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The New Beowulf

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News
Article Date: October 9, 2004 | Publication: Ingibjörg Rósa Björnsdóttir and María Erla Pálsdóttir | Author: réttablaðið

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On the southern coast an international group of moviemakers and world famous actors are working on themost expensive movie ever made here. The film is caledBeowulf and Grendel and is inspired by ancient norse stories, with ealborate scenography, costumes, and fighting scenes. Ingibjörg Rósa Björnsdóttir and María Erla Pálsdóttir had a look behind the curtain and spoke with the main people there.

On Reynisfjall by Vík í Mýrdal opening scenes of Beowulf in which Grendel sees his father being killing are being filmed. Hringur Ingvarsson plays Grendel and his dad, Ingvar E.Sigurðsson, directs his son while the cameras are rolling: “Look at the bad guys! Be scared, climb down!” Hringur does heroically in spite of his young age and deftly hides from Steallan Skarsgaard who in the role of King Hrothgar is powerfully walking towards the edge of the rock. We are terribly cold, but that doesn´t matter. We are watching the filming of Beowulf. One gets goosebumps just by watching the master Stellan in this short scene which is done a couple of times. Goosebumps every time.

Rotting Heads of Horses
There are unusually many people in the small village Vík considering the time of year, and more languages than icelandic can be heard there. The explanation for that is the fact that the film Beowulf and Grendel is being filmed in the area these days and the village is the moviepeople’s center. But not only is a large number of people working on filming – in a manner of speaking large people are also around. Sturla Gunnarsson is directing his biggest project so far and he has Stellan Skarsgaard, Gerard Butler, Sarah Polley, and Ingvar E. Sigurðsson on his team as well as other talented foreign and Icelandic actors.
The atmosphere on the film’s location is fantastic. Earlier in the day we saw King Hrothgar’s hall and his people’s home in a strange and mysterious landscape in the heath east of Vík. Part of the scenography consists of rotting heads of horses. They didn’t scare us off, but they were rather scary as they stood there on poles all around the hall, ready to frighten off unwanted guests.
The hall is special artist carpentry, to a large extent made from driftwood and it has already survived Icelandic storms, so clearly this movie is not scamped.

Relaxed Mood in Camp
When the day begins to draw to an end, the teeth chatters and we have made an appointment with Stellan Skarsgaard we drive off the mountain, have ourselves some cocoa and get some warmth in the body before we rush east to Höfðabrekka to meet the King. Stellan seems to enjoy good conversation and says Icelanders are fun to talk with. He says he thinks it’s wonderful to be able to talk about culture, litterature, and art with just about any Icelander there is.
At last the crew has come to dinner and Sturla tells us that Gerry, the Scottish heartthrob playing Beowulf, is on the way from Reykjavík, should be here around ten o’clock and is ready for an interview with us then.
While we are waiting we are sitting at the table with Stellan and Tony Curran (who Icelandic television viewers will no doubt recognize from Ultimate Force), Ronan Vibert and Martin Delaney who have a reputation for being the jokesters in the place. At table after table people say the same thing: that it is well worth it to wait for Gerry. Everybody speaks well of him and Stellan tells us a little, no big, secret about the Scotsman’s anatomy. Always nice to have something to take home in case the interview falls through.
At ten o’clock there is no sign of him, but we have entered into a lively discussion about publishing, movies, writers, and movieproduction. There is enough to choose from. Half an hour later a bearded toughguy in a leather jacket storms in and talks and gesticulates a lot. There is no doubt who this is, and the thick Scottish accent caresses the ears. When Ingvar E. Sigurðsson comes along a while later the formal interview ends – it’s midnight, and we stil have left to take a few pictures. Ingvar takes it upon himself to assist with photographing, which is, well, not so helpful but creates some fun moments.
In Höfðabrekka Mustang Sally echoes across the deserted parking lot. Rory McCann, a Scot strong as a bull, has taken it upon himself to play the piano and brave vikings sing along in the quiet night. Tomorrow another long day of filming is ahead.


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