Tonight I went to the cinema to see Beowulf. It was the 3D version, so I’m currently suffering from a mild bout of sensory overload. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I thrive on sensory overload.
Beowulf – in case you don’t already know – is veteran genre director Robert Zemeckis
‘ CG blockbuster adaptation of the classic Old English poem. Featuring a screenplay by the mighty Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary and a heavyweight cast of motion-captured semi-synthespians
– including Ray Winstone
, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie – it’s already cleaned up at the US box office and looks set to do the same over here. To the best of my knowledge, big-budget movie adaptations of classic poems are a bit of a rarity; top-grossing
movie adaptations of classic poems, though, are rarer still. I can only imagine that Hollywood scriptwriters are now strip-mining poetry anthologies for inspiration. Personally, I’d like to see Disney Pixar
tackle Philip Larkin’s Sunny Prestatyn
, or Dreamworks
Animation try their hand at at Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus
. But that’s just me.
Of course, not everyone’s going to be happy about this. The other morning, I was listening to a review of the Beowulf film on Radio 4’s Today Programme. A guy who had illustrated an edition of Beowulf and an expert on Anglo-Saxon literature dismissed the film as a shallow, migraine-inducing, CGI wankfest. Actually, that wasn’t the exact phrase they used. This was, after all, Radio 4’s Today Programme. Ever since the Hutton Enquiry they’ve gone to great lengths to avoid phrases like “wankfest“. But that was the gist of it. I believe the Irish poet Tom [“I hated it”] Paulin was talking about it on The Culture Show last night. I can’t imagine he gave it a ringing endorsement, though. I imagine he hated it.
Well – with respect to those learned experts in Old English poetry – they can go and kiss my pert wee Irish arse.