The Monsters of Beowulf
The Monsters of Beowulf Although the 2007 film Beowulf, produced by Robert Zemeckis, was inspired by the Old English epic poem by the same name, the writers, Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, altered the story in several ways to fit the big screen. Three of the most notable changes in the screenplay are the monsters, Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. First of all, the writers of the Beowulf screenplay changed several things about Grendel. In the poem, Grendel is portrayed as a “man-eating, troll-like creature,” (Lawall 1174).
In the film by Zemeckis, Grendel is more of a frail, child-like creature. The change of Grendel from monster to a child-like being takes away the fear of the beast that the original story put in the reader. Also, throughout the screenplay, Hrothgar implies that he is the father of Grendel. In the scene after Beowulf’s triumph over Grendel’s mother, Hrothgar says to Beowulf, “The mother, the hag… She’s not my curse, not anymore. Not anymore,” (Zemeckis). Gaiman and Avary also drastically changed Grendel’s mother.
In the original Beowulf, Grendel’s mother is described as “that swamp-thing from hell,” (Lawall 1213). Dean Traylor states in her article, “Beowulf: The Movie versus the Poem – The Changing Face of Heroism,” “Unlike the poetic version, Grendal’s mother in the movie (played by Angelia Jolie) is a sultry temptress whose beauty and sex appeal are more powerful and dangerous than her demonic traits,” (Traylor 2). In changing the appearance of the swamp hag, again the fear that the poem placed in the reader is lost.
In her article titled, “Beowulf: Tenuous Relationship between Movie and Poem,” on World Socialist Web Site, Margaret Rees states, “Gone is the titanic struggle against Grendel’s mother—the “monstrous hell-bride,” “the tarn-hag in all her monstrous strength”. Instead, the filmmakers have created a beautiful siren; her only monstrous feature a whip-like tail,” (Rees). The swamp hag created by Zemeckis scarcely resembles the original. Furthermore, in the poem, the dragon attacked Beowulf’s kingdom because its golden goblet was stolen, not because of a thirsting revenge for its sinful father, like the screenplay shows.
Works Cited “Beowulf. ” The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Ed. Sarah N. Lawall. Eighth ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. 1174-247. Print. Traylor, Dean. “Beowulf: The Movie versus the Poem – The Changing Face of Heroism. ” Helium. N. p. , 20 Nov. 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. . Rees, Margaret. “Beowulf: Tenuous Relationship between Movie and Poem. ” World Socialist Web Site. N. p. , 1 Mar. 2008. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. http://www. wsws. org/en/articles/2008/03/beow-m01. html. Beowulf. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. By Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. 2007. DVD.