Friday, September 07, 2007

Flogging Beowulf

Using my new powers as a Beowulf webmaster, I inflicted the trailer on my students in both the freshman course and the (junior-level) film class. It's odd enough to be teaching the text to two different classes with two different translations (let me gripe once more about the Crossley-Holland version being replaced in the Longman Anthology with a far inferior one). But upon being presented with the trailer, they all responded with "That's Grendel's mother?!" Referring of course to the golden bikini-clad Angelina Jolie with the prehensile hair, which you can see for yourself by going to the official website and clicking on the "Video" link (you don't have to watch the video, she's the image on that page, but if you click on that link I get webmaster points!).

The clip goes by really fast with a lot of quick cuts, so you might miss Grendel's mother telling Beowulf she could give him a son -- say what?! Are they suggesting that Grendel is Beowulf's son? Or that she's going to give Grendel a brother?

I would say the trailer was met with stunned silence, but that so quickly turned to laughter it's hard to make an argument for that. In the film class, I tagged the images as we saw them ("um...frozen ship, uh...bridge of fire...") which only made us laugh more. One student argued in favor of the success of computer enhancement using 300 as an example, but it's not the creepy motion-capture that Beowulf is. Perhaps we should rely on superior special effects of a true master:

I'll have to carve out a few minutes to listen to the podcasts available only to us webmasters (I think?) and see what the story is on the, er, story.


Gene Kannenberg, Jr. said...

In re: the Lego Beowulf (or maybe "Legowulf"?) - I always knew that there had to be something simian-like about Grendel!

And: I haven't watched it all the way through yet, but here's a Legowulf that uses some pretty smooth stop-motion animation...

C. Margery Kempe said...

I like the nomenclature! Some of you may not be aware that Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf is known (dismissively) among medievalists as the "Heaneywolf."

C. Margery Kempe said...

Listening to the first podcast. Apparently Tolkien invented Beowulf scholarship (!) and "Herot" is a land (!), but they do play the clip from Annie Hall where Woody Allen warns Diane Keaton against taking "any class where they make you read Beowulf."

They misrepresent The 13th Warrior which they clearly have not seen (well, they only run a site dedicated to movies, so it's not like they should have any expertise, right?), but they do mention the always horrible Christopher Lambert Beowulf.

They also refer to Julie Taymor's opera based on Gardner's Grendel as "a musical." They're only facts, after all. Painful: but they're the folks the producers have chosen to flog the film. Guess I'll have to work up the energy for the next podcast (by the by, they're accessible to all on the website).

CL said...

I agree with your class..
"That's Grendel's mother?!"