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Critique Paper

in English

Name:
Subject:
Teacher: Mr. Edmund Rentonar
Beowulf

Summary:
Set in 507, Beowulf is a legendary Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark with his band
of soldiers, including his best friend, Wiglaf. They meet King Hrothgar, who needs a hero to
slay Grendel, a hideously malformed troll-like creature with appalling strength and cunning.
Grendel attacks Heorot, Hrothgar's mead hall, whenever the Danes held a celebration, and
Hrothgar has been forced to close the hall. Upon arriving, Beowulf becomes attracted to
Hrothgar's wife, Queen Wealtheow, who reciprocates his interest.
Beowulf and his men celebrate in Heorot to lure Grendel out. When the beast attacks,
Beowulf engages him unarmed and naked. During the fight, Beowulf discovers that Grendel
has hypersensitive hearing, which is why he interrupts Hrothgar's celebrations the noise they
make is physically painful to him. After his left eardrum is ruptured by Beowulf, Grendel shrinks in
size and attempts to escape. Beowulf restrains Grendel and severs his left arm with the door. In
thanks for freeing his kingdom from the monster, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his golden drinking horn,
which commemorates Hrothgar's victory over the mighty dragon Fafnir.
In his cave, the dying Grendel tells his mother what was done to him, and she swears
revenge. She travels to Heorot and slaughters Beowulf's men while they are sleeping. Hrothgar
tells both Beowulf and Wiglaf, who had been sleeping outside the hall during the attack, that it
was the work of Grendel's mother. She is the last of the Water Demons, who were thought to have
left the land. Beowulf and Wiglaf travel to the demon's cave to slay her. Beowulf enters the cave
alone and encounters the demon, who takes the form of a beautiful woman. She offers to make
him the greatest king who ever lived, in exchange for Hrothogar's drinking horn and a son, to
replace Grendel.
Beowulf agrees to the deal and returns, claiming to have killed her. Hrothgar, however,
realizes the truth. He indirectly tells Beowulf that, much like him, Hrothgar was seduced by her,
and Grendel was the result of their tryst. Hrothgar crowns Beowulf king, much to the dismay of his
royal advisor, Unferth, who was hoping to take the throne. Hrothgar then commits suicide by
jumping from the castle parapet onto the beach below. A wave momentarily engulfs Hrothgar's
body, there is a golden flash underwater, and the body is gone.
Years later, the elderly Beowulf is married to Wealtheow. Over the years they had grown
apart, husband and wife in name alone. Beowulf takes a mistress, Ursula, but his tryst with
Grendel's mother has left him sterile. One day, Unferth's slave Cain finds the golden drinking horn
in a swamp near Grendel's cave and brings it back to the kingdom. That night, a nearby village is
destroyed by a dragon, which leaves Unferth alive to deliver a message to King Beowulf: the
dragon is Beowulf's son born to Grendel's mother. Removing the horn has voided the agreement
between Beowulf and Grendel's mother, who has now sent their son, the dragon, to destroy his
kingdom.
Beowulf and Wiglaf go to the cave once again and Beowulf enters the cave alone. When
Grendel's mother appears, Beowulf gives her the golden horn, but she refuses to stop the attacks.
The dragon flies straight towards Beowulf's home, threatening Wealtheow and Ursula. Despite his
age, Beowulf goes to great lengths to stop the dragon, even slicing off his own arm. Eventually, he
kills the dragon by ripping its heart out. A mortally wounded Beowulf watches the dragon
transforming into a humanoid body and washing out to sea. As Wiglaf approaches him, Beowulf
tries to tell the truth about his affair with Grendel's mother, but Wiglaf insists on keeping his legacy
intact. Beowulf then dies.
As the new king, Wiglaf gives Beowulf a Norse funeral. Grendel's mother appears and gives
Beowulf a final kiss before his burning ship sinks into the sea. Wiglaf sees the golden horn washed
by the waves of the sea in the sand while Grendel's mother floats in the sea, looking at him
seductively. The movie ends ambiguously with Wiglaf holding the horn and staring back at her,
leaving his fate unknown.

