Follow TV Tropes


Film / Beowulf & Grendel

Go To

Unferth: It don't brag of wrestling with it. Nor of being able to kill it. The troll broke down these doors with 20 danish warriors sleeping inside. What gives 13 geats better hope?
Beowulf: We won't be sleeping.

Beowulf and Grendel is a 2005 Icelandic-Canadian Viking film directed by Sturla Gunnarsson that retells the story of Beowulf in a somewhat revisionist manner. Despite this, the film is one of the more faithful film adaptations and attempts to be somewhat accurate in costuming to the 6th century.

In the film, Grendel (Ingvar Sigurdsson) is on a campaign of vengence against King Hrothgar (Stellan Skarsgård) who killed his father. Word gets to the geatish warrior Beowulf (Gerard Butler) who decides to come to the aid to the Danes. A case of a notoriously Troubled Production which was documented in the hilarious documentary Wrath Of Gods.


Beowulf and Grendel provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Grendel wants vengeance for his father's death in this film, as opposed to murdering some noisy neighbours.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Hrothgar and his Danish warriors are at fault for Grendel's rampage in this version, since they killed his father simply for "crossing their path".
  • Ambiguously Human: Grendel seems somewhat human especially compared to the sea-hag but is consistently called a troll. He seems more like a hybrid between homo sapiens and neanderthal, which is possible considering he fathered a child with Selma.
  • An Arm and a Leg: It's a Foregone Conclusion, but Grendel loses an arm. Instead of getting his arm torn off by Beowulf through sheer strength, he cuts it off himself to escape, after Beowulf and his men manage to ensnare and hoist him up on a rope.
  • Advertisement:
  • Artistic Licence - Geography: The film takes place in Denmark and even puts out a map to show the location, but the film is shot clearly in Iceland. For one, there isn't a single tree in the entire movie, and plenty of mountains and volcanic rocks.
  • Artistic Licence – History / Anachronism Stew: Through broadly accurate to the period, there are some glaring errors like the completely made up leather armor worn over the accurately realised chainmail. We also have Hrothgar who is meant to be a mighty danish king, but lives in ragged hall in a wasteland as opposed to a 50 meter wide hall in the lushest parts of Denmark like the danish kings that inspired the legend.
    • There is also an Irish priest converting Danes in the 6th century. While not impossible it's unlikely. Any Irish priest would probably be busy trying to convert the scores of Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians that had invaded recently.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Grendel does not kill Hrothgar because he spared him as a child, but goes out of his way to make Hrothgar's life a living hell.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The film only adapts the Grendel and Grendel's mother episodes, but leaves it open for Beowulf to have his other adventures.
  • Decapitation Presentation: As a child Grendel is too weak to move his father's massive body so he resorts to cut off his head and hide it in a cave. Maybe. He later beheads plenty of Danes and takes their heads to his cave, as does the sea-hag.
  • Demythification:
    • This film may be the adaptation of Beowulf that aims the most to set it in the 6th century when the historical Hrothgar is believed to have lived, rather than in the Viking Age or generic Medieval Fantasy. If you look past the fact that it's filmed in Iceland with no attempt to make it look like Denmark, and the sea-hag is real.
    • Grendel is the last troll - trolls being some kind of caveman. Sunlight doesn't turn them into stone, and despite one of Beowulf's man's worries, don't grow cut limbs or heads back.
    • Beowulf doesn't rip Grendel's arm out with his own strength, he traps it and Grendel cuts it to free himself.
  • It's Personal: Unlike in the original source, every time Grendel attacks is in response to being wronged first.
    • Grendel attacks Hrothgar's hall in vengeance for Hrothgar's men killing his father.
    • Grendel ignores a mentally challenged Dane around his lair. But kills him after he leads the Geats to it.
    • Grendel searchs for the one warrior among Beowulf's men who destroyed his father's skull, and leaves as soon as he kills him.
  • Last of His Kind: Grendel is the last troll. Though he left a half-troll son behind.
  • Life or Limb Decision: Grendel cuts his own arm at the shoulder to escape Beowulf, but dies from his injury shortly after.
  • Like a Son to Me: Beowulf to Hrothgar. Hrothgar doesn't seem to have real sons in this version.
  • Mama Bear: Grendel's mother, as usual. However, here, she's also a Grandma Bear, as she fights Beowulf to protect her grandson, Grendel's offspring with Selma.
  • Magic Realism: Most of the events in the film are quite grounded and there is not really anything supernatural about Grendel. But the sea-hag is 100% real.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: With the exception of Eddie Marsan, all the actor's speak with their natural accents be they Scottish, Canadian or Icelandic. Skarsgård speaks in a broad American accent, but that's just the way he speaks english.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Grendel doesn't mean bad. He is just a Neanderthal-esque caveman with differen morals to the Danes... and he is mentally-challenged on top of it.
  • Super Strength: Averted. Grendel is stronger than all the other characters, but not inhumanly.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Unusually, Grendel's father's head is one for him.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The entire dialogue is like this.
  • You Can Talk?: When he meets Grendel, Beowulf is surprised to hear the troll speak words.