Completeness is a lost cause. Wikipedia lists about as many Beowulf adaptations as it does for Wuthering Heights, and its list includes almost nothing prior to 1950. In contrast to the Victorian novels we’ve looked at, Beowulf seems to lend itself especially well to non-“faithful” adaptations—perhaps in part because the plot is quite simple and the characters have little interiority.
Here is Wikipedia’s list:
Here is a long list of “Beowulfiana” compiled by John William Sutton, which has some items missing from the Wikipedia list (including a bunch of toys and knick-knacks):
There are numerous modern “retellings” of Beowulf, a sort of book that sits somewhere between adaptation and translation. There have also been a number of novels that, like Gardner’s Grendel, attempt to give a new spin to the Beowulf story. Sutton’s list has pithy descriptions of all the books he’s found, so I won’t create a new list here; however, I will note a few books that are related to adaptations in other media.
• Michael Crichton’s 1976 novel Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan, Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922 is partially based on Beowulf, with a 10th-century setting inspired by the accounts of the Arab traveler Ahmad ibn Fadlan. It was adapted into the film The 13th Warrior (see below).
• There is a novelization of the 2007 Zimeckis film, written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, as well as a comic book adaptation by Chris Ryall.
• Another complex case is Beowulf, an adaptation by Julian Glover of the Verse Translations of Michael Alexander and Edwin Morgan. It contains the text used in a one-man show by Julian Glover, along with illustrations and a scholarly introduction.
Here is a list of film adaptations:
• Grendel Grendel Grendel (1981) is an animated adaptation of John Gardner’s novel, starring Peter Ustinov (who we remember from last week) as the monster. It is available here:
• Beware: Children at Play (1989) is a low-budget horror movie about a group of cannibalistic children led by a boy who believes himself to be Grendel. It looks pretty terrible, but if you want to watch, it is on YouTube:
• In 1998, BBC aired a short, animated film called Animated Epics: Beowulf. It is available here:
• John McTiernan’s 1999 film The 13th Warrior, which is an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, is on YouTube in full:
• Graham Baker’s 1999 film Beowulf is a sci-fi adaptation set in the future. It can be found streaming on Netflix. The (unmistakably of-its-time) trailer is here:
• The 2005 film Beowulf & Grendel can be found in full here:
• Grendel is a 2007 TV movie released by the Sci-Fi channel. It seems to be available on DVD in Germany, but not in Region 1. Here is a clip:
• The 2007 film by Zemeckis can be found streaming on Netflix.
• Beowulf: Prince of the Geats (2008) is a low-budget Norwegian film. It had a limited DVD release, but it would probably be necessary to get it through ILL. Here is the trailer:
• The 2008 film Outlander is supposedly a sci-fi adaptation of Beowulf. It is available at NYPL.
Some other interesting things:
• I found this paper arguing that Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a “retelling” of Beowulf:
• The Star Trek: Voyager episode “Heroes and Demons” (1995) features a holodeck program of Beowulf. You can watch it with ads on Hulu here:
• Beowulf appeared as a character in several episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess. There is a bit of info about this here:
• Beowulf Cartoon is a rebus-like book by Michael J. Weller, with a translation of the poem written in expressive bubble letters. It does not seem to be easily attainable in the US, but there is a photo of it here:
• Biowulf (2006) is a cyberpunk manga adaptation by David Hutchinson. Nassau county library has at least the first volume.
• The Web comic Bob the Angry Flower did a multi-part adaptation/parody of Beowulf:
• The Animaniacs comic book #49 includes adaptations of a number of “classics”, including Beowulf. It may be possible to get this by ILL. There is some info here:
• The Creatures series of computer games has a species called the “Grendels”. See: