I guess the most interesting element of the film for me was the portrayal of Grendel's mother played by Angelina Jolie. The Grendel character was for me pretty much as I pictured the "mearcastapa" in the poem - having him speak Anglo-Saxon was a master stroke I thought. There were a couple of times that he reminded me of one of those giants from a Maurice Sendak story - but overall ok. What kept niggling at me throughout the film was were is the textual justification for having Grendel's mother look like Angelina Jolie (with a tail of course)
She''s always been an interesting character to me - doesn't even have a name and certainly her son gets a lot more of the action and lines in the poem. She takes her revenge on the murder of her son, smash and grab (Aeschere's head) and then heads back where (and now we get into that weird space the movie created of are we being told what really happened?) Beowulf dispatches her with a mighty sword.
ides, aglaec-wif, yrmthe gemunde
se the waeter-egesan wunian scolde
cealde streamas, siththan Cain wearth
to ecg-banan angan brother
a monster of a woman (or a woman warrior)
called to mind her misery
he (not she) who was doomed to dwell in the fearsome water - the cold streams
since that time when Cain do slay his own brother..."
The words that are of most interest to me is "ides, aglaec-wif" which seems to have two different meetings
- Klaeber translates it as "awesome assailant in woman's form"
- CL Wren's edition (1953) "a monster of a woman"
- n the Beowulf Student Edition edited by George Jack (Oxford, 1994) "ides" is translated as woman and "aglaecwif" as "female warrior