Beowulf & Grendel ***
I read the epic poem of "Beowulf" about three years ago, but I read it in the way that most high schoolers read, especially as the year dwindles to a close. I skimmed it, jotted down the important stuff, and then waited for the class conversations. I intend on reading it again in the near future, so I can really get the taste of the story, and not just knowing the flavor. From what I know, "Beowulf & Grendel" is only half of the story of the hero Beowulf. The second half involves him going off to fight a dragon, but this film doesn't touch about that. I guess we'll have to wait for the Hollywood version to come out on 2007. Anyhow, I recall the first half being my favorite part anyway.
"Beowulf & Grendel" begins with the little boy Grendel, and his father, running away from the army of the Danes, led by King Hrothgar. They kill the father, and see the little boy crouching over, by a rock. The little boy gives a dirty look to the King, but just as the King is about to kill the little boy, he retreats, and goes away. The little boy Grendel goes to the bottom of the cliff where his father was thrown off, finds the body, cuts off the head, and takes the head to a cave in the woods, where Grendel lives on his own for years and years. Decades later, he goes off to get revenge on the King that took his father away from him. Sure enough, he begins to attack the towns, killing the strongest men in the village. The King doesn't know what to do, and beings to drink in excess. Luckily for him, Beowulf comes into the picture, who left the town as a young boy. He declares that he will fight the monster that is attacking the town, and get rid of it. Thus beginning one of the best adventure stories in any literature. Beowulf begins to formulate ways to get rid of the monster, and also getting advice from Selma, the beautiful town witch who knows exactly when people are going to die, and how.
Even though I'm giving "Beowulf & Grendel" a three star rating, it is nowhere near perfection. Some of it is a tad corny, and some of the acting over the top, but it's always entertaining, and it's such a great story that everybody will be involved in it-even those who have never even heard or read the story. In the novel, Beowulf has to prove his strenght three times, and save the towns. I already mentioned a dragon, which isn't touched about in the film, and we all know about Grendel. The last is a twist which many won't see coming, but it certainly is creepy, effective, and one of the films best sequences. I enjoyed the films script, which is dark and murky as the novel, but also gives it some comedy. One of the most memorable scenes involved Beowulf talking to Grendel, only always confused by what Grendel is saying, since all of his words involve moaning and muttering and spitting. But the witch Selma understands every last word. I must implore you to go a-hunting for this, since it's only playing in certain places. So what if it's violent and gritty, it's also poetic and at it's core, isn't about violence and adventure. It's about father-son relationships, and those which are like them. Grendel isn't bad, he's just misunderstood. I'm looking forward to how Hollywood takes care of the story. "Beowulf and Grendel" is Islandic, and they handle things differently then us Americans. Also, the new one is animated, only I don't know partially or wholly. Oh well, that's another review for another day.