Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Retelling Old Stories: Beowulf, Authenticity, and Ownership

Went to see Beowulf last night with Nicole, John, and John's little brother. Had to do dinner first, complete with me getting made fun of for my lack of voice and ending with a conversation on the meaning of "dainty."

As an English major, at one point I read Beowulf. Afterwards, I promptly forgot most of it. Also as an English major, I've had a classmate who was in a few classes with me and who is obsessed with Beowulf. By this point, whatever interest I originally had has been squashed by this classmate's over-healthy zeal. Then, I hear Neil wrote it. Okay, I'm in.

My main beef is that the movie follows the tale too closely. Okay, they take liberties with a few points, but plot-wise it's the same story I had to read in Brit. Lit. 1 *Sigh*

I wish they'd have taken more liberties and followed the saga less precisely. The big time jump, particularly, was where they lost me. First story ends, we jump a few decades, and the second story begins. Everything in between is cut away. Of course, that's the accuracy coming through. But, don't they owe more to the story than to just retell it?

"But they don't!" You argue. "They changed lots!"

True, but the changes weren't enough for me. I wanted a re-imagining of the story, along the lines of Roald Dahl's version of Cinderella, or The Mists of Avalon. I felt like the writers had been too loyal to the original and sacrificed their ownership. I'm frustrated with it because it seems like they got so close to what I was hoping for, but shied away in the end. Speaking of the end, yeesh. Not so good.

Still, this isn't to say that the movie was bad. It's decent. But, as far as versions of Beowulf go, the one with Gerard Butler and Stellan Skarsgard is still my favorite. Sorry Neil.


The One and Only John said...

It felt to me like there were parts missing from the movie. Not that there were giant plotholes, (that I could find anyway) but it seemed like it was moving rather quickly for a movie. I expected it to be longer than it was. The trouble with animation is getting the plot sequence down pat in pre-production is crucial, because it takes so long do render scenes. Movies like that make me wonder what the drama behind the scenes was like.

Nicole said...

I hear that the genuine 3-D version is cool. Explains some of those long spear pointing scenes.