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Contemporary Literature: Beowulf, the Movie

Beowulf is an American performance that is founded on the “Angola-Saxon English epic poem,” currently considered as one of the earliest and most influential poems of the modern-day European dialect. The 2007 film, directed by American director Robert Zemeckis, was produced through an action capture and process technique, comparable with other high-ranking movies of its genre. It is the conventional heading of an old poem which in its making, survived in a single manuscript, based on an anonymous poet that is dated between the 8th and the 11th century (Quinn 69). Additionally, the storyline of the film is very interesting, with very amazing descriptions, most of which have been adapted to fit the expectations of the avid Hollywood fan.

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Hrothgar, the king of Danes, opens the film with great celebration on his making of the mead hall. According to the Old-English poem, “As now warriors sang of their pleasure….so Hrothgar’s men lived happily in this hall.” However, the music that is played is irritating and a bit disturbing to the hideous, and grotesque creature, referred to in the movie as Grendel, who attacks the mead hall and kills almost all the people there (Ambrose 30). Hrobgar decides to retreat back and challenge him to a fight. At this very same time, Beowulf, a hero and a self-proclaimed saint and helper of others, comes from the neighboring village to assist King Hrothgar’s current situation (Carnevale 47). He slays the beast and soon after, becomes the king of the village that has had most of its men killed by varied monsters. He finds his empire terrorized by a dragon whose treasure was stolen from its safe during an interment mound and, being the hero that he is, stands out to defend it. Even though they attack the dragon using his ‘thegns,’ they are still unsuccessful (Smith 22). The dragon runs away, with Beowulf hot on its trail. Only of his relatives is daring and courageous enough to offer assistance and support. Beowulf finally exterminates the dragon together with Grendel’s mother, at the price of being fatally wounded himself. He dies and his relative buries him by the sea.

The movie tries to heighten the character of the epic of antiquity, where it simply starts in the middle (into the middle of certain affairs). Although the movie starts with the arrival of Beowulf, as the movie continues, we get to realize that the attacks from Grendel have been going on for some time (Quinn 69). A complex history of characters is introduced and their roots are spoken of, as well as their connections with one another. Debts owed are reviled and a strategy to repaying them is laid. It becomes their mission to repay the debt that was passed to them through generations, and the act of valor is pressed (Smith 12).

Beowulf is a one-dimensional sort of character that is portrayed as a hero and a warrior and that was all he was, until his dying day (Smith 12). As the main character, Beowulf is considered as is in the heroic poem. He travels miles to prove his strength and commitment to his village. This happens in strange and impracticable situations and against all odds and supernatural demons and imps. He incurs the hellish rage of the beasts and that epic clash that creates the all-time legend in Beowulf. With a self-imposed purpose of helping others throughout his entire life, he ultimately sacrifices his own life when he takes the final plunge to kill the dragon. Within the short time that the viewer encounters the character, he endures more tragedy and overwhelming accomplishments than any ordinary man ever can in an entire lifetime. His initial motive for crossing the sea to see Hrothgar was in order to repay a debt owed to the king by the hero’s father. Overcoming the beast, Grendel, was only the beginning of pursuit for peace and tranquility for the trouble-riddled village. He still has to rid the countryside of the beast’s mother, a battle which is not as simple as that of killing the son. Finally, he has to face the dragon, a battle which leads to the end of his life. After the destruction of these ‘demons,’ peace once again prevails in the nation (Carnevale 67). The destruction of this evil, though being an exceptional feat in itself, is overshadowed by Beowulf’s purpose for the engagements. He fights not for glory or power, but for the sake of the repayment of debt owed by his father as well as for the sake of the Danes. He seeks no compensation for his actions, relishing the satisfaction of helping those in need; an exceptional character that truly makes him a hero amongst heroes (Carnevale 72).

This movie is considered to be a lot of fun, and the impact has been considerably increasing. The plot of this movie is considered to be very comprehensive in all stages of the scenes. The rising of one battle to the other, and the heroic moves made to deal with them, just leaves a sense of excitement in the viewers. They introduce small bits in hints of theology, that bring in the debate of how Christians have displaced the traditional mythic of religion. The concentration on the heroic activities involvements, and the man carrying the weight to be the hero, brings in Beowulf as the self-aggrandizing hero is just brilliant. The movie creates an oozing smile and blood all wracked with pain, but victory is found finally.


Ambrose, Tom (December 2007). He Is Legend. Denver: MacMurray Printing Press, 1999. Print.

Beowulf. Prod. Robert Zemeckis, Steve Bing, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Dir. Robert Zemeckis, Perf. Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie. DVD. ImageMovers, 2007.

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Carnevale, Rob. Beowulf & other stories: an introduction to Old English. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin Publishing Company, 1992.

Quinn, Walter. English literature from Beowulf to T.S. Eliot: for the use of schools, universities and private students. Oxford: Weidmann-Greven-Verlag, 1996.

Smith, Jeremy. Sparknotes 101 literature. New York, NY: Penguin Classics, 1998.

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