On Aug 20, 2007, at 3:46 AM, Andrew Higgins wrote:
> . . . I don't think we should position Beowulf as "that really
> weird poem that most of you probably read through Cliff Notes in
> school" and then play a clip from Annie Hall where Woody Allen says
> to Diane Keaton - "don't take any class where you have to read
> Here is a wonderful opportunity to revive interest in Beowulf for a
> new generation (as the LOTR films did). There can be so many
> interesting ways of doing this (hopefully some new books, perhaps
> finally Tolkien's translation of Beowulf will be published), etc.
> I don't think we are inspiring this be immediately dumbing this
> work down to that really hard poem you had to read in the high-school!
Well, I'll just point out that this is the third Beowulf adaptation
in the last few years. The first two were wretchedly bad: one used
themes from Beowulf as a starting point but didn't make any attempt
to tell the actual story, and the story they came up with to replace
it was laughably bad (some idiocy about the dragon being a raiding
party of torch-wielding Neanderthals). The other re-imagined the
story so that the characters had the same names but were entirely
different in personality, motivation, behavior, &c., as well as in
most of what happened to them. The end result was appallingly bad.
Because BEOWULF itself seems to me an eminently filmable story,
and because of Gaiman's involvement, I had hopes for this third one.
Those hopes are now dashed. I'll go to see it because (a) it might be
better than the signs indicate and (b) even if bad there might be a
few bits of the original story that come through.
> --- In email@example.com, "Cole Matson" <ccematson@...> wrote:
>> Help me out here, O MythSoc Font of Knowledge. Am I losing my
>> mind? Or does this film seem to bear little resemblance to the
>> actual story? I'm not sure I like the idea that "groundbreaking
>> director Robert Zemeckis offers a unique vision of the Beowulf
>> saga in a way that it has never been told before" (from the
>> website's synopsis). I think I'd rather have the old vision.
Just to re-iterate, after the long string of postings: you're right;
the changes are massive, and ill-conceived. Whether they'll be able
to make a coherent movie or not out of what remains is now the question.
>> And another question: I know there's been a lot of discussion
>> about Peter Jackson's LOTR films, but whether you love them or
>> loathe them, I think we can pretty much agree that Jackson made an
>> attempt to honor the feelings and themes of the book. What is your
>> opinion of directors' attempts to "re-envision" myths and legends
>> that seem to make no attempt to honor the themes and characters of
>> the original story? What are the possible consequences, and are
>> there any examples that turned out well? (I started this post in
>> annoyance, but now realize it could turn into a good discussion of
>> adapted film and literature. I hope so.)
Personally I think either adaptations should be as faithful as
possible or, if they just want to use the original story as a jumping-
off point, that they shouldn't try to pass themselves off as
adaptations. What I hate are massively unfaithful re-tellings that
claim to be faithful, like the so-called "BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA".
Most feel Jackson did a fine job capturing the themes and feeling of
the books in his film(s), and that the few egregious exceptions don't
spoil the films as a whole. But this list is dominated by Jackson-
bashers, as you've seen, which is why those of us here who feel
otherwise generally don't bother to post on the subject much.
>> And will anyone be seeing this Beowulf? I was sure I would, but
>> now I doubt.
>> I may still, just to see what happens, but I now have much lower
Yes, I plan to see it, because if I'm interested in a subject I take
the good with the bad (I've read a LOT of very, very bad books on
Tolkien, as well as a lot of extremely good ones; it comes with the
territory). But like you with very low expectations.