Dev Patel’s Gawain may or may not be beheaded at the ending of The Green Knight, but the journey he has been on is ultimately most important
David Lowery’s 2021 Arthurian fantasy The Green Knight features an ambiguous ending where it’s not immediately clear whether the protagonist Gawain lives or dies. By the rules of the challenge he has agreed to, Gawain must allow the Green Knight to behead him. However, the film cuts to a title card before the execution occurs, suggesting Gawain may have survived.
Based on a fourteenth-century poem, The Green Knight sees Gawain issued an unusual challenge on Christmas Day: to inflict any wound on the mysterious knight, and have the same injury returned to him one year later. When Gawain arrogantly beheads the green knight, he is horrified to see the figure pick up his own head and depart. A year later, Gawain must then go on a quest to find the knight once again, knowing that if he honors his agreement, it will mean the loss of his life.