Monday, November 26, 2007

movie review--beowulf

Yesterday I went to the movies, and decided to see 'Beowulf'. I still wonder if it was among my better decisions.

The look of the movie is a kind of reverse of where it seems animation is going. In some movies such as "Final Fantasy", the idea seemed to be to attempt to make the animation as life-like as possible, but with 'Beowulf' the idea seemed to be to give a live-action movie a slight look of animation.

The results were fair. The movie had a kind of other-worldly or fantasy look to it, kind of like can be given to images in programs such as Photoshop if one knows how to do it. The human characters are realistically done, but they look idealized, without many of the marks of normal human features. I would suspect that was the kind of thing the creators were looking for, and the movie takes on a kind of grown-ups fairy-tale appearance, and considering the story, it's not an unrealistic thing to attempt.

For the record, there may be some spoiler material after this. I've tried to keep if pretty vague, but if you don't want any kind of hint as to the movie's contents, you may not want to read after this.

The movie itself is not an easy one to watch, at least for me. The people we are first introduced to are a crude and crass people, but more then that they are debase. It is set in Denmark in the 5th century AD and the civilization had only recently had Christianity introduced to them, and in at least one it is referred to as Rome's religion. It is not easy to say whether the movie is pro-Christianity or anti-, or even if the creators had an opinion this way or that. There were two times when statements that coujld have been considered anti-Christian were made, but then the characters who made them were perhaps not the best of characters, either.

One was the first king of the village, an old man gone to seed. When we first see him, we get the impression that although he is or was a brace and capable warrior, as a person he had some serious character flaws, such as drunkenness and promiscuousness. His remard was that the village didn't need help from gods, even the Roman god Christ, but needed heroes.

The other was Beowulf himself, and in the first half of the movie he is the obvious hero, though it could be wondered at times if he's more bluff then substance. Like the king, he and his men are brave enough, though not necessarily nice. His remark came several years after being made king of the village, and Christianity had begun to take a firmer hold, and his thoughts were that Christianity had ended the time of heroes and now all they had were meek and weak martyrs.

But these two characters also fall in much the same way. Both meet a sort of water-creature or water-demon, and have a son by her, the first being the creature Grendel and the second a dragon-like creature. In both cases there is a sense in which the 'sins of the father' are visited on them, as one character quite strongly hints in the lead-up to the final fight.

One way in which the story could be characterized is at the rise, fall, and redemption of Beowulf. We see him young and strong, then his fall and how it comes to haunt him, and finally a time when he comes to see how the secrets and lies have damaged him.

On the down side for me, is much of the first parts of the movie. The references to womanizing and other things were not things I enjoyed, but while some of it was stuff that probably could have been different, it did have a place in the story.

I don't know if I would recommend it. Much of it would be a matter of personal convictions, and since there are some things in the movie that may not be things one would want to see, let each decide. There are some interesting thoughts in it, though, and while I may not want to see it again for a while, I can't necesarily be against it, either.

1 comment:

patrick said...

Beowulf's animation was all around impressive, though the characters' movement reminded me a lot of Shrek. I appreciate the fact that this movie gives a pseudo-education in ancient literature (never had to read the book as a child)