I’m sure that I was not the only one who had the uniquely unpleasant experience of daydreaming through high school English class while an odd and dry old teacher tried to explain the meaning of archaic-sounding words containing letters from a language not quite English. Of course I’m talking about “Beowulf,” the lengthy and arduous relic of a millennium ago that somehow is still relevant in schools today.
I’m sure at this point in the article all the English majors have lit this fine publication on fire and several important authors have rolled over in their graves in protest. I don’t mean to bash a cultural treasure, but would I really be a more cultured or better person if I could understand what “sceaena reatum, meodosetla ofteah” meant?
Though I’m sure that “Beowulf” has some historic significance, the fact remains that I really only view it as a mental torture device for teens who desire to be on the honor roll.
This remained my point of view about Beowulf as I was invited to see the newest bastardization of this simple plot about a Geat (I don’t know what it is either) who travels far and wide killing man beasts and dragon ladies. Although I was predisposed against ever experiencing such literary distress, I researched this film to find that the same animation scheme that produced the “Polar Express” would be utilized in “Beowulf.” Just the thought of two hours of endless unintelligible jabber interrupted only by CG fighting scenes that looked more like rough claymation looked to be pure agony. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled about the prospects of the film.
Fortunately, I, like millions of other viewers, was ultimately drawn out of my predisposition against literature for a chance at staring for a few moments at Angelina Jolie’s animated breasts. And I’m happy to say that I was not at all disappointed. Though the nudity was sub par, at least in my opinion (I can’t speak for the gaggles of 13-year-old boys who crowd every showing), the rest of the film surpassed every expectation I had.
“Beowulf,” the full length action adventure directed by Robert Zemeckis, is everything that the original written masterpiece is not. Bolstered by an all-star cast of Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and the aforementioned Jolie, the film was exciting, marginally witty and interesting all at once.
Violence, nudity and humor that I can understand all helped make this “classic” piece of literature come alive for the first time in the mind of this journalist. Though this may seem puerile, sexist or debauched, there is no denying that this movie reinvigorated and, to much of an extent, re-imagined, what this mythic tale could convey.
Though at times the fluid motion animation (especially the running) reminded me of the “Mario Brothers” videogames, I found the visuals quite believable.
Though many computer animation fanatics may scream about how simplistic the graphics were, I respond to that by also showing how “Beowulf” hacks are in an uproar about the deviation from the original epic tale. Both of these claims, and many others like them, simply nitpick at a really solid movie that might, unlike most I have seen, have been worth the $8 I spent to see it.
Outside of technical categories, I highly doubt that this movie will win any significant awards or recognition. However, I admit – despite my adamant hatred of the original – that I could not help but be entertained for two hours, which is what I most require out of my entertainment.
Burnett is a member of the class of 2010.