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Beowulf needs a U.S. distributor

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News
Article Date: February 1, 2006 | Publication: TigerWeekly | Author: Keeley Kristen

Posted by: admin

Where to start with such an epic adventure?

I almost hesitate to even attempt a recap of the tale, but I’ll go for it.

If you’ve ever taken an English class in your collegiate life, then you’ve studied the epic tale of “Beowulf.” Hopefully you paid attention; if you didn’t, I can promise you that it was your loss.

Believed to have been written in the 7th or 8th century by some, the 10th century by others, “Beowulf” is the oldest surviving literary masterpiece to be written in vernacular English (Old), as opposed to Latin.

Written anonymously, “Beowulf” tells of a mythic hero of Geatan descent who is called upon by his friend and King of the Danes, Hrothgar. The Danes have, of late, endured much terrorizing and rebellion from the monstrous creature Grendel, and the king fears for the safety of his people and of his beloved hall, Heorot.

It is said that Grendel’s descent traces all the way back to Cain, who killed his brother Abel, and that he and his mother are of a mythical giant race, which makes them impervious to normal swords … swords of the Danes.

Because of Grendel’s increasing rage and violence in his disregard for Danish law and custom, King Hrothgar calls on the only person believed to be capable of saving his Danish kingdom, the legendary Geatan hero and warrior prince, Beowulf.

Upon hearing Hrothgar’s plea, Beowulf accepts the challenge and sets out to stop the murderous troll. In doing so, he learns that Grendel’s nightly terror attacks on Heorot are due to vengeance at being wronged by Hrothgar. As Beowulf becomes conflicted in his duty while on this quest, he comes to a realization about his life and sees within himself similarities of Grendel. And therein lies the heart of this legendary tale’s conflict.

Finally, this epic is being adapted to fit the big screen.

Director Sturla Gunnarsson of Iceland, who dabbles mostly in television directing, decided to take aim at cinematic directing and from what I’ve read, it looks as though he has brought to life our favorite Norse masterpiece.

There’s only one problem: We have yet to pick up the film for distribution.

Sadly, the U.S. has opted to film an animated version, which is hogwash because animating a classic like “Beowulf” takes away from the story’s emotion and intensity, and is about as plausible as animating “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” “The Illiad and the Odyssey” or, better yet, the entire trilogy of “Lord of the Rings.”

The American film has signed on big names to lend their voices, such as Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone (Bors from “King Arthur”), John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins. The release date is set for 2007.

As for Gunnarsson’s version, let’s just say he brings together an international cast of high-caliber talent.

Chosen to play the warrior Beowulf is Scottish superstar Gerard Butler. His first film was “Mrs. Brown,” but his breakthrough role was in a made-for-TV movie, “Attila the Hun,” where he starred as Attila, King of the Huns. His portrayal in this film achieved him international superstardom.

Recently, he co-starred opposite Angelina Jolie in “Tombraider: Cradle of Life,” and he also starred in the lead role in the film adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Anyone familiar with his acting style will know there is no better choice for the mystical portrayal of Beowulf.

More excitingly, perhaps, is the actor chosen to play King Hrothgar. Stellan Skarsgard, of Sweden, is one of the most experienced and humble actors of international talent. He played esteemed math professor Gerald Lambeau in “Good Will Hunting” and in the latest version of King Arthur by Antione Fuqua, he, as Cerdic, epitomized everything we would believe a Saxon king/warrior to be.

Tony Curran also stars in Gunnarsson’s film, and you might say he has a leg up on everyone since he also appeared in the 1999 U.S. adaptation of “Beowulf,” “The 13th Warrior.”

Sarah Polley (“Dawn of the Dead”) stars as Selma, and Ingvar Sigurdsson of Iceland, will portray Grendel. Will his depiction be as powerful and comparable to Andy Serkis?

We may or may not ever know. Gunnarsson’s film has already been released in the UK, Iceland, Canada and other parts of the world, but to date, it has not yet been picked up by a U.S. distributor.

What can you do to help urge promotion? On the promotional fan Web site for the film,, there is a letter-writing campaign underway urging all Americans to write to Fox Searchlight Pictures.

If you’re a film fanatic, as well as a fan of classic literature, I encourage you to get involved and do what you can so this country will distribute this film.

GB.Net Note: You can get informtion on the campaign here:


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