The Green Knight Ending Explained (Spoilers)

The Green Knight Ending Explained (Spoilers)

Horrorific content by all-horror on March 25th, 2022 | Spoiler | Slow Burn, Wilderness, Thriller, Dangerous Exploration

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A fantasy retelling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The Green Knight: Spoilers Below

The Green Knight Review

A common woman named Essel wakes up her lover Gawain in a brothel on Christmas Day. He is scolded by his mother (implied to be Morgan le Fay) when he returns to Camelot and accepts an invitation from his uncle King Arthur to feast with him at the Round Table. Le Fay performs a ritual in a tower that summons the enigmatic Green Knight, who barges into Arthur's court. He states that any knight able to land a blow on him will win his green ax but must travel to the Green Chapel the following Christmas and receive an equal impact in return. Gawain accepts the challenge. The Knight yields, and Gawain decapitates him with Excalibur. The Knight rises, lifts his severed head, reminds Gawain of the bargain, and leaves.

Arthur reminds Gawain to uphold his end of the challenge one year of revelry later. Gawain leaves for the Green Chapel on horseback, taking the green ax and a green girdle his mother made, who claims that so long as he wears it, no harm will befall him. During his journey, Gawain comes upon a boy scavenging a battlefield full of the corpses of fallen soldiers. Upon his asking for directions to the Green Chapel, the boy points him in the direction of a stream that will lead him there. Shortly afterward, the boy and two others ambush Gawain, tie him up, and steal his horse, ax, and girdle. Gawain frees himself of his bonds with his sword and chases after them. Gawain arrives at an abandoned cottage by nightfall and falls asleep in the bed. Winifred, the ghost of a young woman, awakens Gawain and asks him to retrieve her head from a nearby spring. The next morning, after bringing back her skull to the rest of her skeleton, he finds that the ax has been returned to him.

A fox that Gawain befriends accompanies him on his journey. Gawain accepts the invitation of a Lord to stay in his castle for the night, informing him that the Green Chapel is close by. The Lord's Lady, who resembles Gawain's lover Essel, makes sexual overtures towards him. The Lord proposes an exchange between what he obtains while hunting with whatever Gawain finds at the castle. The Lady shows Gawain the green girdle the following day, claiming she made it herself. In exchange for the girdle, Gawain accedes to her advances. Gawain encounters the Lord in the forest when trying to flee. The Lord kisses Gawain in return for the actions of his Lady, but Gawain does not give him the girdle. The Lord reveals that he captured Gawain's fox but releases it. Gawain finds a boat waiting on a stream, and the fox implores him to abandon his quest. Gawain rides the boat to the chapel where he finds the Green Knight sitting in hibernation; after sleeping through the night, the Green Knight awakens on Christmas Day.

As the Knight swings the ax, Gawain experiences a vision. In it, he flees to Camelot and is crowned king after King Arthur's death. Essel bears his son, but he abandons her and marries a noblewoman, taking the child with him, who comes of age and dies in battle. Many years later, Gawain became a hated king. With his family abandoning him and his castle under siege, he removes the green girdle, and his head falls from his shoulders.

Gawain awakens from this vision, still kneeling on the ground in the Green Chapel. Removing the girdle, he tells the Knight he is ready to die. The Knight praises Gawain for his bravery. The Knight drags his finger across Gawain's throat and says, while kindly smiling, "Now, off with your head" as the film abruptly ends.

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