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A musical mind with recent revelations
I knew not what to expect when I watched this film with my fiance about a month ago. Mistakenly I'd thought it to be a work by Tolkien, but no; it is a film based on an old Angle-Saxon poem, written around the same time as Beowulf (unless I'm mistaken again). Like most poetry from the age, it is about virtue and morality, full of symbolism and allegory rather than direct and on-the-nose storytelling.

I'll not summarize the poem or the film, but just give my thoughts. Spoilers: I loved it. Not just for the cinematography or the acting, or the visuals--but for the music which I'll get to in a second but also the language in the film. I love Latin, but also have been growing to learn more about Old English (the recordings made by the vocal group Anonymous 4 gave me a love for the language). Tolkien too has a hand in my interest, as pretty much most things from Rohan are based on Anglo-Saxon culture. But I digress--the language in the film is beautiful, and the pronunciation was perfect. I think overall that the film is the perfect screen rendition of something so old, and done just so incredibly well.

Now, I can understand why it may have fallen flat with general members of the audience. Long, 'boring' shots of 'nothing'; the language being not so easily understood; the plot not being clear, certain sections of the film (him seeing the migrating giants, or when he succumbs to lust, or even the very end--ambiguous!) But it's sort of sad that some folks aren't able to have a love or interest in something which is old. Knowledge and appreciation of a thing will lend a hand in enjoyment of it when presented in a different format, I guess.

I'd like to talk about the music now. Normally I don't really enjoy film soundtracks; usually it's generic or unnoticed, or predictable or too much of a packaged product. My guilty pleasure soundtracks include, though: LOTR, Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, and all the Pirates of the Caribbean films, except the fifth. But the music in this movie...according to articles, Daniel Hart knew nothing about medieval music so it was a huge challenge for him. The musical forces include a small, all-female choir; recorders, strings (including a viol--old old instrument) and a nyckelharpa, one of which was built specifically for the film which Daniel learned to play. Next to the gamba, this is one of my favourite string instruments; it just sounds so old and elegant.
But the soundtrack to the film is immaculate; its blend of old instruments as well as synths (he took inspiration from both Wendy Carlos Williams, and from Kubrick's film The Shining. What I love about the soundtrack to The Green Knight is its effectiveness--not just as a companion to what is shown on screen, but its ability to transport the listener directly into the ancient world. It is transfixing; it shows wonder and terror and trepidation; it shows love and tenderness. From a pedantic point of view, I also really appreciate it when soundtracks stick to tonality and don't change keys too often (as is wont for with common films). This...this music is just perfect.

And not only did Daniel write much of it himself, but one of the pieces was made by Hildegard von Bingen, many centuries ago in her own constructed language lingua ignota (and another example may be heard here too). 'Aiganz O Kulzphazur' is the title of the track from the film. Seriously, this soundtrack may just be my next intense hyperfixation, which I have not had in may years since 2019, when I discovered the Ballet Royal de la Nuit from the 1650's.

Overall, this film will definitely be on my Christmas-film list; maybe I'll watch it once a year.
It's one of those films, I feel, you need to see at least twice to grasp all that is being presented, and to gain a greater appreciation.
I didn't know about this film, but sounds right up my alley. Was my favorite of the Arthurian stories.
I didn't know about this film, but sounds right up my alley. Was my favorite of the Arthurian stories.
Oh, were you planning on seeing it? The only familiarity I have with Arthurian stories is...well, the 80's Excalibur film. Traumatized me as a kid, but I hear it's well-renowned.
It's one of those films, I feel, you need to see at least twice to grasp all that is being presented, and to gain a greater appreciation.
O, I agree with you--we regard it as a Christmas movie, so we'll watch it again around December. I'm impatient already!

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