The Green Knight Ending Explained & Film Analysis

A new film by David Lowry, The Green Knight (2021), recently released, reveals a new look at the Arthurian Knights of the Round Table. The entire tape consists of allegories and not everyone will immediately understand what is the meaning of what is shown in the film The Green Knight. The green knight: meaning, summary, ending

The ending of the tape raises the most questions. To answer them, you need to conduct a detailed analysis of the picture.


Lowry’s tape is based on the novel “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, the author of which is unknown. Not everyone is familiar with the original source, therefore, in order to understand what is the meaning of the picture The  Green Knight, you need to remember the content of the plot.

The protagonist of the picture is the nephew of King Arthur – Sir Gawain. His mother, Morgan le Fay, is the king’s sister, who dreams of her son taking the throne.

For this, Morgan performs a magical ritual that led to the appearance during the celebration of Christmas in the dining room of the King of the Green Knight.

The giant invites any of those present to fight him, but with one condition – the brave man will receive a retaliatory blow only after a year.

Unexpectedly for Morgan, her son, Gawain, answers the call. Having received his legendary sword from Arthur’s hands, the young man cuts off the head of the giant, who does not even think of resisting.

Having given his ax to the brave man and picking up his head, the Knight leaves, warning that in a year Gawain should come to him.

A year has passed. It’s time for Gawain to go to the Green Knight. Morgan, wishing to protect her son from death, gives him a magical belt woven by her.

But getting to the chapel where the Knight is waiting for the young man is not so easy. On the way, Gawain will have to face various difficulties. First he loses his horse and axe. But with the help of the ghost of the drowned woman Winifrid, he returns the ax.

Then the hero meets a talking fox who accompanies him on his journey. After some time, Gawain finds himself near the castle, where Lord Bertilak lives, whose wife looks like the girl of the hero Essel.

Interesting! Actress Alicia Vikander was delighted with the opportunity to play two different female entities at once – commoners Essel and Lady Bertilak.

The hosts offer the guest to stay with them for a couple of days. The young man agrees, but the next day he runs away because of Lady Bertilak, who was trying to seduce the young guest.

Counter attack

Finally, Gawain reaches the chapel. But, seeing the tree giant, the hero cowardly runs away.

Returning to Camelot, Gawain is knighted. Essel gives birth to a son from a knight. But the hero takes the child from his beloved and refuses to marry her, considering her not noble enough for him.

King Arthur dies and Gawain takes the throne. The newly-made king marries, taking an aristocrat as his wife, and starts a war with a neighboring state.

In one of the battles, his son dies. Many years pass. The people of Camelot rebel against the king.

Gawain is forced to hide from the people’s wrath. Desperate, the king takes off his belt and is immediately left without a head.

And suddenly it turns out that Gawain is still standing in front of the Green Knight in the chapel. Realizing that there is no escape from fate, the hero unfastens his belt.

The giant likes the courage of the young man. Kneeling in front of the hero, the Knight smilingly says – “head from the shoulders.”

After the credits, a little girl is shown putting a crown on her head.

Plot Explanation

In the film The Green Knight, the meaning of what is shown is strikingly different from the usual medieval fantasy. The plot moves are so unexpected that they make you think about almost every episode.

Interesting! The film by David Lowry is the third adaptation of the story of Gawain and the Green Knight. It was first directed by Stephen Wicks in 1973. In 1984, another version of the medieval story by the same director was released with Shokon Konner in the image of the Green Knight.

The authors of the picture raise such important topics as:

  • personal growth;
  • sincerity;
  • human dignity.

The image of the protagonist, Sir Gawain, is contradictory. The opinion that develops about the hero at the beginning of the picture changes throughout Gawain’s journey.

The whole path of the young man to the meeting place with the monster is permeated with metaphors and symbolism, through which the meaning of the film The Legend of the Green Knight is conveyed. It is no coincidence that the Giant, like Gawain’s belt, is green, symbolizing life and death. The belt saves the hero from death and at the same time leads him to spiritual and moral decline.

The ax, personifying honor and virtue, is also of considerable importance. That is why he returns to the hero after committing the first selfless act – helping the ghost girl.

But at the same time, the ax is a symbol of death. Gawain himself brings it to the Green Knight, thus showing valor and readiness to fulfill his duty.

What is the essence of the ending

Many viewers were perplexed by the ending of The Legend of the Green Knight, forcing them to think about the meaning of the final words of the Giant. Was he joking or was he really going to decapitate the hero?

Perhaps the Giant did not intend to take the life of Gawain, but only wanted to teach him a lesson. Indeed, at the beginning of the film, the hero was a rather frivolous, stupid young man, dreaming only of a future knighthood and a place next to the king at the Round Table. But the journey led to the transformation of the hero. The cowardly youth became a brave knight, ready to accept death with honor.

If you think about it, it doesn’t matter if Gawain is still alive or not. After all, the true meaning of the film is not about what happened to the hero of the “The Green Knight”, but about his spiritual path, which led to self-knowledge and improvement of skills.

It is possible that the mysterious girl shown after the credits is Gawain’s daughter. This may mean that the Giant released the young man, and the girl – his daughter and future queen of Camelot.

“The Green Knight” with a deep philosophical meaning has become one of the best films of 2021. The picture allowed not only to plunge into a fantastic world, but also to think about the choice that every person has to make throughout life.

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