Beowulf is a 2007 American performance capture fantasy film inspired by the Old English epic poem of the same name. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film was created through a motion capture process similar to the technique used in The Polar Express and Monster House. The cast includes Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson, John Malkovich, Crispin Glover, Alison Lohman, and Angelina Jolie. It was released in the United Kingdom and United States on November 16, 2007, and was available to view in IMAX 3D, RealD, Dolby 3D and standard 2D format.
Beowulf (Ray Winstone) is a brave Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark alongside his band of soldiers, which include his best friend, Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson), in answer to the call of King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins), who needs a hero to slay a monster called Grendel (Crispin Glover), a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength, who attacks Hrothgar's mead hall, Heorot, whenever the Danes hold a celebration there. Upon arriving, Beowulf immediately becomes attracted to Hrothgar's wife, Queen Wealtheow (Robin Wright Penn).
Beowulf and his men celebrate in Heorot, in order to lure Grendel out. When the beast does attack, Beowulf attacks him unarmed and naked, determining that since Grendel seems to be immune to mortal weapons and carries no weapons of his own, armour and a sword would be pointless in the fight. Watching his reactions during the melee, Beowulf discovers that Grendel has hypersensitive hearing, which is why he interrupts Hrothgar's celebrations - the noise they make is physically painful to him - and uses it to his advantage, ultimately mortally wounding Grendel by severing one of his arms, though he lives long enough to flee back to his cave on the outskirts of the kingdom. As thanks for freeing his kingdom from the monster that plagued them, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his golden drinking horn, which represents the time Hrothgar slew the mighty dragon Fafnir.
Inside his cave, the dying Grendel tells his mother what was done to him, and she swears revenge, attacking Heorot while the warriors sleep and killing all the Geats within save Beowulf. The next day, Beowulf and Wiglaf, who was spared from the slaughter by not being present at the mead hall, go to Grendel's cave seeking to slay his mother as well. Only Beowulf enters the cave where he encounters Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie), who takes the form of a beautiful woman. She offers to make him the greatest king who ever lived if he will agree to give her a son to replace Grendel and let her keep the golden drinking horn. Beowulf gives in to her advances and returns, claiming to have killed her. Hrothgar, however, realizes the truth. He tells Beowulf indirectly that, much like Beowulf, he was also seduced by Grendel's Mother and was Grendel's father. After unexpectedly naming Beowulf his successor as king, much to the dismay of his royal advisor, Unferth (John Malkovich), Hrothgar commits suicide.
Years later, an elderly Beowulf is married to Wealtheow, who refuses to give him an heir since he had previously slept with the water demon. As a result, Beowulf takes a mistress, Ursula (Allison Lohman). One day, Unferth's slave Cain (Dominic Keating) finds the golden drinking horn in a swamp near Grendel's cave and, not realizing why it is there, brings it back to the kingdom. That night, a nearby village is destroyed by a dragon, who leaves Unferth alive in order to deliver a message to King Beowulf; removing the horn has reneged on the agreement between Beowulf and Grendel's mother, who has now sent their son, the dragon, to destroy his kingdom.
Beowulf and Wiglaf once more venture into Grendel's cave and confront the dragon, which attacks Beowulf's castle and attempts to kill Wealtheow and Ursula. Beowulf goes to great lengths to stop the monster, going as far as severing his own arm, and ultimately kills the dragon by ripping his heart out. The dragon's fall mortally wounds Beowulf, but he lives long enough to watch the carcass of the dragon transform into its true form, the humanoid body of his son, before it is washed out to sea. Beowulf then shares words with Wiglaf and dies on the beach. Shortly thereafter, Wiglaf, the new king, gives Beowulf a Norse funeral and watches as his body is taken by the sea. In this moment, Grendel's mother appears and attempts to seduce him, but, unlike the other kings, Wiglaf seems to resist her advances.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Robin Wright ... Wealthow (as Robin Wright-Penn)
Anthony Hopkins ... Hrothgar
Paul Baker ... Musician #1
John Bilezikjian ... Musician #2
Rod D. Harbour ... Musician #3
Brice Martin ... Musician #4 (as Brice H. Martin)
Sonje Fortag ... Gitte (as Sonja Fortag)
Sharisse Baker-Bernard ... Hild
Charlotte Salt ... Estrith
Julene Renee ... Cille (as Julene Rennee)
Greg Ellis ... Garmund
Rik Young ... Eofor
Sebastian Roché ... Wulfgar (as Sebastian Roche)
Leslie Zemeckis ... Yrsa
John Malkovich ... Unferth
Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover and Angelina Jolie
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Neil Gaiman