BEOWULF Add To My Top 10
A Dark Tale of Sin and Temptation
Release Date: November 16, 2007
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 115 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures/Viacom
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary
Address Comments To:Sumner Redstone, Chairman/CEO
Brad Grey, Chairman/CEO
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Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
In this version, old King Hrothgar of Denmark and his men are drunken louts who, unlike the original story, believe in the Norse deity Odin, not God. Some distance away in his mountain lair, a demonic monster named Grendel is tormented by the sounds of merrymaking coming from the great hall built by the King.
Grendel sneaks into the hall and kills countless men, but runs away when Hrothgar confronts him. Hrothgar and his men put out the call for a hero to slay this beast.
Into the tale comes boastful Beowulf, a prince of the Geats in Sweden. He promises the Danes that not only will he kill Grendel, he will also kill him with his bare hands in a fair fight.
The fateful night comes, and Beowulf indeed mortally wounds Grendel by tearing off his arm. Grendel slinks away to his lair to die, but Beowulf learns that Grendel’s mother is a seductive demon, and she is really angry. Beowulf volunteers again to kill the beast, but a little more reluctantly this time. Grendel’s mother, a demonic temptress who appears for all practical purposes naked, has a couple tricks up her sleeve. Also, King Hrothgar has an evil secret that will pose unique challenges for Beowulf.
Beowulf fails these challenges in the second act. This leads to the third act, a battle with a dragon, that takes place 20 years or so after Act One and Two.
The third act of BEOWULF is quite striking and entertaining, but the first two acts are particularly dark. In fact, the two most important main characters, King Hrothgar and Beowulf himself, are not very likeable men who have strong moral flaws. This dilutes the jeopardy they face in the movie’s first two acts, because it lessens the heroic nature of the original tale. Discerning viewers with a strong sense of morality will find it hard to identify with this Hrothgar and this Beowulf.
MOVIEGUIDE® has lots of other reservations about this movie. BEOWULF deletes the references to God in the original poem by an anonymous Christian monk and replaces them with references to Norse pagan mythology, but, unlike the original, it adds some explicit references to Jesus Christ and Christianity. In fact, the most positive character in the movie, Queen Wealthow, has become a Christian by the movie’s third act, which takes place 20 years or more after Beowulf’s encounter with Grendel and Grendel’s demonic mother. The Queen, who wears a crucifix, is shown having a Christian priest for a spiritual advisor. Thus, the movie shows that the Danish society is gradually going through the change of becoming a Christian culture.
Despite this, the story’s focus is on the struggles that King Hrothgar and Beowulf have with Grendel’s mother and with their own inner demons. This takes away from the Godly heroics of the original poem, which is quite powerful, especially when read in a good modern translation more accessible to today’s dumbed-down culture.
The BEOWULF movie is not a movie for children or families. It is a dark story about sin, violence, vengeance, and loss. And, it contains strong references to the temptations of sexual lust, including nudity. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for adults and does not recommend this movie to teenagers, much less children. People of faith and values will find the original poem more inviting. It is a true classic of literature.
BEOWULF is a dark tale of sin, violence, vengeance, and loss. The motion capture animation is striking, especially during the fight with the dragon, but King Hrothgar, Hrothgar’s men and Beowulf are not likeable characters. This dilutes the heroic quality of the original story, which is quite powerful. BEOWULF also contains strong references to the temptations of sexual lust, including nudity. Therefore, despite some Christian references, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for adults and does not recommend this movie to teenagers, much less children.