and I set out, along with Awesome, Pixie and other most excellent members of Old English Reading Group (*waves* greetings Em, Hilbert), to see the much-bemoaned
Zemekis/Gaiman/Avery movie that everyone
has been going on about
for the last month. Thanks to Richard Nokes
, we had advance warning: this movie is aimed at people as dumb as Zemekis et al seem to think Anglo-Saxons were.
If you want proper reviews, check out the links I just posted- they take you to Dr Noke's comprehensive Beowulf-bashing carnival posts. I also recommend Gary Kamia's review, quoted by Dr Virago
, from which the salient point is that "Beowulf" doesn't fail because it changes the story: It fails because it is so busy juicing up the story that it does not create a mythical
universe. It seizes upon an ancient tale, whose invisible roots run deep into our psyches, and uses it to construct a shiny, plastic entertainment.
.After seeing Beowulf, I feel all edumacated
I learnt LOTS of things. *nods*
*Fifth-century Danes LOOK like characters from Shrek
and DRESS, but not consistently, like badly organised Romans.
*For some reason, unlike
Romans, fith-century Danes haven't figured out that it is a good idea to wear a tunic under your chainmail. Thus, we get Beowulf Nudity
. Presumably the fact that they haven't mastered the concept of under-tunics is responsible for Beowulf's shiny, nicely-waxed and oiled body (you'd think, after five days at sea, he'd be a bit stubbly, but no...). Can't have chest hair getting caught in your armour. No explanation has yet been offered for the lack of visible chafing as a result of wearing chainmail in a storm without a tunic.
*Faced with a group of Geats, you can tell which one the hero is, because he will look marginally less wooden than all of the others. He'll make up for it with wooden dialogue, though.
*Fifth-century Danish women are treated as chattel (please, someone send Gaiman a copy of Vicious Vikings
, before Odd and the Frost Giants
goes to print...).
*Also, unlike their men, fifth-century Danish women seem to be blessed with the amazing ability to get more realistic
-looking as they get older.
*Only Evil, Slimy People advocate Christianity.
*Anglo-Saxons and/or Danes are all about the beer and violence and sex. (well... the first two, maybe. and i guess the third doesn't get written down much by monks... But, y'know, they were ALSO about honour and family and poetry and eloquence and stuff like that.)
*If, by some miracle of cinematic license, you should have a Norman stone mot and bailey in fifth-century Denmark, the sheer friction of anachronism will cause it to catch alight
at the slightest provocation.
The dragon-fight was better than the one in Harry Potter Four, though.
And everyone note that lack of horned helmets. Points to them.So what has Beowulf done for YOU lately?
I, at least, got something
useful out of this... as I was polishing knives tonight, a happily tipsy couple come up to the till to pay their bill. They were debating whether or not to see the movie that had planned to see. My supervisor asked them what they were going to see.Beee-owh-wolf
, they informed us. Supervisor asked what it was about, and they seemed to have no idea. Should they see it or shouldn't they? Dither, dither.
I decided this was my time to step in and tell them they should DEFINITELY see something else. They seemed to like this advice, and gave us a nice credit card tip in return.