Socialist Worker

9th Company | Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Issue No. 2039

9th Company

9th Company

9th Company
Directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk
Film out now

Set during the Soviet Union’s ill-fated Afghanistan war in the 1980s, Fyodor Bondarchuk’s film 9th Company is Russia’s equivalent to the Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now films.

The Vietnam War was a huge defeat for the US empire.

The Soviet Union faced a similar loss in Afghanistan. It was a wound that helped to kill the Stalinist state.

The film follows a group of Siberian men who have volunteered to fight in Afghanistan as they undergo the army’s strict training regime.

The film convincingly depicts the horror of war, and the camaraderie engendered among those fighting it.

It was a huge success in Russia.

Katherine Branney

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Translated by Simon Armitage

This new translation of the 600 year old poem is by the acclaimed poet Simon Armitage. He skilfully recreates the classic story for a new, modern audience.

In the poem the Christmas celebrations of King Arthur and his court are interrupted by a huge green knight. He challenges anyone present to deliver an axe blow to him, and receive one in return in a year’s time.

Sir Gawain steps forward to meet this challenge. The whole court is shocked when the green knight’s headless body then reclaims the still animated head.

Gawain must then attempt to find this magical knight and meet what seems like certain doom.

Armitage has stayed true to both the original northern England location of the poem and its rhythms. This is an exciting read, although the constant alliteration can be exhausting.

Matthew Cookson

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Article information

Sat 24 Feb 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2039
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