Western Animation / Beowulf (2007)

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/beowulf-poster.jpg
HE IS BEOWULF! And his sword hurts!

I am ripper! Tearer! Slasher! Gouger!
I am the teeth in the darkness, the talons in the night.
Mine is STRENGTH... and LUST... and POWER!
I! AM! BEOWULF!

Beowulf is the 2007 film written by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Ray Winstone.

It's a Motion Capture 3-D Movie adaptation of the epic Beowulf. The premise is an External Retcon: the story of Beowulf as we know grew in the telling (with a bit of help from Beowulf himself), and the "true" events are somewhat different — and, in a couple of key sequences where there were no witnesses and the story relies on the hero's word alone, very different.

A novelization of the film was also written by Caitlin Kiernan.


Beowulf provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Played with. Grendel's mother seems quite harsh towards him and he fears her almost as much as he loves her, but she is quite right in her belief that, if Grendel disobeys her by disturbing humans, they will come and try to kill them (or at least him).
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Grendel's mother is poorly described in the poem, but is traditionally considered some ugly kind or ogress or witch. In this film she has two forms: one is a sexy siren played by Angelina Jolie, and the other is a draconic but still rather cute monster.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The film expands on several aspects of the poem, like the role of the monsters or the characters's personal lives, while the novelization expands on the film itself.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Grendel's mother is described as "flaxen-haired" in the novelization instead of the brunette she was in the film.
  • Adaptational Modesty: The dragon in human form is described as dressed in a strapwork harness of curled leather in the novelization, but in the film he never wears any clothing.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Both in the poem and film, the dragon only attacks Heorot after the drinking horn is stolen, which in the film is interpreted as a breaking of their pact. However, the novelization the dragon implies he left deliberately the horn to be found in order to invoke the situation and have an excuse to kill Beowulf. He also states he isn't acting on behalf of his mother, but because he hates Beowulf for giving him a life as a Child of Two Worlds unable to fit in none, making him much more vicious than the relatively reactive dragon from the poem and the film.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In the original poem, the dragon was a separate threat from Grendel and his mother. Here, the dragon is reworked into the plot by being the offspring of Beowulf and Grendel's mother.
  • All Trolls Are Different: The novelization mentions trolls, especially when comparing Grendel with them, but it's stated he is not one of them and his mother even gets angry at the insinuation.
  • Ambiguous Ending: At the end of the film, Grendel's mother looks at Wiglaf seductively, likely enticing him to give her a son like Hrothgar and start the cycle again. Depending of how do you interpret Wiglaf's expression, he might be accepting her offer, pondering about the tragedy, or expressing a subtle rage towards her. The novelization has him doing the three things before refusing, although it shows Grendel's mother smiling at the thought she might get her goal sooner or later.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Beowulf claims to have killed nine sea serpents in his swimming race, while Wiglaf recalls he said only three the last time. Assuming the onscreen battle is what really transpired (and it might be, as it shows a moment of the fight he notably omitted from the tale - the mermaid), he actually slain seven if every eye-shot was a kill, but given that the theme of the movie is precisely that stories of heroism are often untrue, you never know. Averted in the novelization, where he slays three and it is the number he says to Unferth.
    • Why the horn glows in the darkness is not addressed in the film, implying that it is magical and has that property, or maybe because it reacted to the presence Grendel's mother. Averted in the novelization, which has Beowulf realizing it was actually a magic trick done by Grendel's mother herself to guide him to her through the cave.
  • Anachronism Stew: The movie features Christianity becoming established in Denmark in the 6th century (actually happened in the 10th) and has references to Vinland, Iceland, Orkney and Norway centuries before they were established or became relevant to the Danes.
  • Animal Motifs: Beowulf uses a wolf as his sigil (and is called a wolf by Grendel's mother) and the kings use a dragon.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: The dragon towards Beowulf. This isn't the first time something like this has happened: it turns out that Grendel is Hrothgar's son, and it's heavily implied that the anterior dragon was the old king's son as well.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When Beowulf fights Grendel when Grendel attacks the mead hall the second time, Beowulf rips Grendel's arm off by trapping Grendel in the doorway and slamming the door on it. At the end, Beowulf amputates his own left arm so he can rip out the dragon's heart with his right hand. In Grendel's case, the arm is later seen above the mead hall's door.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • In real life, it would be impossible for a beast of the dragon's size to have such a small heart due to the high pumping strength he would need to pump all his blood through his body. Also, a proportionally-sized heart would be attached to his organism by tons of flesh and thus it would be almost impossible to pull out manually (similarly, a correct heart would be probably located deep into the ribcage and not in the center of the neck, making it much less reachable through his throat hole). These biological oddities are roughtly justified, however, because he is a supernatural creature whose dragon form is implied to be a magic work.
