The differences between Beowulf movie and text   8 comments

Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem about Geats warrior who helped King Hrothgar of Danes to defend his kingdom from Grendel, a monster who lay in the cave with its mother. This alliterative poem has the movie version which was created in 2007 with the same title. However, there are some differences of the story between the original text and the movie version.

In the movie, Grendel attacked Heorot, the massive gathering hall of Danish people, by smashing the door and started to kill the Danish people in the middle of the feast. On the other hands, the text version, which is translated by Francis B. Gummere, said that Grendel attacked when the people were fallen asleep after the feast.

WENT he forth to find at fall of night                        [line 1537]
that haughty house, and heed wherever
the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone.
Found within it the atheling band
asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow,
of human hardship. Unhallowed wight,
grim and greedy, he grasped betimes,
wrathful, reckless, from resting-places,
thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed
fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward,
laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.

In the movie version, after Beowulf killed Grendel, he came to the Grendel’s lair and faced Grendel’s mother. Grendel’s mother came from water of the cave. Then, she tempted Beowulf with promising of wealth that beyond of his imagination and will make him to be a greatest king, as long as he lived and loved her and give her a son. Later, the son was told as a dragon which attacked the Danish kingdom.

After that, Beowulf came back to Heorot and brought Grendel’s head to prove that he prevailed to slained Grendel. King Hrothgar decided to suicide, because he submitted to his fate that he could not have a son to continue his kingdom. So, Beowulf became the king of Danes.

From this part, however, the story is rather different from the text version. In the text version, Beowulf fiercely fought against Grendel’s mother as in this translation from Francis B. Gummere:

Seized then by shoulder, shrank not from combat,                [line 1537]
the Geatish war-prince Grendel’s mother.
Flung then the fierce one, filled with wrath,
his deadly foe, that she fell to ground.
Swift on her part she paid him back
with grisly grasp, and grappled with him.
Spent with struggle, stumbled the warrior,
fiercest of fighting-men, fell adown.
On the hall-guest she hurled herself, hent her short sword,
broad and brown-edged, the bairn to avenge,
the sole-born son. — On his shoulder lay
braided breast-mail, barring death,
withstanding entrance of edge or blade.
Life would have ended for Ecgtheow’s son,
under wide earth for that earl of Geats,
had his armor of war not aided him,
battle-net hard, and holy God
wielded the victory, wisest Maker.
The Lord of Heaven allowed his cause;
and easily rose the earl erect.

After winning the battle against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf came back to the Geats to become a king in Geatland, not in Danish kingdom like in movie version, as this text translation:

Now further it fell with the flight of years,                    [line 2200]
with harryings horrid, that Hygelac perished,

and Heardred, too, by hewing of swords
under the shield-wall slaughtered lay,
when him at the van of his victor-folk
sought hardy heroes, Heatho-Scilfings,
in arms o’erwhelming Hereric’s nephew.
Then Beowulf came as king this broad
realm to wield; and he ruled it well
fifty winters, a wise old prince,
warding his land, until One began

After fifty winters he became a king, his land was attacked by a dragon. The dragon attacked the land because its golden goblet was stolen, not because a revenge for its sinful father just like in the movie version, as translated in:

In the grave on the hill a hoard it guarded,                    [line 2212]
in the stone-barrow steep. A strait path reached it,
unknown to mortals. Some man, however,
came by chance that cave within
to the heathen hoard. In hand he took
a golden goblet, nor gave he it back,
stole with it away, while the watcher slept,
by thievish wiles: for the warden’s wrath
prince and people must pay betimes!

THAT way he went with no will of his own,
in danger of life, to the dragon’s hoard,
but for pressure of peril, some prince’s thane.
He fled in fear the fatal scourge,
seeking shelter, a sinful man,
and entered in. At the awful sight

A sinful man in the translation above referred to the man who stole the treasure, not to Beowulf like in the movie version.

In the text translation, it is told that Finn, a Frisian chieftain, had been slain by Guthlaf and Oslaf in his home. It is contrary with the movie version. Instead of been slain, Finn was released by Beowulf and was given some gold for his journey to home.

On fierce-heart Finn there fell likewise,                        [line 1146]
on himself at home, the horrid sword-death;
for Guthlaf and Oslaf of grim attack
had sorrowing told, from sea-ways landed,
mourning their woes.[1] Finn’s wavering spirit
bode not in breast. The burg was reddened
with blood of foemen, and Finn was slain,
king amid clansmen; the queen was taken.
To their ship the Scylding warriors bore
all the chattels the chieftain owned,
whatever they found in Finn’s domain
of gems and jewels. The gentle wife
o’er paths of the deep to the Danes they bore,
led to her land.


8 responses to “The differences between Beowulf movie and text

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  1. thanks! :)

  2. thanks for the info…i learn a lot from your blog..please keep on blogging….

  3. thanks for your commments :D

  4. really helpful! thank you very much! :)

  5. it sucks!!
    trollollollollollollollollol!!! XD
    No, it was really helpfull! thanks!!

  6. Thanks for this! :)

  7. thank you! you helped me alot on my essay!

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