Monday, September 25, 2006

Arbitrating My Hero-Myth on Netflix

I have been working my Netflix queue and the US Postal Service to try to get Beowulf and Grendel as soon as possible after its official release tomorrow. My efforts have paid off -- it now reads as "processing" on the queue. The plot summary on Internet Movie Database reads:
Adapted from the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf, BEOWULF & GRENDEL is a
medieval adventure that tells the blood-soaked tale of a Norse warrior's battle
against the great and murderous troll, Grendel. Heads will roll in this provocative take on the first major work of English literature. Out of allegiance to the King Hrothgar, the much respected Lord of the Danes, Beowulf leads a troop of warriors across the sea to rid a village of the marauding monster. The monster, Grendel, is not a creature of mythic powers, but one of flesh and blood - immense flesh and raging blood, driven by a vengeance from being wronged, while Beowulf, a victorious soldier in his own right, has become increasingly troubled by the hero-myth rising up around his exploits. Beowulf's willingness to kill on behalf of Hrothgar wavers when it becomes clear that the King is more responsible for the troll's rampages than was first apparent. As a soldier, Beowulf is unaccustomed to hesitating. His relationship with the mesmerizing witch, Selma, creates deeper confusion. Swinging his sword at a great, stinking beast is no longer such a simple act. The story is set in barbarous Northern Europe where the reign of the many-gods is giving way to one - the southern invader, Christ. Beowulf is a man caught between sides in this great shift, his simple code transforming and falling apart before his eyes. Building toward an inevitable and terrible battle, this is a tale where vengeance, loyalty and mercy powerfully entwine. A story of blood and beer and sweat, BEOWULF & GRENDEL strips away the mask of the hero-myth, leaving a raw and tangled tale that rings true through the centuries.

While the plot summary on Netflix reads:
In an adventure imbrued with blood and tragedy, the legendary Norseman Beowulf
(Gerard Butler) must command an army across the seas of ancient Northern Europe to conquer the evil troll Grendel. Anticipating his epic crusade against the wrathful monster, the warrior must arbitrate his emanating notoriety and his relationship with the enchanting Selma amid a time of barbaric turmoil and transformation with the emergence of the Christian faith.

He must "arbitrate his emanating notoriety?" Yeesh, put down the thesaurus for a moment. That use of "arbitrate" strikes me as awfully MLA-esque. I suppose I should be happy that Beowulf has finally got himself a girlfriend, but Selma? I'd have thought he could do better.


  1. That was my reaction, too, when I saw the girlfriend's name. "Selma?!?!?" Is that even Old English?

  2. I'll be writing about constructions of masculinity in the film at the national Popular Culture Association conference next spring. To give you a teaser as to my topic, the title may well end up being "Pissing, Shagging and Roaring: Performing masculinity" etc. It's an interesting take on the story (by interesting, of course, I mean peculiar and head-scratchingly odd). Gene's thoughts were that this film portrays Beowulf as a consultant; he doesn't really do anything himself but he does listen to all the members of the organization to facilitate a propitious outcome.