Beowulf

Beowulf

Posted by jack_miller | Published 9 months ago

With 1781 ratings

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I remember seeing this film in theaters, in REALd (3d). I was blown away. I could go on for pages and paragraphs more applauding this film, but I'll just say a few things.
Though it is only an adaptation of the epic poem... the truth is I believe the film does as good a job or better at telling a story. There may be a few differences.. some small and some quite large.. I believe all of them are commendable, and the finished product is without a doubt one of the boldest and strongest narratives I've seen. Don't just judge the film on its relation to the source material, or on the occasional silliness and 3d camera mugging. Listen to Beowulf's words, listen to Wealthow's songs and the woe that is Grendel's mother. Let it all dig into your mind and boil over until you watch it again. It only gets better with time.

- imani_hill

Not a film you watch for historical accuracy. Truly a cinematic marvel in terms of voice over acting, and most of all, computer generated animation. Extremely impressive. Originally released in theaters in 2007, considering we are in 2018, it holds amazingly well after 11 years. Written in similar fashion to the Anglo-Saxon anonymous poem of 750 A.D. It is definitely an epic tale. Grand actions, the setting is large and the hero outstanding. The songs are vocalized, clearly to entice the old English style of bard song and dance and the musical instruments such as the harp accompany some melodies to completely support the style of the fantasy world. One can see that much was borrowed from Beowulf to make the hit series game Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. In my opinion, a modern, albeit inaccurate retelling of the epic saga of the Swedes of the Geatlands and the Danes of Denmark with a remarkable cast, written in a modern style which approximates old English in conjunction with a deeply symbolic representation of the motif of the hero's tragic flaw, excessive pride. It is a tale both terrifying and mesmerizing, lingering and stewing within the soul, long after you've feasted upon its tantalizing flavors. 10 out of 10.

- audrina_phillips

So horribly unlike the original Anglo-Saxon text that I could not even get 10 minutes into it. The best elements of the original literature have been completely striped away in this monstrosity of a film adaptation.

- george_white

I didn't think I'd like it because it is DECIDEDLY not the original. It was good in its own right.

HOWEVER, it is 180 degrees from the original poem. Whereas the poem is about the bravery and nobility of Beowulf and the expressed value of these attributes in his society, the movie is the opposite. The people are SO flawed in the movie, and the monsters are victims of the horrible people. If you accept that "this is not your textbook's Beowulf," you can enjoy it.

- nolan_gutierrez

Beowulf was a fantastic animated feature loosely based upon the classic Old English poem. Beowulf takes place in a world of heroes, monsters and magic. It poses the question of how far will a hero go for fame and what are the consequences?

Beowulf arrives in the kingdom of Denmark to slay a monster known as Grendel who has been haunting the country. The problem is Grendel has a mother who offers Beowulf a deal that seems too good to be true thus creating the dilemma of what will happen to the hero if he accepts?

The movie is full of action and horror. Grendel for example brutally kills several warriors and looks like a giant deformed child. His mother comes and hangs a whole hall’s worth of people in revenge.

The animation is top notch and was originally in 3-D when it was released in the theater.

The movie is most interesting because it raises the issue of who is really responsible for the problems in the movie? Is it the monsters or the heroes? Could it be the humans lust for power and notoriety that is really at fault?

- camden_mitchell

Beowulf was one of the forefathers of the current 3D age... I remember how excited I was to see it in the theatre; and it has always stood up as an example for how to properly use the format since. But it has never gotten an American 3D bluray release. I've waited for years without hope.

I was so glad to finally find this copy. While the packaging is in italian, the classic english version if the film is still there, intact, finally back in 3D. Some ghosting issues on character's edge in a handful of close up shots (which ruin my 5 star rating) but overall worth it to have this classic 3D movie in my collection.

- colton_cooper

I started watching this movie because of the number of stars, 4, and it is a Prime offering. I should have read the one star reviews. I stopped after 7 minutes. Just bad.

- selene_taylor

Everything was CGI. I guess if you play video games all the time, it looks normal, but I consider all-CGI characters to be more like cartoons than real people. And they don't really move like a real person. The women tend to look the same; even the Angelina Jolie character looked like the queen and the other women. Not exactly, of course, but more similarities than differences. The story was OK, although the gap between Grendel and the disillusioned Beowulf was so short, there was no story there, it was just like a happening. If you're OK with animated (OK, computer-generated, but still animated) characters and don't find them as distracting as I did, then it's an OK film.

- juelz_ramos

With the cinematic success of `The Lord of the Rings' I suppose it would not be long before `Beowulf' also received the Hollywood motion-picture treatment, especially since Tolkien had mined the Anglo-Saxon poem `Beowulf' as one of his major sources. I therefore approached the screening with some trepidation.

I remember the exact moment in the cinema when my scepticism about the film I was about to watch was dispelled. It occurred six minutes into the film, when the camera pulls back from Hrothgar's hall through the snow-covered fields that surround it. The pull-back then continues further out again across the river; then even further out through a forest; the pull-back continues onwards and outwards, higher and higher until we reach Grendel's cave.

That extended well-framed, perfectly paced, pull-back convinced me that considerable thought had been given to interpreting the `Beowulf' poem, and from then on I was completely engrossed by the world offered to me on screen, ably assisted by Alan Silvestri's fine score. It soon became clear that this was not just another Hollywood hatchet-job. It IS still a hatchet-job of sorts, but one with meaning and good intentions.