Characters:

The title character, Beowulf, is portrayed by Ray Winstone.


The antagonist Grendel is portrayed by Crispin Glover
Grendel's mother is portrayed by Angelina Jolie.
King Hrothgar is portrayed by Anthony Hopkins.
Unferth is portrayed by John Malkovich.
The cast also includes:

Brendan Gleeson as Wiglaf, Beowulf's lieutenant


Robin Wright Penn as Queen Wealtheow
Alison Lohman as Ursula, Beowulf's concubine when he is an old king
Costas Mandylor as Hondshew
Sebastian Roche as Wulfgar
Greg Ellis as Garmund
Tyler Steelman as Young Cain, Unferth's disabled slave
Dominic Keating as Adult Cain
Rik Young as Eofor
Charlotte Salt as Estrith
Leslie Harter Zemeckis as Yrsa

Analysis:
A village in Denmark, under the rule of King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins), is under attack
by a monstrous demon named Grendel (Crispin Glover), who plunders and kills at his own
discretion. Hrothgar places a call to nations for and wide that he will give half the gold of his
kingdom to any man who can slay Grendel and help restore peace to his land, infuriating his
bravest warrior, Unferth (John Malkovich). The call is answered by a warrior named Beowulf (Ray
Winstone) who comes with his men ,including his best friend Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson), to slay
Grendel and claim their glory. And Beowulf does just what he says he will do he slays Grendel.
However, this evokes the wrath of Grendels Mother (Angelina Jolie), a more powerful demon who
makes Beowulf an offer he cant refuse. Flash forward to many years later and Beowulfs kingdom
is under siege by another Grendel-like demon. Beowulfs queen (Robin Wright Penn) knows
something is up and knows what he has done, just as she knew what Hrothgar had done. Beowulf
regrets the decisions of his past and wants to end the madness once and for all. I hope I am not
giving anything away, but the good guys dont win. The story does not end on a happy note.
Revenge is satisfied and the revenger fulfilled.
There are some severely boring segments of this film. Screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger
Avary try to keep everything interesting and fast-moving, but they just cant. Maybe its because
the least interesting character in the film is the character of Beowulf. Maybe its the way Ray
Winstone plays him, or the continued inability to perfect mans speech rhythms and tones, but
something about Beowulf is just not accessible. But, if youre going to see Beowulf, 3-D is the way
to go. I had the chance to see the film in the Real-D 3-D at Rave Motion Pictures, and theres a
reason why 3-D is sold as a gimmick, which is evident throughout the film. Action scenes become
more intense, dance sequences more unhinged and ordinary everyday things more interesting.
However, this is not enough to make an interesting films. Remove the gimmick from this film and
you dont have very much at all a compact and precise story expanded to make room for more
romance, more action and more 300"-esque exclamations that seem more parody than anything
else and received a mixture of laughs and wide eyes from the audience. Beowulf seems to be
evoking more Gerard Butler than the ancient warriors and his David & Goliath method of killing
Grendel just seems far too tame and pedestrian in the big screen. Also why make Grendel so
sympathetic? Hes far more menacing when you are not hating the supposed hero for killing him.
Kudos to Robert Zemeckis for casting Crispin Glover as Grendel. Talk about outside-the-
box thinking that really pays off. Glover is perfect in the role, especially when Grendel is down in
the bog, spitting out Middle-English like its pig-Latin. Angelina Jolie is also effective as Grendels
Mother, whose wrath comprises the second half of the film, in various forms. Anthony Hopkins and
John Malkovich both do fine service to their roles, as Hrothgar and Unferth, and Brendan Gleeson
has some sly comic touches in the role of steadfast sidekick. I save Ray Winstone for last because he
was the most disappointing and totally miscast. He is not convincing. He is the only character
whose animated self does not match up, at least a little, with what he looks like in reality. Maybe
this is what is so distracting, because it doesnt seem like that voice would come from a character
like that. Plus, Winstone is obviously not made for voicing animated characters proof positive
being his voice performance from The Chronicles of Narnia. Some actors just dont need to step
away from the screen. Had the character of Beowulf been more interesting, and had Ray
Winstone been more interesting playing him, I might have enjoyed the film far more than I did.
