I am assuming that you are referring to the 2007 release of Beowulf directed by Robert Zemeckis. Therefore, my answer will be based upon this production.
There are many differences between the Beowulf movie and the epic text.
1. The epic text is written from a Christian perspective. The importance of Christianity is seen throughout the text. First, Hrothgar builds Heorot because he wishes to give glory to God:
It came to his mind to order his men to build a hall, a master mead-house far mightier than any seen by the sons of earth, and therein would he bestow to young and old all that the Lord should give him, save people's land and the lives of men.
In the movie, Hrothgar and his Danes are Pagan. When Unferth comes to Hrothgar to see if the Danes should pray to the new Christian Lord Hrothgar says no.
Therefore, the ideology of Pagan and Christian are alternated.
2. In the epic text, Grendel attacks Heorot because he, a descendant of Cain, has been exiled into darkness. He could not wage war upon God himself so he, instead, waged war upon God's followers.
On the kin of Cain did the sovereign God avenge the
slaughter of Abel; Cain gained nothing from this feud and was driven far from the sight of men for that slaughter. From him awoke all those dire breeds: ogres, elves, and phantoms that warred with God a lengthy while.
In the movie, Grendel cannot stand the sound of music and singing which emanates from the walls of Heorot.
3. Beowulf, in the epic text, upholds true heroic values and acts accordingly. He stands by the code held up by the Anglo-Saxon culture. Therefore, all of his behaviors spoke to the fact that he was a true hero.
In the movie, Beowulf does not uphold all of the characteristics of a true hero. Instead, he lies about the fact that he killed Grendel's mother and he has an adulterous relationship with his queen's handmaid.
4. Lastly, the dragon which attacks the Geats and Beowulf is simply a new foe which Beowulf must face in order to fulfill his desire to die being a hero. It is best stated by Beowulf as to why a true hero must die as a result of a hero's battle:
“Do not lament, wise sire! It seems better that each man avenge his friends than to mourn them to no end. Each of us must await the end of his path in this world, and he who can, should achieve renown before death! That is the best memorial when life is past and a warrior's days are recounted.
In the movie, Beowulf dies murdering the dragon. While this is true in the text, the dragon's relationship to him is very different. In the movie, the dragon is Beowulf's son-- born as a result of his affair with Grendel's mother. Given the dragon symbolizes his failure, Beowulf feels that he must end the life of his son, the dragon.
I'm new here thought I'd give this a try. I usually meet with my professor and he proofreads my essays before I turn them in. Haven't met with him yet for this paper but thought I'd try two opinions.
Here's my prompt.
"In what important aspect does the treatment of a particular theme or idea differ between the book and the film? Can you explain the difference?" He want's us to use a structure such as this one--- 1. Introduce the text. 2. Set the context for a particular scene or passage that is important to analysis, quote or summarize, then discuss. 3. Compose a very brief conclusion that summarizes your interpretation.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
P.S.-- If anyone is good with the current MLA can someone tell me how to cite the poem because both my sources on my works cited have the same title. I thought someone told me to go to the author as the next option. Check it out and if I'm wrong let me know!
November 7, 2012
Many of the classic original texts have been transformed into films in the past decade. Many of these films can start a polemical debate. Beowulf was a transcribed poem written in present form about 1000 AD. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon traditional poem that shows heroism. Beowulf was a monster killer who travelled to help out the king of Danes, Hrothgar, by fighting a monster named Grendel and his mother. In the original poem Beowulf is displayed as a true hero to the Geats and Danes. The film displays Beowulf's heroism as a problem rather than a solution. Although the film follows the same storyline as the poem, they have different themes for courage.
One of the biggest differences found between the film and original poem is the theme of Beowulf's courage. In the film, they display Beowulf's enemy, Grendel, as an innocent, depressed creature. Grendel was an childlike monster who couldn't take the happiness and noise coming from Heorot. Grendel went to Heorot to start fighting and killing the Danes. Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, ran out of options so he tried to bribe Grendel to leave, which he rejected without any acknowledgment of all the loved ones he was killing: "he saw no need to salute the throne, he scorned the treasures; he did not know their love" (R. M. Liuzza 168-169). After Beowulf finally arrives to help out Hrothgar, we get to see Beowulf's true courage. This is displayed in both the film and original text. Beowulf decided to fight Grendel with no weapons to
keep the fight fair between the two: "this evil beast in his wildness does not care for weapons, so I too will scorn" (R. M. Liuzza 433-435). Beowulf has a lot of faith in himself to fight Grendel armour less and weapon less. This is when the viewers and readers see the first sign of courage Beowulf has.
After Beowulf defeats Grendel is when we see the main change in the theme the film gives it's viewers compared to the poem. The film gives the viewer a misunderstanding of Grendel's sinfulness. The film shows Grendel as an innocent, naive, injured monster after the fight with Beowulf. This gives the viewer the thought that the real monsters in the film are those who seek to kill Grendel. The blame for Grendel's violence could be put in Beowulf's men's hands because they brought it upon themselves by being careless. After the killing of Grendel, Beowulf meets with Grendel's mother to defeat her and all the violence Heorot has taken. The film displays Grendel's mother as an attractive female which is when Beowulf's true flaws become apparent to everyone. Grendel's mother tells Beowulf in the film that she knows he is just as much of a monster as her son was. Beowulf never killed Grendel's mother when he left her cave in the film. Instead, Beowulf gave Grendel's mother a gold piece she asked for and she would no longer attack their kingdom. In the film we can see Beowulf fall under her attractiveness and he ends up negotiating with her. After this part of the film, it leaves the viewers questioning the courage and overall opinion of Beowulf. In the poem Beowulf doesn't ever hesitate to kill Grendel's mother. The film Beowulf gives a totally new idea of the type of leader Beowulf really is.
Years pass before Beowulf's new kingdom gets hit with turmoil again. The film took a totally different approach with the ending of Beowulf than the classic text.
Beowulf must fight a dragon that has come back to destroy Heorot because of the missing gold piece. The film suggests that this dragon is Grendel's mother, who wants a new intimate relationship with Beowulf. Beowulf and Grendel's mother, the Dragon, end up both dead in the poem and film. Beowulf and Grendel's mother end up dead together at the end of the film. Although Beowulf ended the chaos in his kingdom he died as a fake hero to all the Danes and Geats. The theme the film ends with shows a major difference between the original poem. Beowulf only showed heroic actions in the film and no heroic trust or honesty with everyone in his kingdom.
The film displays Beowulf's heroism as a problem rather than a solution. The film does follow the same storyline as the poem but they have different themes for courage. The film shows Beowulf as a dishonest leader and gives many viewers the impression that he isn't a true hero to his kingdom but actually the problem. While both the film and poem have a very similar storyline, the small acts Beowulf portrays gives the film and poem two totally different themes.
Beowulf. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Paramount, 2007. Film.
Beowulf. Trans. R M. Liuzza. Toronto: Broadview, 2000. Print.