Smearing a Hero

As long as I’m reviewing movies that are several years old, let me say a word about the hatchet job director Robert Zemeckis did on Beowulf (2007).

I hung in for a long ten minutes before I turned it off and read the plot summary by Wikipedia. This confirmed my worst fears for the movie.

Beowulf the hero, whose story has lasted some 1,500 years, is here presented as a horn-dog and a humbug who fornicates with Grendel’s mother (a monster) and then pretends he’s killed her, shamelessly reaping rewards and praise for it, all the while cheating with the queen behind the king’s back; and noble King Hrothgar is shown as a grotty old sot whose queen spits in his face in front of all his warriors… and so on.

Why are we so averse to heroes? Is it because our morally impoverished age can’t generate a hero? We build ourselves up by tearing down the past. Because we can’t find anyone but bums and scalawags to be our leaders, we insist that no one in the past could have been great or noble or wise. No one can be good! There’s no such thing as good!

Someday, a thousand years from now, people will still tell the story of Beowulf. And if we’re luckier than we deserve, they’ll pass over our benighted age in silence.

10 comments on “Smearing a Hero

  1. It is a curious phenomenon of our day, but it could be coming from the mindset that pervades the schools. No one believes that he/she is capable of greatness, therefore nobody is allowed to achieve more than his fellow. We can’t have that for someone’s feelings would be hurt to be made to feel “lesser than”. When I began school, it was encouraged to excel and it was understood that not everyone was created with equal intellectual capacity. The brighter students helped the more challenged ones, and it was done with good will. Not the case today. This mindset has created a generation of losers who are proud to be so.

    1. Yes, it’s not “social justice” for anyone to be a hero–not democratic, you see. (The statement is just as true if you write it with a capital D.)

  2. Yes, it’ quite annoying when they do things like that. Sort of like they did to Peter in the Prince Caspian movie, and Edmund in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
    Of course a hero can be a hero inspite of his flaws, but heroes don’t let their flaws overcome them or define them. If they do, then they aren’t heroes, but just ordinary people.

    1. The Bible gives us heroes–David, for instance–without trying to pretend they didn’t have human flaws. They are heroes in spite of their flaws. We get a whole roster of heroes in Hebrews Chap. 11. But what we get in these movies are heroes with bodies like Arnold Schwarzenegger and morals like Bill Clinton.

  3. I started watching that version of Beowulf and I can remembering thinking “This isn’t like the Beowulf I was made to read in school.”
    HBO is working on a miniseries about JFK showing him as a drug addict with an out of control temper (not that I consider JFK as a hero).

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