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Netflix Find: Beowulf & Grendel

Posted on 2007.01.18 at 18:22
Current Music: jon astley on radio hidebound
Not the horrible, horrible, horrible version with Christopher Lambert called simply Beowulf - my goodness, what an awful pile of poopy that thing is.

No, the Sturla Gunnarsson directed film with a lovely performance from Gerard Butler as Beowulf and pretty Sarah Polley somewhat miscast, but still enjoyable.  Also features Stellan Skarsgaard.

The film was shot entirely on location in Iceland and it's an impressive, sometimes breathtaking, series of landscapes including shots of glaciers.  While the setting of the poem is in Denmark, shooting in Iceland gives the film a sense of history, as if this might have been what Denmark looked like in 500 AD.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO CG work in this film, which is both refreshing and also adds to the feeling of oldness.

But the kicker is that this film doesn't try to be a retelling of the poem, but tries to show what might have been the reality (mostly) which the poem hyperbolized.  Grendel is not really a monster, but, with reason, performs a few monstrous acts,  is doomed for it and ends up being a most sympathetic character. On one level, this could be the telling of the ethnic cleansing of homo neanderthalensis by homo sapiens (not that that actually happened, or did it . . . ?)

There are a few radical liberties taken with the story, but they are consistent within the film as a whole.  I really enjoyed this version of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem.  I wouldn't think knowing the poem is required to enjoy the film, but it does allow watching it in a most interesting way.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

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