[Milton-L] Milton movies

Sara van den Berg vandens at slu.edu
Thu Nov 29 17:48:48 EST 2007

There are several:

Anne Manning, /Mary Powell (/with a follow-up novel, /Deborah's Diary/)
Robert Graves, /Wife to Mr. John Milton /
Max Ring, /John Milton and His Times/
Eva Figes, /The Tree of Knowledge/

Have fun,

Sara van den Berg

Michele Walfred wrote:
> It makes one shudder what filmakers can do (or will do) to /Paradise 
> Lost/. The thought of the Son with computer generated pecs?? The only 
> director I think could do PL justice would be LOTR’s Peter King. Which 
> leads me to another question…I just read Hill’s /Milton and the 
> English Revolution/ and he spends more time and conjecture on Milton’s 
> marriage to Mary than most I have read so far, but has anyone ever 
> attempted a novel of Milton’s life (allowing some creative license 
> based on sound scholarship)? It would seem to me, given the dramatic 
> times in which he lived in, both politically and personally, that a 
> decent screenplay might be born from such a work. His chaos gave birth 
> to such masterful thought and expression and a film about the process 
> of his art would be just as fascinating as the work itself – a la 
> /Amadeus/ though less giggly for certain.
> ~Michele Walfred
> University of Delaware
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu 
> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] *On Behalf Of *Jackie Murdock
> *Sent:* Thursday, November 29, 2007 2:24 PM
> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] 17th Century contexts
> A similar discussion went on a couple of weeks ago on a Chaucer 
> listserv. This posting, by Daniel Kline, is one that I found 
> particularly interesting and may offer you all some food for thought. 
> (Back to lurking now)
> --Jackie Murdock
> I really enjoy these kinds of discussions where medieval culture
> intersects
> pop-culture topics because, I guess, I'm of the mind that my individual
> situatedness in my own culture (with all its attendant complexities)
> inevitably conditions my understand of "the medieval."
> To whit, a snippet of Stephanie Zacharek's review of "Beowulf" from
> Salon.com <http://salon.com/>:
> <begin quotation>
> "Beowulf" is Zemeckis' latest foray into soul sucking -- I mean,
> performance
> capture -- and if you're thinking that the so-called filmmaker has
> hunkered
> down to make a nice, faithful adaptation of the 2000 Seamus Heaney
> translation of that weird, melancholy epic poem (you optimistic thing,
> you),
> you should know that this "Beowulf" has been adapted, reimagined and
> souped
> up by writers Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. After the hero of the title,
> "played" by Ray Winstone, severs the arm of Grendel (Crispin Glover),
> the
> scary, anguished creature that has been terrorizing a community of
> mead-swilling Danes, a comely cutie wonders aloud if all of Beowulf's
> strength is in his arms -- or if he's got it in his legs as well,
> especially
> the "third" one.
> You see, the "real" Beowulf is not a particularly sexy story, and
> Zemeckis
> knows it. "Frankly, nothing about the original poem appealed to me,"
> he's
> quoted as saying in the movie's press notes, recalling that he'd been
> made
> to read the damn thing in junior high school. "But when I read the
> screenplay that Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary did, I was immediately
> captivated." He asked Gaiman and Avary why their script was so exciting
> when
> the poem was so boring. They explained that the poem was written
> somewhere
> between the seventh and the 12th centuries, although its story had been
> passed along verbally for hundreds of years. Since the only people who
> knew
> how to write in those days were monks, Avary and Gaiman figured these
> reputable men of the cloth would have edited out all the juicy bits, so
> they
> added some back in. If you see "Beowulf," you'll have plenty of
> opportunities to stare down computer-generated cleavage, and one rowdy,
> bearded, tattooed warrior crows to one of his conquests about how much
> noise
> he makes when he comes. Personally, I file that under "TMI," especially
> coming from a cartoon character, but you have to admit it would knock
> any
> monk off his sandals.
> <end quotation>
> I think Gaiman and Avary have created an important new form of textual
> criticism -- 'paleopornology' or perhaps 'pornocodicology' -- in which
> one
> simply adds the 'juicy bits' to lacunae in the text to create a salable
> screenplay. I also think it's interesting to see the textual
> assumptions
> that shaped the screenwriters' approach to the text.
> I guess I prefer to try to make sense out of what these adaptations
> achieve
> discursively and culturally rather than decry their 'authenticity' or
> 'inauthenticity' (as I try to do with any movie adaptation of a written
> text. They're two different forms of media with their own sets of
> conventions.)
> As to Brian's question as to what makes something good or bad? On the
> one
> hand, I absolutely love good bad movies ('A Knight's Tale') but get
> cranky
> around badly done movies that could've been good ('Joliewulf') because,
> like
> 'Polar Express' (Zemeckis's other 'motion capture' crapfest) it turns
> actors
> into animations and robs them of their most important assets: their
> bodies.
> I don't mind stiff and plasticated 3D rendering in a game character
> that I'm
> controlling, but I think it just deadens the characters in a movie.
> Nonetheless, I'll definitely go see the movie and I'll likely enjoy a