    • The sea serpents are apparently reptilian predators, yet they have a single, large and very human-like eye. Without mentioning the eye number issue, an eyeball that large and exposed is an evolutionary nuisance, especially in a sea creature: it would hinder their swimming ability and at the same time would make an incredibly easy target to any hunting opponent. Also, the creatures would have to be Made of Plasticine for man to be able to bore a tunnel through their palate using just a sword.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In the original poem, Wiglaf only joins Beowulf at the end when he fights the dragon. Here, he's Beowulf's best friend and sidekick since the beginning. This change avoids an Adaptation Induced Plothole because Wiglaf doesn't kill the dragon in the movie, unlike in the poem, yet he succeeds Beowulf as king in both.
    • The escaped slave that steals the dragon horn (a random golden cup in the poem) and brings the dragon's wrath is just a random slave in the poem that never appears again. In the movie, the slave belongs to Unferth, and we see him several times before and after he steals the dragon horn.
    • Wealthow is greatly expanded from the original source where she was only Hrothgar's queen and the thanes's hostess. In this version she is an unhappy wife and queen, is attracted to Beowulf, and marries him after Hrothgar's death. As a result, she still has a role in the final act of the story, unlike in the poem where she stayed in Denmark while Beowulf returned to Geatland.
    • Unferth only has one line in the original poem, and like Wealthow, he is absent after Beowulf returns to Geatland. In the movie, he both relays the news of the horn's theft and the dragon's attack and motives. Especially ironic is his status as a token Christian in Hrothgar's court and the presumed responsible of the kingdom's conversion to Christianity during Beowulf's reign while Beowulf himself remains a Pagan: in the poem, Beowulf was the Christian (although it's speculated that this was an addition to an original, all-Pagan version) and Unferth was a thyle, one of whose proposed translations is a priest of Odin.
  • The Atoner: Beowulf becomes this towards the end, when he is unwilling to just sit back to let some other hero clean up his mess (and start the whole thing over again). He seems well aware that he's likely to pay for his past with his life.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • Beowulf first kills sea serpents by stabbing them in their large eye.
    • He later notices Grendel's reaction to sounds and his large exposed eardrum, and smashes it bloody with his fist to take most of the fight out of him.
    • Finally, he reaches through a chink in the dragon's armor and pulls out its heart. Now that is badass. He knows this because of a speech from Hrothgar about dragon-slaying.
  • Author Appeal: The high heels of Grendel's mother were added by director Robert Zemeckis, according to Gaiman and Avary, although Gaiman acknowledged it was a nice touch as several mythological female demons have unnatural feet.
  • Badass Boast: Beowulf's quote at the top of the page.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • In his naked fight against Grendel, Beowulf seems to have this if you slow down the film, as there are parts where his genitals would be visible but aren't. Another example, probably in-universe, is Grendel's Mother in human form, who lacks nipples and genitalia (although they might be there under the liquid gold).
    • In-universe example with Grendel, whose lack of genitals is pointed several times during his fight with the Geats.
  • Bawdy Song: The Geats singing songs of this sort. They also do this at Beowulf's request to attract Grendel, and it works.
  • Be All My Sins Remembered:
    • Beowulf instructs this "Keep a memory of me, not as a king or a hero; but as a man: fallible and flawed." However after he dies, Wiglaf and Wealthow both intend to have him remembered as a great hero.
    • Beowulf also tries to confess his sins to Wiglaf a few times, but Wiglaf won't have any of it insisting that Beowulf is a hero, and that is all he needs to know.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The old Beowulf complains that being king was not like what he imagined when he was young.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Grendel and his mother speak Old English, the language of the original poem.
  • Black Speech: Grendel can only speak Old English. The Spanish dub changes it to regular Spanish splashed with Old English expressions.
  • Bloody Murder: In the novelization, instead of magically evading Beowulf's strike and then melting his sword, Grendel's mother does a Barehanded Blade Block and the blood of her wound corrodes the blade instead.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: Happens when Beowulf clings himself to Grendel's back.
  • Body Horror: Grendel has patches of golden skin, but otherwise shed much of it and parts of the inside of his body are visible. His skull and body are also hideously malformed. And he has no cock.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Beowulf has this before he discovers the corpses of the guards hanging from the rafters of the castle.
  • Catch-Phrase: "I am Beowulf," and variations upon "I'm here to kill your monster."
  • Censor Steam: Beowulf fought the monster Grendel unarmed and completely naked. When smoke (from a barrel overturned into the fire) isn't around, most of the battle consists of Beowulf jumping around like a circus monkey playing "Hide the Sausage."
