What are the differences between Beowulf  the movie and the poem?  

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Unfortunately, you would be better off asking what similarities exist between the epic, Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf and movies that have been made supposedly telling the same story.  Why?  Because the answer would be much shorter. 

If you're referring to the latest theatrical version released (that I know of, anyway), the animated version, a hero named Beowulf does kill Grendel.  That's pretty much where the similarities end.

As far as the differences, here are some of the main ones:

  • Beowulf is not Grendel's father.  In the poem, Grendel is born of the cursed descendants of Cain and in slime.
  • Grendel's mother does not look like Angelina Jolie.
  • Grendel's mother is not a shape shifter. 
  • Beowulf and Grendel's mother never have sex.  Grendel's mother is a monster the same as Grendel is. 

Unfortunately, movie makers have never made a movie even remotely resembling the epic poem.  The story in the poem has been liberally borrowed from numerous times.  The Thirteenth Warrior, for instance, focuses on a warrior journeying to a troubled spot to aid the locals.  But nothing thus far produced seems to even be an attempt to actually relate the story of Beowulf and Grendel. 

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