Ain’t Them Bodies (Decapitated) Saints: Director David Lowery on a Scene From ‘The Green Knight’

Ain’t Them Bodies (Decapitated) Saints: Director David Lowery on a Scene From ‘The Green Knight’

What do a decapitated Christian saint and the 1984 Star Wars TV movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure have in common? They were both influences on writer-director David Lowery, whose commentary in a new video explains how these two seemingly disparate things came together to inform a scene in his new movie The Green Knight, in theaters this weekend.

The New York Times has posted an “Anatomy of a Scene” video in which Lowery walks you through a full five-minute scene from The Green Knight, unpacking the various influences at play. Note that this video is somewhat confusingly labeled: it says, “Take a Journey with Dev Patel,” but it’s Lowery who provides the commentary. Patel is the star of the film; he plays Gawain in this adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. However, you won’t see him (or much of anything) at first because the scene starts out shrouded in darkness in a cottage in the countryside.

Saint Winifred in The Green Knight

Lowery’s breakthrough film was Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The Green Knight draws from the history and lore of real Christian saints: specifically, Saint Winifred, a 7th-century Welsh virgin martyr. Tradition holds that a jealous suitor decapitated Winifred after she decided to become a nun.

Guys, that’s not the way to handle rejection.

Thankfully, as Lowery explains, someone threw her head into a spring and a saint came along, rejoined it to her body, and she came back to life. This spring endures as a place called Holy Head in Wales, which reputedly has healing powers.

In the video, Lowery notes the “striking presence” of Erin Kellyman, the actress who plays Winifred, who he first saw in Solo: A Star Wars Story and who at-home audiences recently saw in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+. He also sprinkles in some other interesting tidbits about how they shot on location in Ireland but wanted it to look like a soundstage in an old Hammer Horror film.

Elsewhere, Lowery has cited Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Dark Crystal, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, and Willow as key influences on The Green Knight. Here, he saves the Ewoks reference for last, explaining how Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure inspired him to film a sequence of his own where Gawain dives into a magical pond to retrieve Winifred’s head. If the cosmic effects look wonky, it’s because Lowery did them himself “using YouTube tutorials.”

The Green Knight is in theaters now. Read our review here.

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