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Grendel's exposed eardrum, and the royal dragon horn. Beowulf discovers that Grendel's exposed eardrum is his weak point, and punches it repeatedly to get the upper hand on Grendel during their fight. The royal dragon horn is given to Beowulf by Hrothgar for defeating Grendel, and it's taken by Grendel's mother to maintain their deal before it's abandoned decades later.
    • Despite everyone using a "short sleeve" version of mail, when Beowulf fights the dragonhe puts on mail that has a long left sleeve and a short right sleeve. The climax of the fight is only possible because of that one long mail sleeve in the entire movie.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Hrothgar tells Beowulf the only way to kill a dragon is to stab the soft spot in its throat. Beowulf remembers this in the climax and uses it to kill the dragon, severing his own arm in order to rip out its heart. Even though it was his own son.
  • Chekhov's Skill: If Beowulf's claims of killing a tribe of giants in the Orkney Islands are true, the experience gained in the fight was probably the reason of the great skill he shows to fight a similarly giant humanoid like Grendel.
  • Combat Parkour: Beowulf defeats Grendel by using his mobility, agility and knowledge of the environment to defeat Grendel in the mead hall.
  • Compressed Adaptation: In the original poem, Beowulf travels to Denmark to fight Grendel and his mother, returns to Geatland, wins a massive battle against the Swedes, becomes king of the Geats, and fights the dragon years later. In the movie, Beowulf becomes king of Denmark after fighting Grendel and his mother, and fights the dragon there years later. The battle against the Swedes in Beowulf's youth is replaced by a battle against the Frisians in his old age.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Grendel inflicts a few of these. He impales a thane on a candelabra, tears another in half, and bites off Hondshew's head.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Grendel's mother and the mermaid In the novel of the movie, they're one and the same, but in the movie, they're two different entities. Still, it's notable that the dragon's tail is identical to the mermaid's.
  • Circling Monologue: Grendel's mother does this to the titular hero. She promises the trifecta of Sex, Money, and Power, strumming every chord of this flawed hero's heart and pride as she circles him.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Hrothgar killed a dragon (implied to also be descendant of Grendel's Mother), and then went to fight Grendel's Mother. She seduced him and gave birth to Grendel who then plagued the lands. Beowulf killed Grendel, his mother killed Beowulf's men. He went to kill her, but was also seduced by her and their child became a dragon, who also ravages the land. Beowulf even states that he won't send someone else to kill the dragon, as that will simply start the cycle all over again. Beowulf kills the dragon, but dies in the process. The film ends with Grendel's Mother beckoning to Wiglaf, so it's unclear whether or not the cycle ends.
  • Cyclops: The sea snakes have a single eye in the center of their heads.
  • Dark Age Europe: "The time of heroes is dead, the Christ-God has killed it, leaving nothing but weeping martyrs and fear and shame".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wiglaf, as well as Unferth.
  • Deal with the Devil: Hrothgar is implied to have entered into one with Grendel's mother when he fathered Grendel. Beowulf does so when he confronts her in her lair, giving her a son and the horn in exchange for peace and prosperity. This results in him fathering the dragon and her giving the horn back as subtext for the dragon to attack Herot.
  • Death by Adaptation: Hrothgar was never Driven to Suicide in the original poem.
  • Death Seeker: King Beowulf throws away his sword, rips off his armor and dares a Fresian raider to earn his place in history by planting an axe in his chest. He can't do it.
    "You know why you couldn't kill me my friend? Because I died many years ago."
  • Death of the Old Gods: Beowulf lamenting than his people have abandoned the old gods for the Christ-God and weeping martyrs.
  • Devil, but No God: While we are never revealed if Grendel and his kin are literal demons, they are the only supernatural creatures in the setting: the humans are left to face them with just their iron swords and the strength of their arms (a witch capable to do real magic appears in the novelization, but she's clearly not in their league). Better exemplified by Hrothgar when he says the gods won't do for them what they won't do by themselves.
  • Digital Head Swap: After a fashion. The whole thing was filmed using motion capture, and Ray Winstone claimed they put his head on his eighteen-year-old body. The same sort of thing was done with Angelina Jolie, who was pregnant at the time.
  • Disney Villain Death: Played with. First, it happens to both the dragon and Beowulf. After ripping out the dragon's heart they both fall hundreds of feet to the beach below. Also Beowulf survives long enough to speak his dying words to Wiglaf. Third, Beowulf had cut off his arm and lost a lot of blood beforehand which likely hastened his death.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There's unsubtle phallic symbolism in how Beowulf's erect sword melts under the caress of Grendel's mother.
