David Lowery, the director of the widely acclaimed “The Green Knight,” expressed praise for “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” during a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Lowery answered questions from movie enthusiasts on Reddit about his own recent films, as well as his favorite movies and thoughts on the movie industry.
A Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) is an interactive Q&A session on Reddit, the social news and entertainment website where registered users can submit content in the form of links or text posts and vote on submissions and comments. The AMA began promptly at 3 pm Eastern time and the director graciously answered about 220 questions over the course of four hours.
Lowery noted in his introduction that he has five cats, has been vegan for almost 20 years, and loves talking about movies more than anything else.
Lowery is familiar to fans of director Zack Snyder, who recommended David Lowery’s film “A Ghost Story” on Vero back in July 18, 2017, shortly after leaving production on “Justice League” in the wake of his family tragedy. Snyder commented, “Seen it twice.” Notably, “A Ghost Story” deals with grief and loss.
Here’s an edited selection of questions and answers.
Lowery on Zack Snyder’s work
HarwoodSFine: What are your thoughts on the Snyder Cut and director’s cuts in general? Loved The Green Knight, I saw it at my local theater.
DL (DavidLowery_TGK): I loved The Snyder Cut! It was a great movie. Some director’s cuts are better than others. Apocalypse Now never got better than the original cut, in my opinion. But Blade Runner did? I could definitely edit a better version of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints now, nine years later, but…..I’d rather let it rest.
Sam_likes_films: I’m sure you’ve been asked about it before, but what are your favorite movies of 2021 so far?
DL: Shiva Baby! And maybe Justice League? Also had a great time with the Fear Street trilogy. I’ve only seen 87 movies so far this year. I need to catch up. I’ve mostly seen older films the past few months.
TheGerty: Are there any films for you like that? Ones that you viewing it with one opinion (potentially negative) but manifested into a much more positive reception?
DL: I mean, I mentioned it above, but I did not expect to be so moved by the new cut of Justice League, much less to watch it in one sitting!
Lowery on ‘A Ghost Story’
Conway___west: I loved A Ghost Story – what a beautiful film. Can you share with us the hardest loss you’ve dealt with and how?
DL: Not quite ready to talk about it yet!
LosCodos: In both A Ghost Story and The Green Knight, you address very broad themes about mortality and existence. What draws you to these more universal ideas instead of narrower themes and arcs? This is part of what I love about your movies btw.
DL: It’s what I lie awake at night thinking about! It’s always on my mind. I’m at peace with mortality and so curious about existence.
Lowery on ‘The Green Knight’ (potential spoilers)
jgreenswordfishii: What is the Green Knight?
DL: A conjured being from an older world. And / or a movie released in the summer of 2021!
peterhohman: Are there any Arthurian film adaptations that influenced some of your decisions on what to do/what NOT to do with The Green Knight?
DL: We definitely decided not to do chrome armor after revisiting Excalibur! Although it’s awesome in that movie.
grusk: Would you be interested in directing more Arthurian legends? For example, a remake of Boorman’s Excalibur or your own take on it?
DL: No direct remakes, but yes, I’d definitely be interested in living in this world some more.
beachsidevibe: Which writer’s telling of Arthurian tales is your favorite, besides the anonymous writer of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Have you ever read Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and would you be interested in directing an adaptation? I could see it suiting your style. Really enjoyed and loved your movie. I need to watch it again with subtitles and look forward to owning a physical release!
DL: Weirdly, I have not read the Twain book! I should. I need to read more Arthurian interpretations! I grew up with Mallory and that’s about it.
pey_chan: What is your favorite translation of the original poem from “The Gawain Poet?” (it’s Marie Borroff’s for me).
DL: Hers is great. I came to the Tolkien one late and was really taken with it – I love how he hews closer to Middle English. I recommend the Armitage one to folks who want a more modern read.
pey_chan: One very specific element that I appreciate is your choice NOT to call out by name those “familiar” Arthurian characters and symbols that might otherwise direct viewers to “quickly understand” which plane of history we’re navigating (King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Merlin, Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur, Camelot, etc.). Could you share anything specific about your headspace in making this very intentional decision to omit the naming of these characters and symbols in the script?
DL: A short answer for your long and valiant question! I just felt that if I named Arthur, from the get-go, his legacy would overwhelm my very simple script. So I just called him The King, and carried forth from there…
pey_chan: Patel’s stunning performance becomes even more remarkable when I have to remind myself how infrequently people of color are cast for roles within the “Arthurian / medieval” umbrella. Whether your decision to cast Patel as Gawain was an effortless and simple one, or one done with the intentional purpose of “breaking racial barriers,” the impact is undeniable. Patel is not the only person of color depicted in this film, and I so appreciate your attentiveness to representation, and your boldness to challenge the white-washed history of medieval Europe. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the casting process, if you have any further thoughts to share.
DL: Another short answer to a great question: the decision was quick and easy and based simply on liking Dev for the part, but the impact and import of this whim is not lost on me, nor was it far from my mind while we were shooting. Seeing King Arthur look him in the eye and say – “It is good to have one’s family by one’s side. One’s blood.” – is incredibly important to me.
pey_chan: Can you speak to your decision to give the giants a more pronounced role in the film (versus their one-line mention in the poem)? How does the double-meaning of Gawain’s attempt to “ride on the shoulders of giants” play into his quest for greatness and the criticisms of the character?
