Friday, August 19, 2005

Neil Gaiman and Beowulf

Famed was this Beowulf far flew the boast of him,
son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.

So goes part of the description of Beowulf in the Prologue to the famous poem, one of the great fantasy epics of all time. But an epic which has had many adaptations.

From the much lauded Grendel which views the myth through the eyes of a Nihilistic "monster" (it also represents Beowulf as a crazed figure, see the comments adapted from Scruton regarding Superheroes below), to the much anticipated (at least by me) boardgame there have been worthy adaptations. But there have also been less successful ones. While I enjoyed The Thirteenth Warrior (and the book version Eaters of the Dead), most critics and audiences found it disappointing, but it was nowhere near as disappointing as the Christopher Lambert version. Come to think of it...not much that Christopher Lambert has been in is worth watching (excepting of course Highlander the first one, and Greystoke). Especially horrifying were Gunmen and Highlander II (even the "Renegade Edition"). Planet Zeist? Pfewy!

Robert Zemeckis, director of the Back to the Future films and Castaway, is working on a new adaptation of the film and according to ICV2 and Variety the screenplay by Neil Gaiman has been Greenlighted (greenlit?).

I have two central concerns with the project.

Unlocked Wordhoard and The Lemmings Were Pushed share one of my concerns. DKP at Lemmings is concerned with how the "motion capture" will look, and Wordhoard thought it was enough of a concern to link it. I too share in this concern. Motion capture can work well, like Gollum in LotR, but it can also really freak you out, like it did in Zemeckis' own Polar Express. But I have high hopes for this one in regards to special EFX.

My second concern is with the use of Neil Gaiman as a writer. I like Gaiman, I own a lot of Sandman comics to prove it, but he can be a little pretentious at times. Let me rephrase that. He can be way too pretentious some times. No...wait. He IS extraordinarily pretentious. Did you read American Gods? Give me Manly Wade Wellman anyday! (Though to be honest I did like American Gods, but only the really pretentious part of me.) So I worry that the film, if Gaiman had creative control, might not be accessible to large audiences, but that worry is largely diminished because Zemeckis (the director of Used Cars and Romancing the Stone) is the opposite of pretentious. But then again...there is that Polar Express thing. But then he did come up with the story for Bordello of Blood, so who am I to say who is pretentious?

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