World literature is often transposed onto screen and these new interpretations of literary works mostly change several features. This study investigates in a qualitative and quantitative analysis the changes which were made to the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf when it was transposed onto screen. After outlining the original poem and its most prominent topics and features (contents, structure, dating, religion, women and the myth of the hero), the same topics and features (plus others) are examined in the Beowulf films. Those are grouped in major, minor and marginal films and each group shows certain common features and tendencies. The major films with focus on contents and the most important characters constitute the central part of this survey. The study gives interesting results with regard to the changes of plot, characters, language and other features. It is, for instance, striking that several films concentrate on the first part of the story and omit the dragon fight completely, strengthen the role of women and consider heroism in a critical way.
The book is diligently researched, has hardly any shortcomings, and will doubtless remain the reference work on Beowulf films for the time being.
medievally speaking (08/2016)