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The film Beowulf (2007) was directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis. Such Hollywood celebrities as Anthony Hopkins (King Hrothgar), Angelina Jolie (Grendel’s mother) and Ray Winstone (Beowulf) starred in the movie.
Beowulf (2007) is based on the Old English epic of the same title. Notably, the movie is “the full-length motion picture” where actor’s movements rather than their appearance were captured (Jones 18). I watched it on DVD and I was impressed by the technique used. I was also interested in the story itself, of course.
Beowulf is a warrior who travels the world and fights against the evil. He comes to help King Hrothgar to defeat a monster, Grendel, which devastates his kingdom. The warrior manages to kill the monster, but Grendel’s mother comes and kills almost all Beowulf’s men. Hrothgar tells Beowulf that Grendel’s mother, the Water Demon, lives in a cave and Beowulf sets to kill her only to be seduced by the monster’s mother who takes the form of a beautiful woman.
Beowulf and Grendel’s mother make a deal and the warrior becomes the next king while the Water Demon gives birth to Beowulf’s son. Many years later, when Beowulf is old, the deal between him and Grendel’s mother is broken and Water Demon’s son, a dragon, attacks the kingdom. Beowulf manages to kill the dragon but is wounded and dies soon after.
As has been mentioned above, the movie is based on the epic. However, it is an interpretation rather than a screening as, though major events are quite close to the text, the characters are very different from the original. First, Beowulf is not a very good example of a conventional warrior of the Middle Ages as he is less masculine and he is half naked throughout most of the film. Grendel is also depicted as a victim rather than hideous monster that is to be destroyed.
Grendel is that bad because people do not like him. People cause great pain to his head, which is the reason why Grendel attacks. In the text, Grendel is the evil monster who needs blood and murders. In the original, there is nothing about Grendel’s father and the dragon’s origins. In the movie these are children of Hrothgar and Beowulf respectively.
As far as the setting is concerned, it is really specific. On one hand, the landscape is depicted true to life. However, the creators of the film were not that precise when it came to costumes, appearance and customs. Thus, the king is wearing something like a Roman toga instead of clothes worn by Vikings (Jones 20).
The movie reveals certain clichés depicting the court in the Middle Ages as a “site of uncivilized savagery” with “bad table manners and boorishness” (Jones 20). Clothes of Beowulf and his warriors do not correspond to the epoch either.
However, irrespective of these differences, I would recommend young people to watch the film. In the first place, this can make them read the text itself. More importantly, the movie represents a contemporary vision of people’s past. It reflects values that reign in the contemporary society.
Of course, the movie has certain artistic value. It is novel in terms of the production as it is a motion picture. It is also properly made. The performance is very good and the story develops at a proper pace. Therefore, the viewer will enjoy the great movie and will be able to think of history and development of the human society.
Jones, Chris. “From Heorot to Hollywood: Beowulf in Its Third Millennium.” Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination. Ed. David Clark and Nicholas Perkins. Rochester, NY: Boydell & Brewer, 2010. 13-31. Print.