Discuss Beowulf's virtues and how they were either addressed or ignored in the gory Beowulf film.

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sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The whole scene with Grendel's mother - from the temptation to bargain to the impregnating (ick!) - is a useless dramatic ploy.  Yes, I'm a purist to, but I can accept director's license... if it has any purpose.  What purpose is in this?  The weakness and shame Beowulf shows here contradicts everything else and leaves inconsistency.  Even my students who haven't read the poem are saying "I didn't get that part." 

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The unfortunate spot for all of us that know what's going on in these original stories is that we know what's going on in these original stories!  While I appreciate Hollywood's attempts to turn our favorites into fantastic cinema adventures, in my opinion it wouldn't kill them to at least attempt to stick with the story.  It's too bad that we can't be entertained like the masses who only need the epic story to be captivated.

Of course, I'm a purist.  It still bothers me that Kubrick chose not to have the Overlook Hotel explode like it was supposed to.  For as much as I enjoy watching Jack Nicholson freeze to death in the hedge maze, that's just not what happened.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Remember the tv show Xena, Warrior Princess?? (Ok, I'm embarrassed to admit I used to watch it.) It used to really bother me how they mangled and blended the mythology. In the same episode you'd have Jason of the Argonauts fame and Julius Caesar.

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Ha! Why not?  Does anyone, anyone, have a problem with this? "Awww, all those myths are the same.  Just throw 'em in the pot and hit 'blend'.  Nobody'll know the difference, and besides, we'll just claim "artistic license" if they complain...".  (Chomp on cigar here, shoo pesky writers from the room...). 

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Sounds to me like they're mixing Beowulf with King Arthur. So is his child with Grendel's mother named Mordred?

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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What??? OMG, I am so disappointed! 

Marries Weathlow?  Has A BABY with Grendel's mother???  (I guess even epic heroes aren't immune to the hypnotic power of Angelina Jolie...). 

I understand cinematic liberties, but really... this truly eliminates the Christian theme, does it not?

Thanks goodness I haven't seen it yet.  I need to be braced for such shocks.  It's like Elizabeth deciding that Mr. Collins was better for her than Darcy after all. Ay yay yay... 

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The film is gory...and full of sexual innuendo.

Beowulf, however, is portrayed as young, strong, and brave. His physique is evidence and his unwavering full-tilt attitude toward whatever enemy he was fighting are true to the actual text. One thing I didn't like in the film was how Beowulf sheds all his clothing to fight Grendel and how he uses a chain wrapped around Grendel's arm to rip it off. It doesn't seem proper since Beowulf is strong enough with just his bare hands in the poem to rip bone, sinews, and muscle apart. Snap, Crackle, Pop! (It may make me very gruesome and gory to say so, but this is some of my favorite imagery in the whole poem. It certainly keeps my students awake!).

He is portrayed as loyal, since he does look out for his family and warriors (Wiglaf in particular), and in the film, he marries Hrothgar's young and lovely widow. He stays married to her and pledges his love for her his entire life, even though he takes at least one mistress in the film.

His honor is a bit tainted in film since he seems to be prisoner of his guilt and shame as Hrothgar was for having intercourse and fathered a child with Grendel's mother. This does not occur in the poem, but it does hype the movie. It does nothing for Beowulf's reputation.

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