DL: I just love giants. And you have hit the nail on the head with your interpretation. More food for thought: all of the giants are women.
patrickwithtraffic: Been getting into some discussions with some friends on this, but did you write Gawain to fail to live up to the five knightly virtues (friendship, generosity, chastity, courtesy, and piety)? Or am I reading way too much into Arthurian legends?
DL: He doesn’t fail each one to the letter but that was definitely the idea.
freebeens: I don’t see many reviews/explanations mentioning him eating mushrooms. I think this is a pretty big deal especially since he sees giants not long after. Is it a big deal for more than just the tripping scene itself? Or is tripping just another test
DL: The giants are such a big jump into magic and wonder that we wanted to sort of set the stage with a loosening of reality prior. Hence the mushrooms!
LeroyJenkins4550: Was the Opening in TGK directly inspired by LOTR’s opening monologue? loved the film!
DL: A little! That wasn’t originally there and the flaming head vision appeared later, but a friend suggested I set the stage with it instead, and mentioned Galadriel’s opening VO in LOTR as a reference. Brilliant note! The monologue is my own translation of a part of the poem. The voices are my own and my wife’s, combined.
hazyel: In regards to the difference in the ending of the poem and film: In the poem, the green knight reveals himself to be the lord of the castle whereas in the film this doesn’t appear to be the case at all. What made you come to this decision? Thanks in advance!
DL: He’s the Lord Of the Castle, but enchanted by Morgana. Too complicated and too easy at the same time! I went for a broader approach.
Stasz18: Just wanted to say you’ve become one of my favorite directors since A Ghost Story and Green Knight is just as gorgeous. I was curious on the relationship between Gaiwan and the Green Knight. At the end when GK smiles at him and says “off with your head.” Was it meant to be friendly thinking Gaiwan has learnt his lesson. I felt like GK saw something of himself in Gaiwan right there. Was that the intention for them?
DL: Yes. Exactly!!!!!
baat: What was the point of the post credits scene in The Green Knight?
DL: I wanted people to leave the theater feeling optimistic. That was a little moment we grabbed on set and it just makes me happy.
NoDisintegrationz: What’s one thing that you think separates your version of The Green Knight from other adaptations of Arthurian legend?
DL: Well, we never mention the name King Arthur, for one!
Lowery on potential future films
Karl-Dilkingt0n: Hi David, thanks for taking time to do this AMA. What was the rationale behind not naming Morgan Le Fay, Merlin, and the other notable characters from the film?
DL: I wanted the Arthurian nature of the tale to recede into the background a bit. Most characters in the movie have no credited name.
Orange_Lazarus: Please make more of these. Make Arthurian legend your MCU.
DL: I would love to make another Arthurian movie.
GranddaddySandwich: Are you looking to elaborate on the world you’ve built with the Green Knight? Is there a potential sequel, or prequel in mind?
DL: No sequel or prequel, but I would like to make another Arthurian movie at some point….maybe focused on Morgana
Chadouken87: Hola! Huge fan of your work, after seeing The Green Knight I was wondering if there are other Arthurian legends you’d like to adapt
DL: Percival and some version of the grail quest maybe? But probably something adjunct with Morgana La Fey. Love the story where she turns Merlin into a tree!
JoshuaMillard17: I read that you have been wanting to do a green knight movie for a long time now. Are there any other stories you have been dying to tell?
DL: There probably are! When I was young I really loved Greek Mythology and wanted to make a movie about Medusa. Been thinking about that again lately.
Lowery on inspirations
martymcguy100: What films inspired you growing up?
DL: Prior to the age of ten, it was anything Lucasfilm. Ten to twelve, it was all Tim Burton. Then I saw Pulp Fiction when I was 13 and that expanded my horizons considerably.
bling24k: Your favorite foreign film(s)??
DL: Too many to list! Claire Denis is always up there for me. Olivier Assays (watching Personal Shopper again tonight!). I recently got back into Bergman after a long time away, thanks to that Criterion box set. Roy Andersson. Mia Hansen-Love. Mizoguchi. Reygadas. Kurosawa. Varda! The list goes on. All the greats. Can’t wait to see the new Tsai Ming Liang film.
Modest_Matt: What filmmakers have inspired you the most, and who are your favourites working today?
DL: It might be a cliche to say Paul Thomas Anderson, but there you go! I feel like I’ve grown up on his movies and watching him grow from one film to the next has been next-level inspiring.
jonbon_0507: What’s some advice you can give new writers/directors? Should I go to film school? Should I try to make a short film? How do I keep my stories genuine and make sure they do not trail off? How do you layer meaning into your films? How do I get connected?
DL: I didn’t go to film school, and sometimes regret it but mostly I don’t. Regardless, DEFINITELY make short films! Make as many as you can! Learn, try, fail, fail again, gradually succeed, and in doing so find the way in which you and you alone can communicate through cinema! And watch lots of movies. Never stop watching movies.
Lowery on cats
Terj_Sankian: As a vegan, were you extra cautious using horses on set? Or did you maybe tape a bunch of cats together to keep the horses safe?
DL: Yes, I love working with animals, just because I love animals, but it’s always a tense thing because their well-being is always on my mind. We have the humane society on set at all times, but I also follow my own instincts. I have a movie I’ve written about a bunch of cats and I don’t know how to make it because I don’t want to make it without real animals!
TheGirlWithTheLove: Hi David! What are your cats’ names? Have you always been a cat person?
DL: Lil K (short for Little Killer), Baby D (short for Lord Downsington Fuzzbutt, Esquire), George, Albus and Willow. I’ve always been an animal person but have only become a crazy cat person in the last ten years.
You can read David Lowery’s complete answers from the Reddit AMA here.