5 Things We Learned About The Green Knight From The New Blu-Ray

A24's "The Green Knight" Blu-ray dropped this week, and it's got two fantastically fun featurettes that dive deep into the creation of the movie. In the featurettes "Boldest of Blood and Wildest at Heart: Making the Green Knight," and "Practitioners of Magic: Visual Effects," the cast and crew of writer/director David Lowery's sprawling Arthurian epic shared some fascinating facts from behind the scenes.

Alicia Vikander Played Two Roles Because of This Famous Sorceress

"Ex-Machina" star Alicia Vikander felt like she had won the lottery when Lowery told her she would be playing dual roles. She plays Essel, Gawain's (Dev Patel) lover at the court in Camelot, and "The Lady," a mysterious noblewoman who seduces Gawain. Lowery got the idea of having an actor play two roles from a character in the medieval poem upon which the movie was based:

"The idea of her playing multiple characters came because in the original text, Morgan Le Fay is playing, she plays multiple parts in the world, she disguises herself. So I loved the idea of one actor playing multiple parts. Just getting to watch her define these two characters in such different ways and yet finding ways that kind of, reflect one another, was really stunning."

Morgan Le Fay is a sorceress who controls all of the events in the original poem. She first appears as a crone in the court, and in "The Green Knight," the magical elderly woman at the court is none other than Gawain's mom, played by Sarita Choudhury. I'm hoping that the Morgan Le Fay inspiration for Vikander's character isn't entirely literal, or "The Green Knight" has itself a serious Oedipal conundrum. 

The Sets Were Partially Made From Salvaged Materials

"The Green Knight" is epic in scale, but the filmmakers still had to work within the constraint of a modest budget. Jade Healy, the production designer for "The Green Knight," has worked with Lowery on almost every film he's made. Healy worked tirelessly to create sets that would look just as good onscreen as the scenes shot inside real medieval castles. 

One way that she managed to keep costs down was to use salvaged materials to build the set. In the "Making Of" featurette, she shows viewers the various sets she helped build and explains that materials came from just about everywhere. Everything from floor tiles to roof thatching was salvaged from other construction projects or demolitions. It wasn't just cost-effective, it was also super time-effective.

"It's just finding whatever we can find that's salvageable to do it, because then there's a lot less work to get the textures and the aging — it's already there," Healy said. 

Most of the Costumes Were Vegan

On top of recycling building materials, the costumes of "The Green Knight" were also vegan. That's right, "The Green Knight" was one seriously green production. All of the costumes were made from faux fur and faux leather, which turned out to be an interesting problem for costume designer Malgosia Turzanska:

"I started looking at fake furs and fake leathers and realized that a lot of fake leather or faux leather, and a lot of fake fur is just made from plastic. So yes, it is cruelty-free, but it's terrible for the environment. So I started researching bizarre new, for me at least, materials like mycoleather, for example, which is made of fungus. And it has the texture of leather, or the texture of suede really."

That's right, leather made out of mushrooms. They also coated fabric in clay and cracked it to get an "elephant leg" texture, used coconut leather, and created clothes from "bark cloth."

"The material that I think I'm the most excited about is bark-cloth," Turzanka said. "It looks less like leather and more like wool felt. And it's fibers of just tree bark, mushed together and it's a material that has been used especially in Africa for hundreds and hundreds of years."

Patel was taken aback by the sheer variety of fabrics, accessories, and more that Turzanka was able to find.

"She sourced materials from all over the world," Patel marveled.

The Shooting Location was Already a Part of Arthurian Film History

If all of those beautiful castles, forests, and landscapes look familiar, that's probably because "The Green Knight" was shot in a fairly famous filming location. They primarily filmed in County Whitlow, Ireland, where Stanley Kubrick shot his historical epic "Barry Lyndon." Perhaps more importantly, it was also the shooting location for John Boorman's "Excalibur," possibly the most famous King Arthur film adaptation to date.

Director of Photography Andrew Droz Palermo was thrilled with the locations, joking that "it's hard to point a camera in the wrong direction" because of its incredible natural beauty.

They used as little green screen or digital editing as possible for the locations, mostly just removing the modern towns that have cropped up around the medieval castles where they filmed. 

One location that seemed almost miraculous was the green chapel, where Gawain faces down the Green Knight. The team thought they would have to build a set from scratch to get Lowery's vision correct, but they found an abandoned building that worked perfectly, down to the vines and weeds that had taken over.

The First Castle Stand-In Was Made of LEGOs

The VFX featurette shows off the impressive visual effects work that went into making "The Green Knight" a visual smorgasbord. It's fascinating to watch the layers of plates that went into some of the bigger effects, like Gawain's fiery crown or the initial Green Knight beheading, because you can see just how much work went into creating the practical parts of the effects first. 

Nicholas Ashe Bateman, visual effects supervisor with Maere Studios, said that he was heavily inspired by old Hollywood matte paintings and was going out of his way to recreate those using whatever tools he had available. 

"The top line is not 'should we do it digitally or do it practically'," he said. "It's 'what do we want to do?'"

That kind of imaginative thinking led to Lowery sending Bateman a video filmed on his iPhone to demonstrate how he wanted a specific shot tracking down the castle to look. The castle in his video? A LEGO playset. Every dream has to start somewhere. 

"The Green Knight" is available to rent or buy digitally or on 4k Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD.