Within a new trend in the Movies Industry, a lot of classic books are selected to be turned into films for the big screen. This is the case of the epic poem Beowulf, which dates from Anglo Saxon times and is considered as the earliest poem in the modern European language. In 2007, the American director Robert Zemeckis produced Beowulf. In my opinion he chose this poem as a source for a Hollywood movie because it carries valuable information about revelations and controversies of Old English social life and kingship.
Moreover, the story is very interesting and it is full of amazing descriptions. However, as it generally happens, the plot has been adapted in order to fit the Hollywood demands. In the film Hrothgar, and then Beowulf are portrayed as men who have lovers aside from their wives, while the poem gives us the idea that at those times kings were honourable, truthful and loyal men who were concerned with the safety of their kingdom. In the movie Grendel is Hrothgar’s son.
He is characterized as a human like and childish monster; not as a bad and furious beast as in the book, but as a creature who seems to have an ear pain every time he listens to loud noises like those coming from Herot. At some point the audience may feel sorrow for Grendel’s pain contrary to the impression we get from the book where his character is a sort of beast, a Devil’s descendant who does not deserve compassion at all. His mother is also illustrated in a different way, she looks like a beautiful, clever and ambitious woman, so clever that she manages to convince Beowulf to give her a son (the dragon) instead of ending her life.
There is no particular description of Grendel’s mother in the poem but we can picture her as a horrible and ferous monster ready to venge his son and kill anybody who challenges her Unlike the book, in the movie the Hero of the film stays in Denmark where, after Hrothgar’s death, he becomes king and marries Wealthow. We learned from the screen that although he is in love with her, he has an affair with a young girl. Beowulf’s death has also been changed. In the Hollywood production Edgheto’s son dies because he cuts off his arm so as to reach the dragon’s heart and murder him.
They both fall to the harbour where the beast turns human and is carried by the waves and Beowulf, after telling Wiglaf the truth about Grendel’s mother, dies. In the epic our Hero is burned and badly wounded while fighting the dragon and dies after the battle. The burial has also been altered: while the book describes a funeral pyre the film shows a ship burial. I personally disliked this film because as I have read the book before I have pictured in my mind a very different image of the whole story, especially about Beowulf and the monsters.
Besides I do not like the way Zemeckis changed the plot. On the screen our strong, powerful and truthful Hero described by the epic translator Burton Raffel becomes a weak man who falls into temptations as any ordinary human being. Nevertheless the movie is a captivating one. The director has selected excellent actors to perform the characters and the 3D effects used as well as the music played are details very well placed in order to generate a profitable Hollywood production.