Problems arise from the very start when we are told that the setting is `Denmark AD507', which is `a little' too early for my liking. Changes and additions have been made to the dialogue, and some fundamental changes have been made to the storyline. The screenwriters - Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary - argue that this is for the better in that it makes the narrative more coherent. And I am tempted to agree with them.

They have fleshed out the roles of Wealthow and Unferth, but the most radical change is to imply that Hrothgar slept with Grendel's mother, thus spawning the beast whose eardrums are so sensitive. In the poem, of course, Beowulf entered her lair via a lake, but here her home is the same as Grendel's, albeit a lake is found within the cave.

The second radical change is Hrothgar committing suicide after naming Beowulf as his heir, which allows the story to remain within the one landscape, so that the dragon (who is explicitly the son of Beowulf and Grendel's mother, a third major modification) haunts the same land as Grendel rather than ravaging the country of Beowulf's homeland, as the original poem has it. As already mentioned, these changes make for a more cohesive narrative, turning the poem's three acts into one linked tale that is beautifully, brilliantly, and imaginatively produced (though purists will no doubt be horrified).

But at heart this cinematic interpretation of `Beowulf' remains true to its original telling. Some of the violence is excessively gruesome, but is no doubt included to appeal to a certain kind of teenage mentality. A linked but more healthy kind of teenage mentality is appealed to by the garb (or rather, lack of garb) and portrayal of Grendel's mother by Angelina Jolie. But it's a shame that the final dragon flight and fight becomes wholly contrived and mere entertainment.

In terms of production design, full marks for imaginative responses, such as the roof of Grendel's cave being formed of the inside of a giant's ribcage. But to portray Jutland as a land of mountains will disappoint a lot of tourists looking for an original `Beowulf' experience. And to have Hrothgar's hall and Beowulf's later city constructed in stone with towers and other architectural ornamentation is to place sixth-century Danish civilisation five hundred years ahead of its time.

The motion-capture method of filming for which director Robert Zemeckis has become renowned works. Andrew Osmond, writing in `Sight & Sound' wrote how "'Beowulf' often feels like live-action with special effects, rather than computer animation." At least it makes a portly Ray Winstone look more like a youthful Sean Bean. It's a shame that the actors all maintain their own distinctive accents, but we are compensated by the amusement experienced watching the lengths the film goes to ensure Beowulf's private parts remain hidden.

This is a review of the two-disc director's cut edition. The second disc has a twenty-five minute `Making of', in which Zemeckis openly states that his film focuses on the more physical aspects of the tale - the food, the drink, the fighting, and the sex. We also learn how the motion-capture technique - not dependent on light, weather, etc - means that he can shoot in forty minutes what would have normally taken a whole day.

Other extras include a series of short films "mapping the journey" from poem to film, and the screenwriters explain why they made the changes they did for the sake of dramatic unity. There is much too on the film's artwork and the design of the creatures. Finally, there are seven additional scenes (in basic form), lasting twelve minutes.

- jesse_bennet

Beowulf is a magical piece of literature. And it's a good idea to keep some of the Anglo-Saxon original text. The director tries all he can to make the setting and costumes and psyche of these people realistic for the fifth and sixth centuries after Christ when Denmark was still believing in the Nordic Gods, Odin first of all, and before the arrival of Christianity at the beginning, after its arrival at the end. Interesting too to change the tale slightly to make the two half into one logic, the second half being the sequence of the first. Interesting too to use the magic of these old days and hence have some supernatural beings and events. It is true Grendel, his mother and the dragon were supernatural alright. But instead of making explicit the references to the giants and pre-human species surviving in total exclusion, instead of making explicit the reference to the runes brought to human beings by Odin himself, the director chooses a sexual line, from beginning to end. Then the monster is the son of the local Danish king and the mother who does not have a name but is a gorgeous woman disguising some kind of witch, a sorceress who has little difficulty mesmerizing the local king with promises of power into providing her with a son who will eventually be the scourge of the country and will have to be killed. Hence Grendel is the "son" of the local king when Beowulf arrives in Denmark and the dragon will be the "son" of Beowulf himself. He will kill Grendel, then tame the mother by giving her a son, and finally kill that very son, the dragon. This addition kills something in the tale. Beowulf is the obvious Christianization of traditional Nordic tales and sagas in Anglo-Saxon territory in the seventh to ninth centuries. This is present in the film, but the sexual dimension of these monsters goes against this Christianization since it states that every generation will have to live under the menace of a monster produced by the fornication of the previous king with the supernatural woman, as if such pagan facts could survive in front of the Christian faith. This rewriting of the tale is thus for a modern audience, what's more for a young audience. This is quite clear in the electronic and computer game conception of the fights. And this young audience does not care for all these religious things, including Christianity, and they can very easily imagine Christ having dinner with a dragon and being served by some unicorn. Dropping that dimension of believing and even faith that the saga originally had transforms the story into some kind of post-modern fantasy for a world that does not believe in anything and where believing has been transformed into some kind of personal private matter whereas it was a public communion with the whole society through its common rites and fears and hopes. Then the end of the film is the promise of a third monster, whereas the end of the saga was a final stop to the existence of all monsters.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID

- clare_stewart

Absolutely brilliant in 3d.This is a single disc version but has plenty of extras on it in 2d.A word of warning I haven't checked yet but packaging says that the disc only compatible with 3d blu ray players,but since you buying this for the 3d version shouldn't be a problem.

- edward_morgan

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