Beowulf screenwriter Andrew Berzins Answers Fan Questions

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: July 30, 2005 | Publication: http://www.kenesa.com/beowulf-grendel/ | Author: secondchancetart - Andrew Berzins
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1. Can you explain why you felt the violence was deemed necessary for the film?
- Lady Claire

This one puzzles me. I'm not sure how familiar Lady Claire is with the original poem. The section of the story dealing with Beowulf's battle with Grendel (our "monster") is methodically slaughtering a village of Danes,tearing their heads off, gobbling them. Beowulf arrives with his sole agenda being to kill Grendel. If anything,- and probably to the dismay of hardcore action fans- this movie (with, I think, two exceptions) is not particularly graphic in its handling of the violence rather far more atmospheric and suggestive. The term in the PR
"blood-soaked tale" is accurate, but what gore there is,is not at all gratuitous. As the saying goes, it comes with the territory.

2. Where did your inspiration come from that inspired you to write the Beowulf and Grendel screenplay with a humanitarian/spiritual twist?- Teresa

I would separate humanitarian from the spiritual here. The "humanitarian element" arose simply by making the choice of exploring Grendel as a creature of motivation, and then by arming Beowulf with a little more curiosity than that which the poem provides him. In the poem Beowulf is firmly established as a good man. So what does a good man
do when he finds his quest is not a pure as he anticipated? I thought I'd throw Beowulf a little moral meat to chew on, just to see how he'd stomach it. As to the "spiritual twist", this came directly out of the issue of the poem being written by a Christian without acknowledgement of Beowulf (a 6th century Geat warrior pretty likely being a pagen)and
then I just thought I'd have a Celtic priest
(a la St Brendan the Navigator) veer east instead of northwest in the North Sea and wind up on the Danish King's doorstep. Then it got REAL wide open on whose Gods were helping now.

3. Are you satisfied that the director and actors were able to capture your vision fo the story? Has it lived up to your expectations? - Sue

I started putting thoughts down on paper for this project in early 1999. Originally, I thought this could possibly be shot in Newfoundland, Canada. When I first sat down with Sturla in mid '99 he made clear his hope to shoot in Iceland. Neither Iceland nor Newfoundland look much like Denmark (the location of the Grendel part of the story) but both offered a wildness that suited the idea. But Iceland was certainly more of a spiritual home for the movie.
I finished a dense outline of the script in Spring 2001. I knew that, if we shot in Iceland, I'd have waterfalls to work with, a sea, beaches, some mountains, glaciers, lava fields...and a serious lack
of trees. But I didn't first visit there until summer 2001. As it turned out, there wasn't a whole lot that needed to change in the script once we faced the reality of locations. The beach at Dyrholeay where our boys came ashore was basically designed by the gods for that scene. I called for a glacier. They got me a glacier. I called for a tree, they got me... driftwood...

4- I'm curious as to whether or not your screenplay influenced the choices taht were made, or was the location and format decided on and ultimately influenced your script? - Sandie

I'll tell you that...creatively... there was a hell of a lot of brilliance going on, under very stressful circumstances. The budget was a challege, the weather was a challenge. No one died. A thing of beauty arose. What flaws remain were there in the script.

5. Do you believe that you have written your script in such a manner that American audiences will immerse themselves in Beowulf's story and understand that in this case extreme violence is necessary to the film?
-Michelle

Again, as with the answer to the first question, there's as much extreme beauty in this movie as
violence. And I wouldn't call the violence in this movie "extreme"
Depends, I guess on what you're comparing it to. I can't honestly predict how American audiences will respond to the film, as opposed to Canadians, Europeans, or anyone else. I think it's pretty acessible. It's emotional, it's beautiful, and probably funnier than it has any right to be.
Oh yeah, and there's this kinda romantic thang...

6. Couldn't resist asking a bit of a "fluff' question...how did you feel about Gerard Butler's portrayal of Beowulf? Did he have the proper grit, pathos and intelligence to pull this role off??
- Donna

Gerry walked the walk, and talked the talk. I believe you'll buy him as not just the one guy you don't really want to **** of in 520 AD Scandanavia, but also as a person who transcends his culture-
no small feat. A thinking, feeling hero.
Could use more of them..........

Andrew Berzins
Screenwriter
Beowulf & Grendel
July 30, 2005

Thanks to secondchancetart (Donna) and GerardButlerUK for the Q&A!