  • The Door Slams You: Beowulf defeats Grendel this way. He traps Grendel in the doorway of the mead hall with a chain around his (Grendel's) wrist, and when Beowulf slams the door shut, the impact rips Grendel's arm off.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: In the official videogame of the film, Grendel's mother attacks by summoning several translucent clones of herself called dísirs who sexually attack Beowulf.
  • Downer Ending: If we interpret the ending as Wiglaf falling for the offer of Grendel's mother and starting again the Cycle of Revenge with more monsters likely coming to plague the land.
  • Draconic Humanoid: Grendel's mother may look like a golden Angelina Jolie to observers, but whenever she is seen in reflection, it becomes clear her true form is that of a dragon-like humanoid with golden scales, and what appears to be a prehensile plait is actually a reptilian tail.
  • Dream Weaver: Grendel's mother can weave nightmares, which she does to warn Beowulf of her rage.
  • Driven to Suicide: Hrothgar, though other than allowing Beowulf to succeed to the throne, it is never made explicit why. The implication is that his guilt over being the father of Grendel and the knowledge that Beowulf has begun the cycle again drives him to it.
  • Dual Wielding: During the battle scene in the later half of the movie, soldiers are seen dual-wielding axes.
  • Dull Surprise: John Malkovich's performance was quite wooden - whether due to being unused to voice-acting or what is unknown, but hearing him "rant" at Beowulf for an insult in a monotonous tone while his character model is fairly animated is off-putting.
  • Epic Fail: Hondshew, in fighting Grendel, attempts to slam his sword into Grendel's head. It works, but the sword gets stuck. Grendel simply pulls it out, throws it away, and bites Hondshew's head off.
  • Establishing Character Moment: One that acts for several aspects of Beowulf's personality. His battle against the sea serpents shows that he is an almost superhumanly powerful warrior, but also that he craves for glory and he doesn't shy away from lying and exaggerating his feats, and finally that while monstruous creatures are nothing for him, beautiful ones are his weak spot.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Grendel loves his mother.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Grendel's mother in turn clearly cares for him.
  • Everyone Can See It: Beowulf and Wealthow fall in Love at First Sight with each other. When Wealthow asks one of the horny wenches if she wants to get in bed with Beowulf, she says that it is not her whom he has the hots for. Hrothgar also notices it right away but he cares very little going as far as "willing" his queen to Beowulf along with his kingdom before he jumps to his death.
  • External Retcon: The film presents the events told in the epic poem as a lie Beowulf told after his encounter with Grendel's mother.
  • The Fair Folk: Grendel's mother and her children. Their race is shown to be powerful, shapeshifting and clearly much older than mankind, and enjoy toying with human men and bringing them to ruin. In the novelization, Hrothgar comments they belong to faerie lore, and a wise woman identifies them outright as the dökkálfar or dark elves of Nordic myth.
  • Fan Disservice: You sure didn't want to see Hrothgar and specially Grendel, naked.
  • Fanservice: There is plenty of slutty wenches in Heorot, but everyone remembers Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans in the setting see monsters as something that must be exterminated, which Grendel's mother comments on.
  • Fatal Flaw: Beowulf has many, but Pride and Lust conspire to bring him down. One is heavily foreshadowed: his weakness for women is obvious in his memory of the mermaid seducing him, and makes his eventual acquiescence to Grendel's mother easy to see coming. And just as Grendel is King Hrothgar's wild indulgence taken to its most horrific extreme, Beowulf's dragon-son is his own youthful arrogance flying out to meet him.
  • Final First Hug: It is revealed the dragon Beowulf fights to the mutual death is actually his own son, by way of the same creature that was mother to Grendel. After the climax of the movie, wherein the dragon has mortally wounded Beowulf, and he has torn out the dragon's heart, they both crash-land on the beach. There, the dragon's form melts away into the waves, revealing a shiny, golden-skin humanoid. It's not quite a hug, but Beowulf looks his son in the eyes and lays a hand on his shoulder before his corpse washes away.
  • Foil: Wealthow is this to Grendel's mother. It's likely for this reason as well that she refuses to give Hrothgar the son he needs.
  • Foreshadowing: Beowulf's story about his encounter with sea monsters has him claim that one of said monsters pulled him underwater, but he instantly killed it in retaliation, thus explaining why he lost the swimming race he was participating in. However, this story reveals his status as an Unreliable Narrator, because that "monster" was in fact a beautiful mermaid, with whom Beowulf slept. This foreshadows how Grendel's mom later seduces him, as well as his attempt to cover up what really happened.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The mother's natural form can be briefly seen in the ceiling, hiding among the treasure, when Beowulf walks into he lair.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Beowulf fights Grendel naked to show off by fighting on equal ground.
  • Gainaxing/Jiggle Physics: The maid, Yrsa, seems to have had quite a lot of care taken to make sure her large tracts of land sway and move realistically. Almost makes you wonder if they used motion capture on those as well.
