Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beowulf vs. Beowulf

This is my first post so I hope I'm doing this right. I have finally found some time to do this thing so I thought I'd start with something I know, movies. In this case the film based on the epic poem "Beowulf." The original epic poem dates back to between the 8th and the 11th century. The poem follows the main character Beowulf as he rescues Heorot from the beast Grendel. From there our hero battles and kills Grendel's mother. He soon goes home to become king and battles a dragon which leads to the death of the dragon and Beowulf himself. Any English major knows the story. If you watch the 2007 film you'll notice many differences, which is classic Hollywood style. To me there are seven big differences between the poem and the film. Starting at the beginning and going to the end: In the poem Grendel kills because he's a miserable beast and can't stand the happiness going on in Heorot, but in the film Grendel seems to have an ear problem as his ear throbbed when he heard loud noises. We learn in the film that Hrothgar is Grendel's father while in the poem Grendel is described as being a descendant of Cain. We get an epic battle between Beowulf and Grendel's mother that ends with his mother beheaded, but in the film we get the beginning of a love scene. That love scene ends up with a son, and that son is the dragon that attacks Hrothgar's, now Beowulf's, kingdom. It's quite different in the poem as the dragon is a real dragon and attacks Beowulf's home land that he's the king of. Beowulf's death is quite different as well. In the poem he dies from a dragon bite, but in the film he dies because he cut off his own arm to kill the dragon. In general observations, Grendel speaks and Hrothgar has no children. This is a classic case of Hollywood ruining a great piece of literature.


owowcow said...
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owowcow said...

When you look at books and their movie adaptions, you need to look at them as two separate works. more often than not, i prefer any book over its movie counterpart, but i found both the poem and the movie Beowulf to be enjoyable.

first point about why Grendel kills: i supposse they made Grendel like that to make him a bit more of a sympathetic character. Grendel seems more like a person in a childlike state who can't control his emotions. he looks like an extremely deformed human. in the poem, you'd think he was some beast.

at the end of the movie, it feels like nothing is solved when Beowulf is sent off on his funeral ship and then Angelina (sorry "the beast") looks at Wiglaf, i just started thinking "oh here we go again" and basically it's like a vicious cycle. i guess its to say that there is always evil in the world or something to that effect.

although i enjoyed the movie, Hollywood really ruined the Beowulf name sort of. Really, Beowulf was this Do-All hero. In the movie, Beowulf was a hero, but i guess they made him seem more human, more subject to human temptations and limitations (lying). i guess it makes for a more interesting movie, since the three epic poems weren't connected that much (except with Grendel and his mother) but its an english teacher's worst nightmare!

jaccoma said...

This was a an epic poem I had read during my senior year of high school and I instantly fell in love with it. I would also recommend reading "Grendel" which I forget the author right now, but it shows the beowulf tale from Grendels point of view.