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Beowulf & Grendel

Beowulf & GrendelBeowulf & GrendelBeowulf & GrendelBeowulf & GrendelBeowulf & GrendelBeowulf & Grendel


The blood-soaked tale of a Norse warrior's battle against the great and murderous troll, Grendel…

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 6.0/10 (10,079 voted)

Critic's Score: 53/100

Sturla Gunnarsson

Stars: Hringur Ingvarsson, Spencer Wilding, Stellan Skarsgård

The blood-soaked tale of a Norse warrior's battle against the great and murderous troll, Grendel. Heads will roll. 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…

Writers: Andrew Rai Berzins, Anonymous


Hringur Ingvarsson

Young Grendel

Spencer Wilding

Grendel's Father

Stellan Skarsgård


Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson


(as Ingvar E. Sigurdsson)

Gunnar Eyjólfsson


Gerard Butler


Philip Whitchurch


Ronan Vibert


Rory McCann


Tony Curran


Martin Delaney


Mark Lewis

King Hygelac

Elva Ósk Ólafsdóttir

Sea Hag

Ólafur Darri Ólafsson


Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir


(as Steinunn Ólína Thorsteinsdóttir)

Beneath The Legend Lies The Tale.


Official Website:
Official site |

Release Date: 9 March 2006

Filming Locations: Iceland

Opening Weekend: $4,360
(18 June 2006)
(1 Screen)

Gross: $66,851
(13 August 2006)

Technical Specs


(Toronto International Film Festival)


Revealing mistakes:
At the beginning, when Grendel's father is running with his son in his arms, it is clearly a dummy.


King Hrothgar:
You ever worry about that? Heaven?

I'm thinking I'll likely go where I'm sent.

User Review

From Sheepskin to Celluloid

Rating: 10/10

Breath-taking scenery, strong performances and an unexpected message
come together in Sturla Gunnarsson's Beowulf & Grendel. Forget the
dusty, inaccessible saga that may have been forced upon you in High
School or as a College Freshman in English Lit! New life is breathed
into Beowulf, the oldest text of recorded English, first set to
sheepskin in 1000 A.D. after 500 years of survival through oral
tradition. The acclaimed Canadian director of Rare Birds stays true to
the bones of what undoubtedly started as a campfire story of a battle
between Man and Monster without resorting to CGI or other special
effects. Instead, he relies on the talents of an impressive
international cast and an intelligent screenplay against the backdrop
of a stunningly primal Icelandic landscape upon which no human had set
foot in 800 years. You won't need Cliffs Notes to understand this
examination of who and what defines "Other-ness" and how it is treated.
The knee-jerk fear factor response is as prevalent today as it was in
the early Viking slice-of-life portrayed.

Beowulf & Grendel owes as much to John Gardner's Grendel as it does to
the Beowulf epic. The roles of Hero and Monster do not so much embody
intrinsic Good and Evil as reflect qualities attributed to their
assigned archetypes. How and why we assign those roles is at the heart
of the first-ever serious adaptation of the anonymous poem. The movie
systematically leads us through a labyrinth of History, Cultures, the
psycho-social reaction to Outsiders and the unfortunate results of
those actions to the inescapable conclusion that we are not so
different from one another. The ensuing Logic would then dictate that
War is merely a lazy solution to a problem better addressed by
examining our own psyches.

Beowulf is portrayed with astonishing depth by the Scottish actor,
Gerard Butler, who is accumulating an impressive array of credits from
Attila (the highest-rated U.S. mini-series) to Phantom of the Opera
(the lavish 2005 Musical) to Dear Frankie (the award-winning
independent Scottish film), to name a few. As always, he throws himself
whole-heartedly, thoughtfully, and more important, believably, into the
role of Hero, which in less-capable hands might be one-dimensional.
Even the screenwriter, Andrew Berzins, was both surprised and impressed
by the levels to which Mr. Butler plumbed the character "all in his
facial expressions." Rising above his mastery of brooding good looks
through tangled locks of hair, he manages to have us look through his
eyes, rather than at his eyes – no mean feat for someone who is
undeniably easy on the eyes! Beowulf emerges as the antithesis of the
later Danish Prince, Hamlet, who is so introspective that he is
paralyzed into inaction. In contrast, Beowulf willingly accepts the
yoke of the traditional Hero and initially and immediately acts without
thinking. He recognizes his Destiny in this life and beyond, stating,
"I'll go where I'm sent!" He does not, however, stop there. Delving
into the reasons behind his mission, he becomes a relentless, if
uneasy, historical detective, needing to unearth the cause of the
troll/monster Grendel's savagery.

The Hero's journey, punctuated by pre-destined acts of violence, is one
in which we participate and evolve along with Beowulf, with the
assistance of the witch, Selma (appropriately ambiguously played by the
popular Canadian actress, Sarah Polley). Although she and Beowulf do
pair off at one point, theirs is not really a romantic connection. She
serves as a sort of conduit between Beowulf and Grendel, leveling the
playing field between them.

Grendel is splendidly brought to heartbreaking life by Iceland's
biggest Star, Ingvar Sigurdsson. Interestingly, his 4-year-old son
makes a very credible acting debut as the young Grendel, orphaned in no
uncertain terms at the start of the movie and laying the foundation for
the carnage to come. Harking more to Gardner's Grendel than the
unremittingly bloodthirsty troll of the original poem, Mr. Sigurdsson
manages to express both the innocence and tragedy of Grendel with
gusto, exploring his un-human characteristics without judgment. It is a
tribute to his talent that rather than being horrified by a scene in
which we see Grendel bowling with victims' severed heads, we identify
with the spirit of pure Joy breaking through a monster's lonely

Providing a context for the Hero/Monster mythos is a superb cast of
supporting characters. Stellan Skarsgard is the alcoholic Danish king
Hrothgar, not only unwilling to accept responsibility for the scourge
of Grendel, but not even wanting to consider "why a f***ing troll does
what a f***ing troll does." Eddie Marsden plays the
foaming-at-the-mouth crazed Irish Catholic priest, Brendan, heralding
the advent of Christianity and the desire of a people to unburden
themselves of any and all accountability for their actions. And Ronan
Vibert embodies the equivalent of modern day mass media as the Bard,
Thorkel, through whom the saga is transformed (over Beowulf's
objections) into a revisionist history which does not bear close
examination. As Martin Delaney notes as the young warrior, Thorfinn,
what we are left with are "tales of sh*t." The old Beowulf is not gone.
The tone of the original oral tradition is maintained by Berzins'
strict adherence to Anglo-Saxon and Norse root words and an ongoing
thread of bawdy humor against a relentless musical score rife with
tribal drums. The comic relief serves, as in Shakespeare's tragedies,
to lighten and make palatable the raw impact of some harsh realities
revealed. But a new Beowulf & Grendel rises from the ashes. This blood
and guts epic, with its undeniably spiritual undercurrent, balances
swordplay with word play, and the audience is left to draw their own
conclusions in the bloody aftermath. The tag line, "Heads will roll!"
refers not only to the blood-soaked battle scenes, but to the thought
processes set in motion that will leave you re-evaluating concepts of
and motives behind Love, Loyalty, and War long after you leave the