Film & DVD Review: Beowulf

  • Warner Bros
  • UK release date 16th November 2007
  • Genre: Animation/Adventure/Drama/Fantasy
  • Running time — 115 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13Reviewed by Jacqueline Sharp

    Beowulf the movie derives from Robert Zemeckis fascination with Beowulf the poem, the earliest surviving epic in the English language, going back to the 6th Century AD, in all it is 3,000 lines long.

    Most of Beowulf the movie and the original poem derive from Danish influences, where Anglo Saxons of the era didn’t see themselves as British, but as Vikings. Their heroes were from Scandinavia. This was an era where many would talk of the fight between good and evil, great monsters, dragons and heroes. Gory, frightening tales which explored concepts of victory and glory.

    The movie had been extensively researched for ten years prior to production.

    Zemeckis says:- “Avary has been trying to unify his theories for a decade” and goes on, “the poem always seemed disjointed to me and in particular how it never seemed to be the most reliable of narrators”. He continues, “There were missing parts of the poem where Grendel’s arm would be torn off by Beowulf and more to the point, “who is Grendel’s father?”. He goes on “when Beowulf emerges from the cave with Grendel’s head, it made sense that Beowulf should fall prey to the siren, so did Hrothgar before him”.

    Zemeckis knew how his movie should be written. He had the story adapted to . “make sense” . Zemeckis viewed the second part of Beowulf the poem as raising many questions such as when Beowulf became king and how he suddenly had a dragon attacking him and his kingdom, without any explanation.

    Unlike the poem, Zemeckis has made Grendel’s mother bear a sibling, to Beowulf, (making him the father of a dragon monster). It emerges that she is a beautiful temptress, an evil seductress. Trapping them with her beauty she gets revenge by giving birth to monsters and dragons. She was also the mother of King Hrothgar’s monster child, Grendel.

    Zemeckis film, Beowulf should be praised for being true to the ethics of the poem!

    Zemeckis twists to the plot, with his idealism, ethics and theories, how he wanted Beowulf to be seen, just add to the fantasy of it all.

    The human hero Beowulf (Ray Winstone) is a larger than life character, at six feet six tall. The most captivating animated character in the film, he is unique, powerful and masterful.

    I also liked other characters, particularly Queen Wealthow, (Robin Wright Penn). She was smart, loyal and worthy of being a Princess. Grendel’s mother was also great in her role (Angelina Jolie). She gave an interesting twist to the storyline. It’s not often acceptable that such beauty could bear such evil, going hand in hand. Only Angelina could get away with that one! An extremely beautiful actress, with a lovely voice, playing an unusual character.

    Credits:

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Screenwriters: Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary
  • Producers: Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke
  • Executive producers: Martin Shafer, Roger Avary, Neil Gaiman
  • Director of photography: Robert Presley
  • Production designer: Doug Chiang
  • Music: Alan Silvestri
  • Costume designer: Gabriella Pescucci
  • Editor: Jeremiah O’DriscollCast:
  • Beowulf: Ray Winstone
  • King Hrothgar: Anthony Hopkins
  • Queen Wealthow: Robin Wright Penn
  • Wiglaf: Brendan Gleeson
  • Grendel: Crispin Glover
  • Grendel’s mother: Angelina Jolie
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