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A COMPARATIVE BEOWULF MOVIE AND EPIC POEM ANALYSIS

The Anglo-Saxon period is a phase in history which ranges from the year 550-1066. The evolution of literature can be traced back from this era wherein literary pieces were influenced by two opposing forces - Paganism and Christianity. The Anglo-Saxon language, filled with remarkable force and vigour, originated from the German language. During this time frame, lots of literary works emerged; but because of its oral mode of transition, these works eventually "died". However, among all these pieces, only one great work survived - the epic poem entitled Beowulf. Written in Old English, the poem showed Beowulf, a hero of the Geats in Scandinavia who went to help the people of Denmark led by King Hrothgar. The mead hall of the kingdom known as Heorot had been plagued by a monster called Grendel. After Beowulf defeated the unusual being, Grendel's mother attacked the hall and was also terminated. Glorious and victorious Beowulf went back to Geatland and became the king for 50 prosperous years. He grew old, but another terror came - the appearance of a fierce dragon. Beowulf did not defeat the monster; and worse, the compensation for this battle was his own life. Being unable to read the full-length original composition, I had no background on the setting of the poem. My only basis for the setting is my imagination. As the story was narrated to us, I drew in my mind that the Heorot or the folkhall, as it was usually called was located in a place near the main avenue where many people could easily access it. The reason behind this inference is that as described, there are always many people in the mead hall just to drink and have fun. However, contrary to what I visualized, the hall in the movie was in some place that seemed deserted. It was the only structure standing in the area and no other buildings could be seen anywhere around it. I expected that Beowulf would look strong yet dignified. I can say that I was right in both parts because he possessed a muscular build and looked like someone well-respected by his colleagues. I did not think that he was the type of person who strips off whenever battle occurred. I think it was already part of their culture, so I

was wrong not to prepare myself for those. In terms of Beowulfs appearance, I had imagined him almost very closely to the character in the film a largely-built man with a beard. There were few changes in the characters in the film and in the epic poem. For one, in the latter part of the movie when Beowulf was already battling with the terrifying dragon, a beautiful young woman was shown. The lady was introduced as Beowulfs new love interest. I think she was added to tell us that nothing in this world is permanent, even us, human beings change. No matter how much you liked a person in the past, your feelings will surely change as time goes by; and people, especially growing ones often seek adventure to fulfil their desires in life. In the epic poem, after Beowulf defeated Grendel, the monsters mother came to attack Heorot by surprise, but was killed by Beowulf in the process. There was no scene like that in the movie. What happened there was that the fearless Beowulf went into the womans lair in a swamp under a lake and attempted to fight her there. However, Grendels mother, overflowing with appeal, told Beowulf to stay and make a child for her, and in return, he would become a king. The man, no matter how tough he was, gave in to the temptation. This scene demonstrates mans weakness to earthly pleasures. In the movie, Beowulf became the king of the Danes, because the King Hrothgar handed the throne to him for his prominence. Contrary to this, the mighty warrior did not become the king of Denmark, but instead, he went back to his hometown, Geatland to rule there for 50 years. Another part which I found different was Beowulfs heart-racing battle with the dragon. In the poem, the protagonist did not manage to defeat the dragon, because he was mortally wounded and he died earlier. In the film, it was shown that Beowulf had beaten the dragon, but nonetheless died. This part was probably intended to emphasize how great Beowulf was, that even he was gravely hurt, he still went on and overpowered the opponent. All throughout the movie, there are lots of scenes that suggested that Grendels mother was indeed the root of all evil. It was also determinable that King

Hrothgar was Grendels father and Beowulf was the dragons father. The plot gives us the idea that Grendels mother practically controls the kingship in the kingdom of Danes, that whoever agrees to make a child with her would become king. In my own perspective, I can say that the movie production staff did a good job in portraying the epic poem. Although it was not very loyal to the original story, the movie showed enough to prove the greatness of an Anglo-Saxon hero. Also, with a re-imagined plot, the story became more interesting and unpredictability was better observed. I would also commend the graphic designer of the movie for giving a more realistic feel to the characters and the setting. The visual effects were also good and they emphasized the important details especially during fighting scenes. The epic poem Beowulf is one of the greatest works in the Anglo-Saxon period. Although it depicts life as sorrowful, fatalistic, sententious, idealistic and moralistic, the story teaches us significant lessons. It teaches us that the course of life is not always smooth; it is full of ups and downs. It makes us realize that heroic deeds are accompanied by huge responsibilities. It also shows that fate could bring both lucks and curses. Overall, Beowulf is a good literary piece to read, not only because of its valuable story, but also because of the historical background that encircles around it.

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