Monday, November 19, 2007

Beowulf and Tolkien

Given my track record with films made out of movies that I enjoy, it's perhaps not surprising that I am very, very dubious about this new "Beowulf" film. I mean, they cast Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother. And apparently she has no clothes on. Something tells me they're not too worried about staying true to the text, or even the spirit of the text. And I wonder if they'll even include the later parts of the story, you know when Beowulf fights the dragon. This is a pity because I, along with some other important people like J.R.R. Tolkien, see that part as pretty central to the story as a whole.

There's also this strange mis-conception going around the internet that Beowulf inspired The Lord of the Rings. Well, of course it did, there's no getting around it. It's part of the "leaf-mould" that Tolkien talks about in a few places. But the whole point of the leaf-mould is that it cannot be reduced to any one tree. It combines and disintegrates and becomes something different, a rich compost. So to say baldly that Beowulf was the inspiration for LotR is ignoring the complexities of any author's inspirational process and especially Tolkien's.

Read the poem, ignore the movie.


DebD said...

I'm with you.

I've been rather outspoken in the family about my distaste for the LOTR movies.

I've read bits and pieces of Beowulf and really liked it. Then I rented that monstrosity they made about 2-3 years ago with Gerard Butler. It could have been so good because it looked great, but it was oh so disappointing. I don't hold any positive expectations for this next one.

I'm not even going to get going about the new Miss Marple.

Ruth said...

Good advice! It is hard to improve upon a good piece of literature.

MaureenE said...

Deb, I complete agree about Miss Marple. I don't know why that series is even being made since the one with Joan Hickson was, in my opinion, so well done. I sort of agree about Lord of the Rings. There were certainly things that they cut that I wanted in and things that they added that I wanted out. On the other hand, some of their additions weren't bad--I liked a lot of the Gandalf/Pippin interaction in Gondor, for instance--although of course the book is always going to be better.

Ruth, it is indeed hard to improve upon a good piece of literature, although some people seem determined to try! (Cough the 2005 Pride and Prejudice cough)