26 Nov 2021
Lewis Gemmill, Marcus Houden, Ellie Pickering
Too busy to commit to the Green Knight but still craving a hit of Arthurian legend and shape-shifting chicanery? Meet Gallowglass!
With their gratifyingly ancient lineage, the class of Scots-Norse mercenary soldier known as Gallowglass operated throughout the Medieval period across Europe and the British Isles, feared and famed for their prowess in battle.
In this (very) short film, we gain a glimpse into the life of one such charismatic figure whose mission here goes beyond the call of the everyday sword for hire. These are dark times and invading forces of a sinister nature are abroad.
Presaged by whispering voices, now from one direction, now from another, the Lady of the Woods appears. Echoing Morgan Le Fay in attire and intent, she is the quintessential femme fatale.
Brute strength is useless against this blindfolded enchantress, one who sees beyond the mundane physical world, using arcane knowledge and occult powers to wrangle monstrous manifestations of her victims’ worst fears…
Love it or hate it, Gallowglass is an unironic take on the fantasy genre, one in which archetypes rather than individuals inhabit a world of moral certainties and address one another in rhyming couplet.
The small cast is strong and sustains the tone well, transporting us, for three and a half minutes, into this mysterious wooded realm a la Broceliande, where the precise source of danger is elusive, nervous camerawork mimicking Gallowglass’s failure to pinpoint it.
As a statement of intent on the part of writer-director Ed Kirk to mine the genre, Gallowglass is a promising piece, introducing a character with legs and, vitally, a huge sword; Lewis Gemmill in the title role channelling the right combination of recklessness and stoicism.
Is the final scene a slight let-down? Yes, in terms of technical wizardry. But purely in terms of supernatural wizardry it fits the bill and we must trust that Gallowglass can dig deep enough to overcome his horrifying nemesis!