Monday, August 20, 2007

E tu, Beowulf.

First you show up in the 2005 film Beowulf and Grendel starring Gerard Butler as Beowulf and Sarah Polley as ‘Selma.’ ‘Selma,’ I soon learn, is a ‘sensual witch’ with whom Beowulf develops a rather complex relationship. Not too complex, though, for some old-fashioned getting it on. Now you are tormenting me with the upcoming Robert Zemeckis film starring Angelina Jolie as naked. Er, I mean, as Grendel’s dam of course. Er, I mean as Grendel’s super-sultry ur-accent kind of dam. And by naked, I also mean to imply a little fifth century Beowulf/dam shagging. Not that there’s anything remotely wrong about shagging or getting it on, I just don’t remember that part in the book.

I admit you still pique my interest vaguely by promising this most recent version is the story “as never been told before.” (What, are you going to tell me Grendel is your son or something? Doesn’t that seem like reaching?) However, I can only surmise that the Beowulf marketing team means “as never been told before” in the same way that some flimsy cardboard display at the AMC alerted me to the fact that King Arthur was “the untold true story that inspired the legend.” (To this cineaste, the story will remain forever untold, because I fell asleep in the theater.)

But really. I ask you. Who the f*ck is Selma? You’ve raised some serious questions, here, Beowulf, as you run amok through your own pages.

To be honest, you caused me to doubt myself. My first reaction to reading about Selma on the DVD box for Beowulf and Grendel was to feel stupid for obviously missing a huge chunk of the poem. Sort of like I usually miss the poem within a poem about Hengest’s sister or whoever. (I try to pay attention!) Then I thought I had perhaps read an “edited” version back in my all-girls’ Catholic high school because Sister Mary Patrick Francis Brian wanted to preserve my sexual purity. Of course, I had already read the Bible, so it was too late for that. The scholarly thing to do would have been to dutifully pour over the poem again. In what I think you will agree was a brilliant tactical move, I immediately consulted Wikipedia.

I read the plot synopsis. I scoured the list of subtly unpronounceable character names looking for ‘Beowulf Love Interest.’ Or ‘Lust Interest.’ That would explain things too. For all I know, you’re not really looking for something long term right now. But as it turns out, Sister Mary Patrick Francis Brian did not pull any fifth century wool over my eyes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure a warrior of your prowess gets laid a lot by all sorts of women and mythical beasts with subtly unpronounceable names, but it’s just not in the book. I never expected this slick attitude from you. I always thought of you as reliable and maybe even a little bit stodgy.

While I have your attention, I think I had better go ahead and bring up that 1999 film Beowulf set in the future and starring Christopher Lambert. (Incidentally, Christopher Lambert enjoys the distinction of having a key role in the only movie I haven't been able to watch all the way through. It is called Druids and somehow has made the leap from VHS to DVD even though it is so bad it's not even so bad it's good.) Of course the burning question on my mind here is whether or not you will reveal your deep, dark secret to Kyra (daughter to King Hrothgar) and accept the love she offers you. I don’t know the answer yet, but I have you coming next on my Netflix queue, so we will be able to exchange notes shortly. Please stop stabbing me now.

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