FROM ANCIENT EPIC POEM TO THE SILVER SCREEN
Category: Beowulf & Grendel Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: March 9, 2006 | Publication: Vue Weekly | Author: TRENT WILKIE
Beowulf & Grendel is lost in translation
If anyone ever suggests that adapting a thousand-year-old 3182-line Old English epic poem into a movie is easy, laugh.
Despite the inherent difficulties, however, Beowulf & Grendel director Sturla Gunnarsson delivers a visually stunning film that manages to capture some of the poem’s vital essence.
Beowulf, played by Scotsman Gerard Butler, is a hardened warrior who is revered in his homeland but is conflicted by the idolatry he receives.
When he travels to nearby Zealand to rid his settled king Hrothgar (Stellan Skarsgard) of a “monster,” he finds that life is not black and white.
This monster Grendel, wonderfully portrayed by Ingvar E Sigurdsson, is not a monster at all but an anthropomorphic giant who seeks vengeance against Hrothgar for killing his father.
The film is jam-packed with referential detail leaving the story a bit confusing. Granted, adding scenes where the characters were able to develop as they do in the poem would probably add a few weeks to the running time, but the film seems hooked on brevity.
This is to the detriment of the characters. You’ve got Grendel, a grunting and snorting oddity, and Hrothgar as his drunken and dying nemesis. This leaves Beowulf as just another stereotypical hero.
This is also true of the pagan witch Selma (Sarah Polley), whose accentless portrayal seems to lack any real poignancy save for being the love interest of Beowulf.
The saviour of the film is the cinematography. From snow-bound ice fields to rolling and ancient seas, Iceland is to Beowulf & Grendel what New Zealand was to Lord of the Rings.
The scenery, acting as a character in its own right, gives the film legitimacy and the audience a real sense of the desolation.
Despite this, you still end up with the feeling of what the film could have been, not what it is. V
Opens Fri, Mar 10
Beowulf & Grendel
Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson
Written by Andrew Rai Berzins
Starring Gerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgard, Sarah Polley, Ingvar E Sigurdsson