection of it either.
2nd paragraph, not 1st
“encoded elusively” -> “apparently encoded elusively” in 1st paragraph would I think make this post clearer, as you make it clear further down that you don’t believe the unmodified version.