Beowulf on Film

Adaptations and Variations


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About the Book

Why did the most read work in English literature go without cinematic adaptation for so long? And why did five major film treatments appear between 1999 and 2008? This book explores the growing number of films based on the Old English epic poem Beowulf, and furthers the ongoing consideration of filmic medievalism. Will the powerful influence of cinema affect the future reception of this great cultural, linguistic and inherently visual work? The films inevitably sway away from not only the story but also from the themes and concerns of the original to those more interesting to the filmmakers—or responsive to the zeitgeist. They measure the pulse of our inherited notions of heroism and teach us more about our own times than about the epic from which they derive.

About the Author(s)

Nickolas Haydock is a professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. In addition to movie medievalism and film, he also writes about medieval Scots literature.

E.L. Risden, emeritus professor of English at St. Norbert College, lives in De Pere, Wisconsin, where he continues to write literary and movie scholarship, speculative fiction, and occasional poetry.

Bibliographic Details

Nickolas Haydock and E.L. Risden

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6338-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0617-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction—A Freud Complex and the Problem of Beowulf in Film  (E.L. Risden)      1

1—Film Theory, the Sister Arts Tradition and the Cinematic Beowulf  (Nickolas Haydock) 27
2—The Cinematic Commoditization of Beowulf: The Serial Fetishizing of a Hero  (E.L. Risden) 66
3—Making Sacrifices  (Nickolas Haydock) 81
4—The Hero, the Mad Male Id and a Feminist Beowulf: The Sexualizing of an Epic  (E.L. Risden) 119
5—O Dragon, Where Art Thou? “Othering” in Beowulf Films  (E.L. Risden) 132
6—Meat Puzzles: Beowulf and the Horror Film  (Nickolas Haydock) 143
7—Our Man Beowulf: Bowra, Ker and the Contemporary Struggle with Heroism  (E.L. Risden) 167

Conclusion—The Postmodern Beowulf  (Nickolas Haydock) 177
Chapter Notes 191
Works Cited 201
Index 205

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Recommended”—Bookgasm
  • “Intriguing”—ProtoView
  • “Recommend this highly”—Destructive Music