Guest Author - Taisha Turner
Beowulf DVD(2008) is based on an Old English epic poem. The poem is hundreds of years old. It is based on Beowulf’s three greatest battles. Grendel, a terrifying monster, is his first opponent. The second is Grendel’s mother who seeks revenge. In Beowulf’s later years, he battles a dragon.
The first third of the Beowulf DVD(2008) is on track with the poem. Viewers meet a horrifying Grendel. He is truly a monster. Hrothgar’s(Anthony Hopkins) subjects are afraid to stay in the new Mead Hall overnight. Occupants never see the morning sun because Grendal slaughters the guests. Beowulf(Ray Winstone) and his men arrive from Geatland. The epic hero vows to destroy the night killer with his bare hands: no weapons! He does.
The last two-thirds veer from the epic poem. It is due to the casting of Grendel’s mother(Angelina Jolie), the screenwriter’s adaptation or both. It seems our hero, Beowulf, does not kill her as in the poem. Just the opposite, he mates with Grendel’s mother. This sets Beowulf up to have many problems later in life. The change foreshadows the ending’s twist.
The basic premise of the Beowulf poem is there, but it is a film for only the most sophisticated young people. The addition of Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother changes Beowulf from a battle film to a sexual one. The serving maids’ endowments and conversation increase the sexual tension, too.
Parents and teachers will have concerns with the violence. Being fair, Beowulf is an Old English epic poem of violence. Beowulf is a mighty warrior. The epic tale is about his feats. Yet, many people believe reading is different from viewing graphic detail. It is true in this case, I never imagined Grendel being as destructive as he is in the DVD. In all fairness, the animation team does a great job with the fight scenes. They are fantastic, just too strong for young people under fourteen-years-old. Please do not allow the very young to watch the DVD because the scenes with Grendel will give them nightmares.
Beowulf DVD(2008) is for an adult audience. Teachers do not use the DVD as a study aid. Grendel’s violence and the sexual themes will cause problems with students’ parents. Therefore, the Children’s Books Editor is rating the DVD on two levels.
9 out of 10 stars (adults)
3.5 out of 10 stars (children)
Editor Note: I reviewed the Beowulf/Director's Cut(2008) with strong violent scenes.
Beowulf, graphic novel, by Gareth Hinds.
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Note: The review copy is from the distibutor.