  • Glamour: The true form of Grendel's Mother is NOT Angelina Jolie with a prehensile braid. She's under a glamour to appear human, and the braid is her real form's tail. She also has a very powerful presence, and with minimal effort is able to seduce a man who had come to her lair to kill her and knew how dangerous she was.
  • God Guise: The novelization states Grendel's mother was worshipped as a pagan goddess by ancient men that "did not hold Odin as the highest among the Aesir", but also that she knew well she was not divine and that only feigned to be so because they wouldn't try to kill her that way.
  • Go for the Eye: Used by Beowulf against the sea serpents, which help by having a single, giant eye in their heads.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Subverted. We only see the shadow as Grendel tears a man in two, but right after that the severed torso flies into plain sight, innards and all.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: Grendel's mom evokes it.
  • Groin Attack: Wiglaf does this to Grendel, by sword. It doesn't work, because Grendel has no reproductive organs.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Grendel. He may be sterile (given his apparent lack of reproductive organs), and though it may just be because he's a monster he gives a good impression of being sickly. He's hideously deformed, has what appears to be a nasty skin condition, and is sometimes heard whimpering as if in pain (though that's probably just because loud noises irritate his super-sensitive ear). The dragon at the end of the film is also a Half-Human Hybrid, born of a mating between Beowulf and Grendel's mother. This is also very much unlike the original poem, where no human ancestry was suggested for Grendel except that he was a distant descendant of Cain, and there was no evidence of the dragon having any trace of humanity.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A thane in the mead hall gets this during Grendel's first rampage. He first hurls an axe into Grendel's thigh, before Grendel grabs him and tears him in half.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: While not villainous, Beowulf is a flawed person and a liar. In an inverted example of Clear My Name, he tries to have Wealthow and Wiglaf correct the lies about him after his death and publicize that he was a normal, flawed man, but they refuse and continue to uphold his heroic tale.
  • Hell on Earth: According to one interpretation by Word of God, the goal of Grendel's mother is to sire another demonkind via humans in order to repopulate the lands, as she and her race were their original dwellers. However, this seems a bit hard to accomplish the way it is shown in the story, as it seems she only seeks to mate with the current king, has one child every time, and only does it if the previous one is killed.
  • The Hero Dies: Like in the original poem, Beowulf dies at the end, but his death here is reworked as a Heroic Sacrifice, Redemption Equals Death, and Heel–Face Door-Slam.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Beowulf and the thanes are very clear that they will kill the monsters or die trying. Both are the only heroic outcomes. Beowulf then pulls a straight version of the trope to defeat the dragon.
  • Hidden Depths: The novelization gives insight to many characters's traits not shown in the film. For instance, it shows Grendel knowing the Norse gods thanks to having been taught by his mother, Wiglaf worrying at the beginning of the story that Beowulf might have legitimately gone a bit off his rocker after so many battles, Beowulf himself believing he might have been cursed by Grendel's blood, Wealthow pondering that dragons and supernatural beings should be left alone instead of exterminated, and the dragon lamenting that he doesn't know his place in the world due to his dual nature and heritage.
  • Honor Before Reason: Beowulf decides to fight Grendel unarmed and unarmored (read: butt-naked).
    Queen Wealtheow: [noticing Beowulf undressing] Lord Beowulf, what are you doing...?
    Beowulf: The creature has no sword and no armor. And I have no weapon capable of slaying a monster. We shall fight as equals, and fate... shall decide.
  • Horny Devils: Grendel's mother, considering she is called a Water Demon.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Grendel and his mother believe so, and later Beowulf himself shares the sentiment, mumbling that, with the monster of the past gone, men like him are the new monsters. In the novelization, Grendel's mother gives her son a lecture about it.
    "They are weak, yes, these men. But still they slay dragons, and they kill trolls, and they make wars and hold the fate of all the world in their small, soft hands, even as you hold those stray bits of shell in yours. [...] They have neither the fiery breath nor the wings of dragons, nor have they the strength of trolls. And they are ever jealous of those things, and fearful. They destroy, Grendel. They despoil. They destroy for glory, and from jealousy and fear, to make the world safe for themselves."
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Two examples.
    Beowulf: I am Beowulf, son of Edgethow.
    Unferth: I am Unferth, son of Ecglaf.
  • Indecisive Deconstruction: The film plays the myth fairly straight for most regards, but adds elements suggesting Unreliable Narrator, all sorts of raunchiness and deviations from the myth that suggest that it is a "true" version that ended up being portrayed more heroically in the myths. However it still has a naked Beowulf backflipping when fighting Grendel and being all beardy and manly and fighting monsters. A lot of arguments come up about whether or not a particular element was meant to be taken seriously.
