Book vs Movie: Beowulf

Beowulf (2007 film) - WikipediaAn authoritative translation of the finest heroic poem in Old ...

When I was in high school, either freshman or sophomore year, I had to read Beowulf. Don’t ask me why someone thought a bunch of 13-15 year olds could comprehend Old English on their own, but alas. Soon after reading it in school, the animated movie came out. So, let’s talk about them.

When I first read this, I really enjoyed the story. In fact, I was the only one in my class who liked it. No judgement to the others at all, I just remember being that one nerd who enjoyed it. Essentially, it’s just the telling of a hero named Beowulf and his encounters with various monsters and villains, the most famous probably being Grendel. He’s a Geat who helps the king of the Danes with their two monsters before going back home to be king of the Geats, and fifty years later he fights a dragon. Though he defeats the dragon, he is wounded fatally. And that’s really it. Simply a hero’s tale told in Old English.

Then the movie came out in 2007, and I was actually excited to see it. My family thought it was so weird, but we went to see it in theaters anyway. Also, real quick, I found out TODAY that Neil Gaiman helped write the screenplay, and I don’t know how to feel about it. I was severely disappointed. Maybe because of the shift of story or the anti-hero style of the character of Beowulf or the *ahem* dragon baby. I understand the need of story shift because it’s the movie industry. They need as much drama as they can get. But I really didn’t appreciate how they wrote Grendel’s mother, the dragon, or even how Beowulf became king of the Danes.

On one hand, why’d they change it so drastically? On the other hand, I’m pretty picky. Usually when I judge a movie that’s based on stories or characters that already exist, I separate how the movie is as a stand-alone and how it is compared to the basis it came from. Standing alone, it’s not bad. It was pretty incredible CGI for the time, and if I didn’t know Beowulf beforehand I would’ve enjoyed it.

BUT, I can’t get past the shift.

So, obviously, the original epic poem is superior. If you don’t want to read Old English, the movie isn’t bad.

‘Book’: 4/5 stars. Movie: 2.5/5 stars.


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