"I am Beowulf!" Not.
Yesterday, I saw Beowulf.
I know that the man was Beowulf because he reminded me repeatedly, in case I should possibly forget, that he was Beowulf.
He shouted, "I am Beowulf!"
He announced it to the audience. He announced it to sea monsters. He announced it to King Hrothgar, whose realm was under attack by the monster Grendel. He announced it one time too many when he repeated it to the mysteriously-acute-of-hearing Grendel just as he was ripping off Grendel's arm. Grendel left his arm with Beowulf but took the name back to his monstrous mother, who decided that Beowulf was precisely the man whom she'd been waiting for:
"Beowulf tore off my son's arm! Wow! What a man! Gotta have him!"Women. Who can understand them?
Anyway, Grendel's mother gets her man and bears him a mandragon, a word that I've just coined and that means either a man who is a dragon or a dragon that is a man. Anyway, this mandragon grows up surrounded by his mother's primal hoard, and in the year that marks his coming of age -- about 50, I presume -- he wings forth to slay Beowulf his father.
The 3D special effects were absolutely spectacular.
Or so I'm told. The Korean cinema where I watched the film Beowulf didn't supply the special glasses that one would need for perceiving 3D. So I sat there in my seat observing, "Oh, that would look great in 3D."
But it didn't look so great in 2D. The digital motion capture technology works better in Beowulf than it did in The Polar Express, but it doesn't yet capture emotion. The faces didn't look quite real but more like Madame Tussauds' wax images of well-known actors. In a few years, we'll all laugh at this technology's primitive state.
But since we never know when our time is coming, I've decided to laugh now.
Yet, not everything about the film is ridiculable. Some critics have faulted the movie Beowulf for not staying true to the poem Beowulf. I differ from those critics. I think that the movie takes the poem seriously but deconstructs it by suggesting that the poem was a cover-up. Yes, admits the movie, Beowulf was a hero, but those old Germanic heroes were boastful men who were not above exaggerating their genuine exploits to make them sound even more impressive. Beowulf lied in claiming to have killed Grendel's mother by piercing her repeatedly with his 'sword', though there was a real piercing and perhaps a similitude of dying ... offscreen, for the film leaves that scene to our multidimensional imagination.
Beowulf's lies haunt him and return in monstrous form -- not a mantroll this time but a mandragon, for Hrothgar, who had similarly succumbed to the monstrously beautiful succubus that had borne him Grendel, was a lesser hero than Beowulf, whose offspring was something horribly greater.
Grendel. Grendel's mother. The dragon. Thus are the monsters -- unconnected in the poem -- intimately linked through the movie, a clever reinterpretation that will get a lot of attention in upcoming Medieval conferences.
More grist for the mill...