The ITV series “Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands” was recently canceled due to low ratings after only one season with 11 episodes (ITV originally announced plans for at least 5 seasons). It thus became the latest in a line of failures in bringing the dramatic and epic poem to life. Why is there this seeming difficulty or “curse”?
Remember the 2007 animated version of Beowulf (the one where Angelina Jolie was used as basis for the mother of Grendel)? It stands as a quirky experiment, but not exactly a satisfying re-telling of the epic. Or the 2005 movie “Beowulf & Grendel” starring Gerard Butler and Stellan Skarsgård? Again a faltering attempt at bringing the epic myth to life. Neither the TV series nor the movies have been able to capture the true drama, conflict or epic feel of hero versus monster.
But, perhaps Beowulf is subject to the same curse that has plagued many of the classical myths and legends in making it successfully to the movies or TV. Need we mention: “Troy”, “Clash of the Titans” (or the sequel “Wrath of the Titans”), “Immortals” or “First Knight” and “Excalibur”. And, it is telling that the camp-y TV series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess” could be mentioned as partially successful!
It just seems odd that the same industry can bring us top-notch, modern age, man versus monster myths like “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones”!