As one of the most well-received films of 2021, not to mention one of the best adaptations of Arthurian lore, The Green Knight went down as an instant cult classic, with the creatives behind the latest A24 film now revealing the process of bringing Camelot and its surrounding lands to life.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, production designer Jade Healy and cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, the latter of whom some of you may know from his 2017 collaboration with The Green Knight director David Lowery on acclaimed existential supernatural drama A Ghost Story.
On how he and Lowery managed to develop a modern-looking film so overtly artistic in nature, the cinematographer gave an interesting answer.
“Initially David pitched the movie as an epic journey, but he also wanted it to be as artistic and as personal as [A Ghost Story]. That kind of pushed the camera language to really wide-angle lenses, really feeling these vast landscapes, but not being afraid to get very close to our subjects with these wide-angle lenses so that they feel large and dynamic within a frame. But it was important for us, for his journey, that we don’t lose the sense of the environment.”
As for the composition of all those scenes, Palermo says that he took inspiration from the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, and movies like Frantisek Vlácil’s Valley of the Bees.
“As far as color, we both really wanted to make a very modern film, and for it to have some snap and some pop to it. We were both fearful to go down the path that so many have gone down before us, where these films can be really kind of grainy and gritty and desaturated. I think that look can be great, but it’s just not something that interested us for this piece, and we wanted to be more expressive with our color.”
Palermo went on to discuss his favorite scene in the entire film; namely, the montage at the end when the Green Knight sees his entire existence play out in his mind in a manner of minutes. “There’s 20 years flashing before [Gawain’s] eyes — something like 10 shots or 15 shots, and how much of that is done wordlessly. I feel so proud that the imagery tells the story so well”.
The Green Knight also made it to WGTC’s best films of 2021 list, so if you haven’t had the chance to watch the fantasy film, you should try and rectify that as soon as possible.