    • The movie actually makes Beowulf's part in the fight against the dragon more epic than in the poem, by taking it out of the cave and having Beowulf kill the dragon in a Heroic Sacrifice. In the poem, Beowulf died fighting the dragon and the dragon was killed by Wiglaf.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: While many of the actors in the film are animated to look completely different than their real-life appearance (especially Ray Winstone), several actors are accurately depicted by their CG counterparts, namely Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright, John Malkovich and Brendan Gleeson. Even Grendel resembles Crispin Glover under all that deformity.
  • Immune to Bullets: Grendel and the dragon shrug most weapons until Beowulf attacks their weak point. The mother may be inmune to any blade for all we know.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • The dragon gave Unferth a message to relay to Beowulf, then burned Unferth's family alive.
    • Grendel drinking blood from Hondshew's decapitated body and putting himself to sleep by muttering the word "killing", shows that he actually enjoyed what he was doing.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: It looks like Beowulf will be this towards Wealthow. He is this to everyone in the end.
  • Large Ham: Ray Winstone as Beowulf enjoys Chewing the Scenery. He also has No Indoor Voice!
  • Last of His Kind: Hrothgar believes that, her sons gone, Grendel's mother is the last of her race. She believes it too in the novelization.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Beowulf cuts the tendons in his own arm in order to reach the dragon's heart.
  • Living Legend: He plays with this. He actually does some really awesome things, but he's willing to lie to look more awesome than he really is.
  • Lonely at the Top: An older Beowulf grumbles to his mistress that being a king isn't as fun as he supposed when he was young. She coaxes him into conceding that maybe the wenching isn't that bad.
  • Love Triangle: In the second act, the King, the Queen, and the Royal Concubine.
  • The Low Middle Ages: The first two acts are set in Denmark in 507 AD, with the third act being set three or four decades after. However, the plot makes a lot of references to events of the Viking Age, three to four centuries later.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: The Dragon reveals to Beowulf that they are actually father and son. However this happens in a dream before their first encounter.
  • Madness Mantra: Unferth yelling "Sins of the fathers!" after being burnt by dragonfire.
  • Made of Plasticine: Grendel's arm gives out somewhat easily to the door slamming on it, being ripped out clean. However, given his clearly malformed/ill physiology, his flesh might be effectively softer than human flesh when in normal size. It is less justifiable in the dragon, whose bizarrely diminutive heart is pulled off by Beowulf with relative ease.
  • Master of Illusion: Grendel's mother, who can disguise her own appearance. In the novelization, she torments Beowulf with shadows of his fallen thanes.
  • May–December Romance: Beowulf and his "bedwarmer" Ursula after Wealtheow learned that he had a fling with Grendel's mother, she became emotionally estranged from him and gave him the Lysistrata treatment, like with what happened between her and her late first-husband/Beowulf's predecessor Hrothgar, for the same reason.
  • More Than Mind Control: It's easy to guess Grendel's mother used magic to entice Beowulf, a theory supported by the novelization, but the weight of his acceptance of her pact comes clearly from her promises of glory.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Denmark does have a couple of hills in real life (the highest natural point being 122.9 meters, or 403.21 feet, up), but it's nowhere near as mountainous as this film suggests.
  • Mysterious Past: The novelization states Grendel's mother is so old that she barely remembers her own past. She knows she had a mother, but cannot remember her or her own name, and ignores if she ever had a father, suggesting that the cycle of revenge might be older than expected and that her father was a human just like Grendel' and the dragon's.
  • Naked First Impression: Beowulf presents himself to Grendel in the nude, and Grendel's mother comes to Beowulf in a human shape only covered in golden body paint, which clearly helps him to accept her treat.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Beowulf's hidden side. He is attracted to beautiful creatures, which is shown by the mermaid and exploited by Grendel's mother.
  • Nipple and Dimed: This film can show full frontal Jolie and still get a PG-13 rating if they cover her nipples with a bit of gold paint.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Grendel's mother hides from Beowulf in her treasure cave by pretending to be an idol.
  • No Name Given: Neither Grendel's mother or the dragon are named, they're only referred to as 'Grendel's mother' and 'dragon'. While the same is true in the poem, the novelization of the film implies that Grendel's mother has forgotten her own name; it explains the ancient men that worshipped her called her Hertha, Nerthus or Njördr, names of heathen goddesses, but it adds that none of them was her true name. Otherwise, she is just referred as the "merewife", "demon wife" or "aglaeca" (a real term from the poem whose meaning is a headache for modern linguists).
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Grendel is the only of his race that isn't draconic, although his few patches of skin seem to feature golden scales...
  • No-Sell: Beowulf's attempt to strike Grendel's mother with his sword results in his sword hitting the floor of the cave when she vanishes, and she reappears behind him moments later.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Although the Zealanders speak in fake, but at least subtle, Danish accents — Grendel even speaks Old English — the Geats speak in the actors' natural accents, which means that the title character, since he's played by Ray Winstone, is a Cockney ("I'm 'ere to kiw your mhonschtah."), and Wiglaf speaks in Brendon Gleeson's usual Irish accent.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Grendel's mother's true form is only glimpsed in reflections. (And if you are really curious, a figure sculpt was released.) Grendel's mother can be seen in full rather briefly; when Beowulf wanders through her cave, she can be seen among the gold, hanging from the ceiling. However, her skin's color makes it rather easy to miss on initial viewing.
  • Off with His Head!: Hondshew tries to do this to Grendel, but the sword gets stuck in Grendel's scalp. Grendel doesn't take it lying down either: Grendel bites off Hondshew's head and eats it infront of Beowulf.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Geats, save for Beowulf, when Grendel bangs on the door of the mead hall, and then when he bursts into the mead hall.
    • Beowulf gets one when he sees the dragon about to breathe a fireball at him. Wiglaf gets one too when the dragon emerges from the cave moments later.
    Wiglaf: Odin's swifan balls!
  • One-Winged Angel: All of the three shown members of Grendel's race have a human form and a monster form that is typically bigger and scarier. In Grendel's case, both forms are identical and only vary in size, while his mother and brother are humanoids that can turn into draconic creatures.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Similar to the classic European dragon, with two hinder legs and two arms fused with their wings. Only one shows on screen, with another being mentioned and yet another being spoken of in the novelization.
    • The one we see has fins on his tail to help with swimming, and may be fully amphibious. It's unclear if this is standard for dragons in the setting, or if he's part sea serpent due to his mother's aquatic heritage.
  • Our Giants Are Different: Apparently there were a tribe of them in the Orkney Island before Beowulf butchered them. As we never see them on screen, we don't know exactly what he calls a giant, or even if it happened at all.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Different and poorly defined. Grendel, his mother and the dragons are called "demonkind" at least once in the film and several in supporting materials, while in the novelization, she identifies their race as both "dragonkind" and "giants" and is identified herself as a mermaid or sea creature. Apparently, the only known facts about their race is that it is incredibly ancient and that it came from the sea. Otherwise, they are "neither troll nor giant nor dragon-kin, and yet perhaps something of all three, some night race spawned in the first days of creation, when Midgard was still new, and then hunted, driven over uncountable millennia to the brink of oblivion," perhaps even the legendary Jötnar.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Beowulf has to do this in the cave when the dragon breathes fire at him. Partially justified in that he turns and starts running when the dragon inhales.
  • Playing Gertrude: Angelina Jolie plays Grendel's mother, who is supposed to be centuries old. Grendel is played by Crispin Glover, who is older than she is. Although, you know, her character is Really 700 Years Old. And a Shapeshifter.
  • Playing with Fire: Grendel has the power of reanimating fire and turning it white and wild, although it seems to be unintentional on its part.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Grendel's mother scolds him for killing humans. Not because she cares about human lives - she really doesn't - but because humans are fucking dangerous.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: See the page's quote.
  • Prehensile Hair: Grendel's mother has a long braid that can move on its own. It's likely this was the tail of whatever her real form was.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Beowulf: They SAY! You have a MONSTAH here. They SAY! Your lands are CURSED. My name is BEOWULF! I'm here to KILL YOUR MONSTAH!
  • Punctuated Pounding: Beowulf does this when he has Grendel's arm ensnared in a chain and pinned by the door.
    Beowulf: [SMASH!] YOUR BLOODLETTING DAYS! [SMASH!] ARE OVER [SMASH!] DEMON! [SMASH!]
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Wealtheow takes on a motherly role to Ursula. There's nothing to be gained by being unkind to her husband's concubine, especially if she's just some poor kid caught up in Beowulf's grand tragedy, but Wealtheow takes it an extra step, and it pays off later.
  • Red Right Hand: The movie gives Grendel's Mother the power to assume the pleasing form of Angelina Jolie, but she has a prehensile and whip-like ponytail, as well as humorously high-heeled bare feet.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Hrothgar killed a dragon whom he calls Fáfnir. The dragon Fáfnir belongs to The Saga of the Volsungs and was slain by the hero Sigurd.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Unferth does this because he's drunk and unimpressed by Beowulf's boasting and doesn't know any better. Beowulf finds it difficult to argue with a drunk.
  • Say My Name: Beowulf does this. Wealthow also screams Hrothgar's name when the latter jumps to his death.