> lot of
> it, but certainly not with the expectation that it's 'Beowulf' in any
> sense
> that I understand that Anglo-Saxon text or that it's anything other
> than an
> elaborate computer generated cartoon--that's not nearly as good as
> 'Knight-Night Bugs.'
> */Roy Flannagan <roy at gwm.sc.edu>/* wrote:
>     I just reviewed the Beowulf movie for the local media here in
>     Beaufort. I certainly hope that no English majors here say "I'm
>     not reading the book because I saw the movie!"
>     Roy Flannagan
>     Beowulf, the Computer-Enhanced Movie
>     The god of Wrothgar in the Beowulf movie seems to be Epicurus, not
>     Odin, even if Anthony Hopkins, in character, often says,
>     drunkenly, “Thank you, Odin.” Poor old Sir Anthony has to show off
>     enhanced muscular arms and lots of blubber as he appears as
>     inelegantly nude from the rear as did Jack Nicholson in As Good as
>     it Gets. Angelina Jolie, now called Angewulf in various
>     blogs*well, she is another thing naked in gold paint. I guess all
>     those old Geats, Angles, and Saxons used to party naked in the
>     seedy meadhalls that in the movie look like road houses on a
>     Fifties rural dirt road in the South.
>     The movie is special-effected, rather than acted, even though the
>     director, Tribeca or Duckmuckus, whatever his name is, has bought
>     very expensive stars in Hopkins, Jolie, and John Malkovitch; and
>     the actor who plays Beowulf in the buff, Ray Winstone, is
>     undoubtedly an experienced actor underneath his enhanced,
>     synthetic facial expressions and his all-too-perfect abs. For some
>     reason, Winstone uses a Welsh accent to play a Geat. But, for his
>     character, computer-generated imagery rules.
>     Don’t go to see the movie right after having read Beowulf the epic
>     poem, because then you will wonder why Wealtheow, wife of
>     Hrothgar, played by Robin Wright Penn, starts flirting with
>     Beowulf as if she were Isolde married to King Mark and flirting
>     with Tristan*or as if she were Lancelot’s girly-girl Guinevere,
>     off on her fling from King Arthur. All those medieval romances
>     look alike, according to Zemeckis and his writers. And Grendel in
>     the cartoonish movie is a rotting corpsy thing, something like the
>     Gollum in Ring movies but able to fling Jutes or Geats or Danes
>     from one end of the hall to another with a one-handed toss (until
>     Beowulf rips his arm off, of course). He is not, as in the epic,
>     spawn of Satan and descendant of Cain, and Christianity is sadly
>     mocked in the movie and made to seem second-fiddle to the worship
>     of Odin. In the epic, Grendel and his mother are both emissaries
>     of Satan, sent to punish humankind for evil human deeds. In the
>     movie, they are eit!
>     her slimy or beautiful in gold leaf, and they have little or no
>     theological significance.
>     Grendel’s mother is not younger than Grendel in the epic, or
>     golden, or naked: she is a certified evil, strong old hag. She is
>     fought with under water: she doesn’t rise out of it slowly like
>     the sword in some “wartery tart’s” arm coming out of a puddle. You
>     can tell that I like Monty Python and the Holy Grail better than I
>     do this movie, which takes itself too seriously, for the sake of
>     all the teenaged boys who are drawn to its violence, its teasing
>     nudity, and its noise.
>     I guess it is good for the continuity in the movie’s plot to have
>     the dragon that Beowulf fights in his declining years occasionally
>     look like another of the shapes shifted into by Angiewulf, and for
>     Angie-the-demon-bitch-goddess to be making out with the body of
>     Beowulf as it burns in his ship burial, as he seems to be
>     returning to the really sexy love of his youth, the beautiful
>     Jolie hag.
>     As an English professor, I don’t know what exactly could be done
>     with Beowulf in the movies, since it is a Christianized heroic
>     wolfy folk tale written down by monks in about 1000 AD. In today’s
>     idiom, the plot certainly appears to have cartoon elements, though
>     I don’t think computerized graphic images are the way to make a
>     cartoon based on primitive fears of swamp monsters facing
>     totemistic super-strong, battle-hardened heroes. If I were making
>     the movie on a human scale, a character-based movie, I might use a
>     giant like the guy in the early Bond movies or an NFL tight end in
>     the role of the monster, and, I guess, a pumped-up Brad Pitt type
>     as Beowulf*the type Brad Pitt played in Troy. Hrothgar, Wealtheow,
>     Unferth, and Wiglaf could all be played by fairly ordinary actors
>     who could act kingly or queenly or snidely or loyally. And the
>     mead hall should be a fairly substantial standalone structure, not
>     a kind of outhouse adjacent to some sort of fairy tale futuristic
>     medie!
>     val town as it is in the movie. Things going on in the mead hall
>     could be drunken, yes, but not as if we were attending a Roman
>     Saturnalia with a paunchy Trimalchio figure leading the chuggers.
>     And, I’m sorry, but really pretty modern women like Angelina Jolie
>     and Robin Wright Penn don’t belong in an era of crooked teeth and
>     dred-locks not just for battle-worn men but for the hags they married.
>     _______________________________________________
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