OK. So I went with our school--all 320 seniors and seven chaperones--to see the new Beowulf movie. Wow! What a disappointment! Hollywood has struck again and dramatized the heck out of it making Grendel the son of Hrothgar and Grendel's mother--the naked, dripping with gold (which thank goodness clings in all the right places or I would have been one embarrassed teacher) Angelina Jolie with her long braid whipping around like a tail. The dragon which is eventually Beowulf's demise is actually his son by Grendel's mother. In the end, Wiglaf is left decideing whether or not he's going to take the bait of her seductive smile or back away with his golden drinking gourd and lever her ther heck alone.
Grendel himself is nothing like the descriptions of the creature in the story...but rather a deformed scaly humanoid.
I suppose it will be considered entertaining to those who have never read the text, but Angelina Jolie does for Beowulf what Demi Moore did for The Scarlet Letter. Ugh.
I like both actresses, but let's not sex up the classics where sex doesn't exist. It cheapens the literature just to sell more tickets.
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My favorite version of Beowulf, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the Beowulf, is the movie The 13th Warrior. According to the author, Michael Crichton, he took the story from the actual journal of an 8th century Arab who had been kidnapped by Vikings and taken on their quest to rid a Scandinavian nation of the "evil" that was plaguing it. It is intriguing to think that Beowulf, although it predates the Arab's journal, might actually be based in truth, that the monster might be a primitive tribe who dress in bear skins and eat the dead. And the Vikings are just so darn big! They make Antonio Banderas look like a little boy. The big blond Viking is a perfect Beowulf!
Funny story...one of the teenage boys who I taught last year in Brit Lit came to see me after having gone to see the new Beowulf movie. He was so indignant! He announced, probably loud enough for everyone in our tiny school to hear, "They messed up the entire story! Beowulf didn't kill Grendel's mom, he had sex with her...and their kid killed Beowulf!" Absolute outrage! I just smiled and told him how proud I was that he knew the story well enough to know the movie was trash! :)
Has anyone out there seen the Gerard Butler version, Beowulf and Grendel? I personally really liked it, even though it doesn't follow the story as closely as it could have. It does add some history explaining why Grendel hates Hrothgar so much.
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