Instead, I could only sit and witch how motion capture animation still has light years to go. It will
never replace real actors because it just cant convey the same emotional range. When the day
comes that it can convey that range, it wont be animation anymore. Itll be live action again.
So, do I recommend Beowulf to audiences? Yes and no. I recommend you check the film
out in the 3-D theatre of your choice, because thats the way its meant to be seen. And it offers a
few nice visual touches that will probably leave a lot of people satisfied. However, I dont
recommend the film on its merits, because I feel it missed a lot of opportunities and drags for far
too long. Robert Zemeckis needs to return to his live action roots and start giving us something
with characters whose eyes dont look like two tiny black dots in a head. Maybe if he would have
went all out with his original NC-17 vision, things might have ended up better. Or, not. Who knows.
The point is that Beowulf is disappointing. Its not so disappointing that Im telling you not to see
it, because I wont discourage anyone from having a truly unique movie-going experience, and
this form of 3-D entertainment is definitely unique. What Im saying is this At the end of the
day, when all of the smoke has settled and the box office numbers have tumbled in and the actors
have been paid and the director is off to his next project what point did Beowulf have?
Reaction :
When I first heard about the title, I was disappointed because it sounds like it was so dull
that I will just feel very sleepy and tired. I like the name of the hero since it sounds very unique and
appealing but it will sound even more appealing if the title is not that. They should have think of
a unique title. It is very effortless that the title is the name of the hero and the villain. It is so
common. I didn't have the second thought because it's obvious that the title is the main character
of the story or the film. The effect of the film caught my eye. I was really amazed about the
animation. It looks like half real people but half cartoon. I like the effects but I'm not quite
satisfied about some scene. Some scenes are violent and can affect the audience. I like the fact
that Beowulf offered himself to attack Grendel. He volunteered himself as the savior of that
country. That's a good example for the audience. He is very strong and has the confidence to fight.
He sets a good example as he thinks about other people's life before his own. He served his people.
He risked his own life for the people on the kingdom. But the best trait that he has is not fearing of
his own death. He didn't care about all the wealth that he had received. There are also some parts
that I didn't understand because of the accent of the voice. They should have pronounced it very
clearly. But they are good. Really good! Beowulf is a great example for the people. He is ready to
die for his own kingdom and he is not afraid to die. He thinks first about other people before
himself. He is ready to fight. I just hope that there are some people like him that still exist. I like the
character of Wiglaf because he showed us that he was a true friend. He was always beside
Beowulf. He didn't ask for more. He is a good example for all of us. He didn't wished for wealth so
he was blessed. He was Beowulf's replacement so now he has the kingdom and that's a great
achievement. In the first part, there is a character that have said something like "we don't need
God, we need a hero". I don't like that part but I know it's just a movie and I shouldn't be
preaching about God and stuff. I notice some effects that made the movie so messy. Maybe the
director used so much of the effects. I advice them not to depend it all to their new technologies.
They should have control the lighting effects and the sounds. Some part is not also realistic and
they should have enhance it to look more down-to-earth.

Lessons Learned:

Because Beowulf is a classic epic - a tale of a hero, with specific super-human heroic
qualities battling evil and winning - I'm not sure that there is a moral beyond the most obvious:
good wins over evil through the virtues of courage, strength, loyalty, and integrity.

Consider that Beowulf possesses all of these qualities, in almost nauseating quantities.
Consider also that he battles and defeats two monsters alone (as if he is the only one who can do
so, because he is the only one who possess his heroic qualities).

Finally, in the last battle (the one with the Dragon) although Beowulf is defeated, his most
loyal apprentice, Wiglaf, summons up similar qualities found in Beowulf and wins on behalf of his
mentor, leader, and friend. It seems simplistic, but that is the nature of an epic.