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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Documentary)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Educational, Documentary
NR     2008     1hr 40min

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the greatest works of English literature, acclaimed by scholars as the equal of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It has inspired children's stories, translations in prose and poetry, pl...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Fantasy, Educational, History
Studio: Arts Magic
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 03/25/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Great Resource
Eileen Cunningham | Wichita, KS United States | 05/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This British documentary on *Sir Gawain and the Green Knight* is a great resource for teachers of British literature and/or history. It is not a reenactment of the play but a documentary with five parts: "King Arthur and the English Kings," "The Kingship of Richard II," "The Land of Arthur," "The Green Knight," and "The Death of the Fourteenth Century." Bonuses include a segmented interview with Dr. David Matthews, Lecturer in Middle English, Literature, and Culture at Manchester University, and a piece entitled "Chester Cathedral and the Misericords."

The cinematography and music create a haunting mood for the discussion of this anonymous work of literature probably from Cheshire, where the northwestern dialect of Middle English flourished in the fourteenth century. The narrator puts the work within the context of its time, including background information on the Welsh roots of the Arthurian legend and the way Plantagenet kings co-opted the legend to identify the heroic figures with the ruling Norman kings. Much is made of Richard II, who made Chester a principality, bringing, it is argued, the decadence of his court to the northwest.

The video and its bonuses address issues such as the plot, theme, symbolism, and language of the poem, explaining the bob-and-wheel, alliteration, the pentangle, and the spiritual dimensions of the poem. I was interested to see the inclusion of the pagan Green Man as a possible interpretation of the Green Knight. Not a New Ager myself, I am aware that the Green Man has been dusted off for a "new" entry into the twenty-first century, and since he had probably not completely disappeared from the Christian England of the Gawain poet, knowledge of him helps today's student to see a dimension of the poem that may have been unclear to previous generations of readers.

I gave the program a 5-star rating despite the fact that in the bonus interview with Dr. Matthews, the questions which appear on screen contain misspellings that detract from the otherwise high quality of this documentary. With that caveat, I highly recommend this video for anyone who desires to learn more about medieval English culture.
Distribution Problem Has been rectified--a useful DVD
Medieval Maven | Houston | 12/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I had previously posted a highly negative review of this DVD because twice I had ordered it and twice I had received the wrong DVD (about winter pike fishing) in a package and with a label that identified this particular product content. I have been in correspondence with a representative of the manufacturer and he has gone to great pains to rectify the mistake and he replaced my incorrectly-labeled DVD with the correct one. He has also shared with me assurance that the distribution problem has been rectified and that copies distributed by Amazon will be the correct content. This representative has been extremely gracious and accommodating. He even phoned me at home from London. A+ for customer relations! As to the content of the DVD:Now that I've seen it, I think the material is very useful for providing historical context about the poem's provenance to undergraduates studying this magnificent, but difficult, 14th-century Middle English poem. I am a professor of medieval literature, and I believe this DVD will enhance my undergraduate students' understanding and appreciation of the poem. I would like our library to have a copy for students to check out for themselves. I recommend it and particularly liked the segment about misericords, an aspect of church architecture that is difficult to explain without allowing students (who cannot make a trip to England) to see these unique medieval choir seats and their amazing carvings."