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FAQ for
Beowulf (1999) More at IMDbPro »

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Beowulf can be found here.

The mysterious mercenary Beowulf (Christopher Lambert) enters a fortress and offers its ruler Hrothgar (Oliver Cotton) learns that his wound has healed quickly. After Beowulf decapitates Grendel's arm and Beowulf and Kyra fall in love, Beowulf reveals to Kyra who he is. Grendel's mother (Layla Roberts) enters the fortress and seeks to avenge Grendel, by killing everyone in the fortress, and Beowulf engages Grendel's mother in mortal combat.

Beowulf is based on an Old English epic poem, author unknown and dated as having been written somewhere around 1000 AD, possibly earlier. The poem was adapted for the movie by screenwriters Mark Leahy and David Chappe. There have since been three more adaptations of the epic poem: Beowulf & Grendel (2005), Beowulf: Prince of the Geats (2007), and the animated Beowulf (2007).

The explanation that Beowulf gives in the movie is that he could sense "the Darkness" and so he came alone to kill Grendel because he "had to." In the poem, however, Beowulf came by ship with about a dozen of his clansmen from the land of the Geats (southern Sweden) because they had heard about Grendel's doings and they wished to help.

A definitive answer is not given in the movie (nor in the poem). A good guess is that Grendel was able to shape change, e.g., into the mist that can occasionally be seen floating in the background. Another possibility is that Grendel was able to turn himself invisible, taking form only when killing.

Granted, all the doors were locked from the inside, so there are only two explanations: (1) he was already in there, or (2) he entered through the same vent that Beowulf used to get inside.

No. Neither did they have wrist watches, plastic body bags, airlocks on the castle doors, rooftop loudspeakers, nor lighters to light torches, as some viewers have reported seeing. A movie's use of modern technologies in medieval settings has been termed Steampunk and has led some viewers to conclude that this version of Beowulf was set in the post-apocalyptic future or some alternative world.

She's a succubus, a female demon who comes to men during their sleep. Succubi are said to make love to a sleeping man in order to take their semen and then use it to create new demons. It's generally accepted by most modern scholars that succubi were historically accepted as an explanation for male nocturnal emissions. In the movie, the succubus turns out to be Grendel's mother.

Everytime Hrothgar would stand against Grendel and challenge him to a fight, Grendel would reply, "Not you." It's not until the end of the movie where it is revealed that Hrothgar is Grendel's father. This development is not part of the poem.

Cutting off Grendel's arm and displaying it on the roof has resulted in easing everyone's fears. Hrothgar opens the wine cellar, the villagers abandon their watch around the outpost periphery, and Beowulf prepares to depart, thinking that his work is done. Although everyone thinks that Grendel has lumbered off to die, they are wrong. He has returned to the cave where he lives with his mother (Layla Roberts), who is now eager to avenge her son. She sneaks into the castle and seduces Roland (Götz Otto) while, at the same time, Kyra (Rhona Mitra) attempts to seduce Beowulf into staying with her. Suddenly, Beowulf senses the presence of Evil in the outpost. As Beowulf goes in search of it, Kyra warns Hrothgar, and they head for the dining hall to warn the others, only to find everyone already slain, including Roland. Grendel's mother appears before them, explaining to Hrothgar that she is the succubus who has been sharing his bed and that Grendel is Hrothgar's son. She further explains that the outpost was hers long before Hrothgar and his people moved in and that Grendel has merely been trying to claim what, by rights, belongs to him. When Hrothgar goes for her, Grendel shows up and pulls him off, crushing him to death in his strong grip. As Kyra lays on the floor in a daze, having been batted across the room by Grendel, Beowulf drops from the ceiling and plunges his sword through Grendel's chest. His mother attempts to seduce Beowulf, but he resists, so she transforms into the monster that she really is and tries to kill Beowulf. Just when it looks like she's got Beowulf by the throat, he uses his sword to slam open a gas jet in the wall. The firey gas bursts forth and sets mom on fire. As the whole outpost goes up in flames, Beowulf and Kyra, the only survivors, escape on horseback. In the final scene, Kyra convinces Beowulf to take her with him.

Beowulf has long ago passed into public domain and can be found in several places on the Internet. The text of Beowulf in both the Old English and translated forms can be found here, a site created by a professor from the English Department at McMaster University (Ontario, Canada).

While the movie takes a few things from the poem (e.g., the characters Beowulf and Hrothgar, the monster Grendel and his mother, the story of Grendel ravishing the people of the "outpost", the display of Grendel's arm from the rooftop, and the mother of Grendel returning for revenge), mostly everything else was embellishment. There were no angry villagers trying to slice an innocent girl in half, there was no daughter of Hrothgar hot for Beowulf, Beowulf's father was not Baal, Grendel's father was the biblical Cain, Grendel's mother was a mere hag, Hrothgar's wife was alive and well, and Beowulf stayed at Hall Heorot to rule after Hrothgar's death. The advice of those who have both seen the movie and read the poem is to view the movie as a fun flick that uses some of the original story as a guideline.


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