Sunday, 13 January 2008

Bear vs Beowulf.

I've been to see the Beowulf : 3D film. Madame wanted to see it because Neil Gaiman was involved in the script. I wanted to see it because I have no life, never get to go anywhere, and thought there would be lots of monsters and things hitting one another. Or because I thought it would be an interesting culture experience. One of the two. You decide.

It was tosh. Posh, entertaining tosh - with extra proddy and splashy 3D fun. But tosh.

And I did feel sorry for poor old Grendel the monster. There he was, minding his own business, when the neighbours start having noisy parties - drinking ye olde mead, ogling the wenches, and singing rugby songs. He pops down to complain and it all kicks off. He ends up being jumped by some big naked goon with the voice of Ray Winstone.

To add insult to injury the big goon then gets off with Grendel's mother - a dodgy type who likes to wander around in high heels and gold paint and nothing else. This is all happening Up North - Norway, I think, or somewhere like that - you'd think she'd get cold. It all goes horribly, horribly wrong and everyone ends up dead or nearly toasted by a dragon, apart from Beowulf's mate, Wee Gloves, who quite sensibly has stayed out of it all.

It's a modern interpretation of the story. I thought I would make the effort and have a look at the source material. Unfortunately my knowledge of Old English is a little rusty. Completely rusty. Non-existent. One of the three. Madame has found me a modern English prose translation.

Hum. Apparently there are many translations to choose from so it might be a little early for me to be drawing my conclusions. But it is reading like a "Songs of Praise" special from Stavanger. Tolkein reports back on fisticuffs at the after show tea party. Maidens eek as the Lord's name is taken in vain and macaroons are crushed beneath the boots of heroes with more consonants than brain cells.

I have to be honest - me and her do have a low tolerance for any stories that involve the likes of "Brave Hgrlfrt, son of Strguflt, did gird himself with his golden armour and did heft his magic sword, Krtlmngy, and did travel westward ... blah blah blah ... until everyone was dead and the gods wandered off to watch Corrie". Lord of the Rings - Just Say No! And this is where it all began.

The film version of Beowulf does manage to make a couple of sly points about the rise of the Christian church in the pagan world. And about role in a crisis of humanist action versus religious contemplation. But you could easily miss them if you rustle your popcorn at the wrong moment.

I haven't seen it but Madame suggests that if you intend to see one Neil Gaiman related film then try to see the recent film version of his novel Stardust - a sweet and funny fairytale.

Right. I'm off to fight diverse monsters with my magical letter opener, Smgrflt. I will gird myself with woolly vest and pants and magical tin foil armour.

Or I might just have a nap.

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