[Milton-L] Great Adaptations

Tony Demarest tonydemarest at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 21 19:10:28 EST 2008

I can speak only to the mud kicked on Beowulf in the article because I have not read Pullman, and neither "buzz" about the film (which I have not seen), nor Gee's article have done anything to persuade me otherwise. I have spent many of my graduate years reading Old English and Old Norse, then went on to a career in public education, and now, 40 years hence, I find myself the "medievalist" at a small college in NJ where, (to make this sentence even more intolerable), medieval includes Milton. I too have discovered that undergraduates enjoy their encounters with Milton, and part of the reason is that they "know" the story.
The Beowulf film is simply bad- the acting, the premise, the silliness of its special effects- but worst of all is its dehumanizing of the characters- JRRT said, "(Beowulf) knew he was a man, and that for him . . . was tragedy enough." (I hope I got that almost right.) And I suspect that a "film" version of almost any great work does little but disenfranchise our imaginative rights. How welcome it was to reread Johnson on Milton- a sense that in providing a "life of the poet," he did translate Milton into his age, something I do not believe Beowulf the film has.
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