Review of Beowulf
This will be avaialable at my Web Site, under the heading:
Yesterday, I headed to the Mall of Georgia to attend the IMAX theatre version--in 3D--of "Beowulf".
I was conflicted about seeing a poetic piece like "Beowulf" come to life on film, because I feared no amount of dialogue, music, or actors could create the world that we may create--individually, in our own imagnations-- in reading the poetry of "Beowulf", for ourselves.
I was wrong to be conflicted, because an other-world-liness absolutely reigned:
the eerie music, creepy digitizing of human actors, and breathtaking effects created by CGI delivered a film which is at once,iconic.Seeing it at this IMAX Theatre--in 3D-- was nothing short of hallucinatory!
In the first few moments of the film, however, I was irritated by the digitizing of actors--particularly Robin Penn-Wright, who resembles a botox-ed puppet. But be patient.Eventually, you realize these beings may LOOK different from us, but they feel joy, and they suffer from the same fears and losses that we do.
Grendel is suitably frightening, with Anthony Hopkins's King left frightened, but still standing, after a horrific massacre in his "Mead Hall".
The King is asked by John Malkovich's character, if they should perhaps "... pray to that new Roman god, the Christ Jesus?"
He's told no, implying an exhausted loyalty to their own gods.
Word goes out that someone is needed to kill the monster.Enter large ship, tousled by the sea, and Beowulf(Ray Winstone)--- a striking, huge hunk of manliness suitable for a "Playgirl" layout.
The over-the-top qualities of these characters(and they ARE very much CHARACTERS--their "human actor" qualities are left behind, and we receive instead that same other-world-liness)serve to make them more likable somehow, perhaps because they appear less "threatening": their doll-like appearance a simple thing for us to grasp, even as we are swallowed up in this nether-world.
The landscapes seem to echo the characters' feelings---isolation, alienation, and fear. Fear rules in this land.
Indeed, the landscapes become actual "characters" in this film-- stark mountains, icy gray clouds, crumbling towers and cliffs---and later--the rain of fire and ash that we see reverberating throughout the film, all feel like a warning.
A foreshadowing of something we humans will create, much like this filmed world--its' village, its' country, its' kingdom. But deadlier.
When Beowulf eventually becomes the King--leader of the land, he ponders what being victorious, may mean. When commenting on the brutality which his own men use against their enemies, Beowulf says "We have become the monsters.There are no heroes anymore."
Those two sentences brought tears to my eyes.Because there is a truth in this fake world-- this created, digitized scary place of monsters like Grendel, and Dragons.
Places that nurture an avenging mother(Grendel's mother played by the lushly-full-bodied Angelina Jolie)even as that mother trades in the lust of men--for both sex and power--for her own infamy.
Towards the end of the film we hear repeatedly "The sins of the fathers.The sins of the fathers."
That, too, echoes with meaning in our post 9-11 world, in the consciousness of our country(if we still HAVE a conscience)
And the truth?
It is something like this:
There is no one to save us, no "Beowulf" ready to charge, sword in hand, to protect us from what lies in front of us. We have become the monster at the door.It is us.
So, tomorrow I'm scheduled for a trip around 8:00 A.M. to the training grounds of what used to be called the "School of the Americas". It's where our military leaders train other countries' armies to brutalize their enemies, and in some cases, their own people.
There'll be a Peace Vigil, and a protest, and Sister Helen Prejean will, as always, speak.
I'll be there, thinking about what TRUTH means.
Peace, kids, Peace.