  • Scaled Up: All three enemies, because they are related and Reptiles Are Abhorrent.
  • Sea Monster: The cyclopean sea serpents, which are described in the novelization as "the ravenous children of great Jörmungand, who holds all Midgard in his coils... The spawn of matings between Loki’s dragon child and all manner of eels and sharks and hideous sea worms".
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The movie poster.
  • Scenery Censor:
    • The titular character fights the monster Grendel completely nude, with his goods blocked from view by his leg, a sword, and a table, among other things. The shadow of his thigh blocks his fun bits at several points. If you slow down the film, and realize there are parts where his genitals would be visible but aren't, it seems like Beowulf is either hung like a Greek statue or a eunuch.
    • Grendel's mother (voice, face and rendered body of Angelina Jolie) is "clothed" in weird gold water... stuff. Though this could be an example of Non-Mammal Mammaries.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: After Beowulf rips the dragon's heart out, it appears beside him in a humanoid form.
  • Shout-Out: To Conan the Destroyer, another film where a loincloth-wearing, headband-sporting, sword-wielding hero has to infiltrate an underwater lair and fight an enemy immune to sword slashes who wants a golden horn.
  • Skyward Scream: IN THE NAME OF ODIN! Wiglaf does this when he enters the mead hall and sees the corpses in the rafters.
  • Smug Snake: Grendel chuckles at Beowulf challenging him in the nude, but is eventually put on the ropes so badly by his naked opponent that he tries to flee.
  • Sour Supporter: Wiglaf. His reactions when Beowulf tries to tell him the truth of his "fight" with Grendel's mother indicate he already suspected something from the start, yet he's not interested in the truth and only wants to follow Beowulf and preserve his legacy.
  • Spare a Messenger: Beowulf tells his men to give the Sole Survivor of a Fresian raiding party a gold piece and send him home to add to his legend.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Grendel's Mother dies in the poem, decapitated by a sword made by giants, but survives in the movie with a heavily implied case of The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Speech Impediment: In the novelization, Olaf, one of Beowulf's thanes, is a stutterer.
  • The Stoic: Wealthow, most of the time, with a bit of Stoic Woobie thrown in.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Thanks to his seaside upbringing, Beowulf is undoubtedly a great diver, possibly to an inhuman degree if he actually made love to the mermaid while underwater all the time.
  • Super Strength: The movie certainly implies that the title character has beyond normal strength and fortitude, though it's still to a much lesser degree than the strength of 30 men in just the grip of his hands.
  • Talking to Plants: A dying Grendel talks to the trees in his way back to the cave in the novelization, and they seem to talk back, shunning him because therewas "some long-ago war with the giants and the dragons, and to them Grendel’s blood stinks of both". He might be simply hallucinating due to the blood loss, though.
  • Telepathy: How Grendel's mother and the dragon communicate in the novelization.
  • This Was His True Form:
    • Grendel's body "shrinks" after having his arm amputated. This continues after his death, until only his still massive head is left.
    • The dragon reveals his human form after his death.
  • Time Abyss: Grendel's Mother; the novelization mentions that her kind — whatever she is — were spawned in the early days of Creation.
  • Tragic Monster: Grendel, as part of the general Alternate Character Interpretation of the plot.
  • Translation Convention: The people here speak modern English, except for Grendel, who does speak Anglo-Saxon.
  • Unrated Edition: Featuring Zemeckis's original NC-17 cut of the film he intended for IMAX theatres. It's an unusual example for two reasons: one, the theatrical release of the film was PG-13 instead of the expected R, presumably for Animation Age Ghetto purposes; secondly, the unrated edition is the exact same length as the theatrical version; no new scenes are added, rather, most shots containing violence or sexual content are just a little bit more so. Content changes include all of the film's blackish blood being turned red, less Scenery Censor for nudity and none at all when it was used for gory moments, certain violent or sexy shots being more close-up and, in one instance, a mead hall attendee who was originally making out with a woman is now all up in her cleavage.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Takes this tack in regards to Beowulf's exploits for which there are no witnesses. Most notably, he didn't exactly "kill" Grendel's Mother. And he did more than "slay sea monsters" during that storm. Though not all of the film's divergences from the standard story can be explained this way.
  • The Vamp: Grendel's mother. While her attractiveness is a big factor on her ability to seduce men, she also uses promises of power and glory to entice them as opposed to only sexual pleasure.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: The beginning of shows a girl sneaking a gold coin down her corset.
  • Viking Funeral: Beowulf gets one at the end.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Grendel comes over as this. He just has hypersensitive hearing and the feasts at the great hall therefore cause him pain. When he starts his rampages, he comes over as a crying child throwing a (very bloody) tantrum.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/Beowulf2007