Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Kristevan and Intimately Alien Grendel Appears on The Sopranos

Chalk up another one for the hipness of Beowulf. In episode three of Season Six of The Sopranos, when the ex-gambling addict, screenwriter J.T. [played by Tim Daly] is giving a talk to the Writer's Guild about the psychological struggle of depicting one's inner demons in narrative form, he says, "It's like Beowulf. Grendel isn't really a monster. He's more like a state of mind, a symptom, a disease . . ." [or words to that effect] and then Christopher and his thugs bust in and shake him down to write a screenplay loosely based on the idea, "Saw meets The Godfather." So we never get to hear the rest of J.T.'s thoughts on Grendel's character. Shoot.

But, hey, over at the Sci-Fi Channel, we can look forward to the Sci-Fi original movie, Grendel, the tagline for which is, "An Unstoppable Monster Held a Kingdom Hostage. A Hero Set It Free," and which premieres this Saturday [Jan. 13] at 9:00 p.m. The preview for the movie depicts a Grendel who very closely resembles the monster in Alien. Although most of the buzz over at ANSAXNET is taken up with how much this movie will very likely suck [after all, as our mutual friend Dr. Nokes points out, this is a network that brought us Mansquito], I am looking forward to its likely uproariously melodramatic take on my favorite Old English epic. Oh yeah, there is only one of those, isn't there?


The Spirit of Creative Writing said...

Re the Sci-Fi Channel thing. Wow. Would you say the montsr resembles the Alien? I'd say it has a more Werewolfy vibe going on. Although if I had to describe the monster's appearance in that Sci Fi trailer in one word, the word I'd choose would probably be cheap.

Incidentally, this may be the place to unveil to the world my theory of the etymology of Grendel's name, an etymology that according to the recherche sources I have consulted (well, according to the Wikipedia article on 'Grendel' at any rate) seems to divide scholars. I'd argue the name is the Beowulf-poet's slightly mangled or half-remembered version of the Latin Grundiles. This is one of the appelations of the Roman household gods, the Lares, a strange and rather spooky bunch (one of several supernatural species that were supposed to haunt, or at least be propitiated in, the Roman home). The Lares Grundiles means the 'Growling Lares': a worrying sort of creature to have, uninvited, in your home. Don't you think.

There. You Are Grendel And I Claim My Five Pounds.

Eileen Joy said...

Adam--thanks for the comment. I was torn about how to describe Grendel from the trailer, and I guess he *is* more werewolfian than he is like the monster in "Alien." He also seems to possess a bit of a dinosaur-ish look. As befits the figure in the poem, Sci-Fi's Grendel is definitely a hybrid of sorts. If I were wanting a Grendel that followed the poem as closely as possible, he would be a kind of giant human with troll-like features and claws and his eyes would glow. Oh well. I like your etymology, as well--it fits, too, with the OE "grindan" for "grinding" or "gnashing."