Beowulf is the latest addition to television’s epic drama genre and one of ambitious undertaking. Here are five reasons why you should tune in.
It’s better than the poem you had to read in high school
Beowulf is a modern reimagining of the legendary poem written between the 8th and 10th centuries and it’s much sexier than the version you had to read in high school. Although the poem is over a thousand years old, the main themes still ring true to this day: courage, loyalty, revenge, power, family, and love. The show is a new and exciting take on a familiar tale focusing on the man and hero himself, Beowulf.
The epic poem has been transformed and expanded into a sweeping 13-part drama. Described as a Western set in the Dark Ages, the series is a blend of traditional and new. The titular character is a damaged hero that returns home to Herot to pay his respects to an ailing Thane (king). When Herot comes under attack and Beowulf is wrongly accused of murder, Beowulf must find the true killer, whether it be man or beast. Along the journey he is confronted by danger, love, and his own humanity.
The humans are very human, each with their own strengths and struggles. Beowulf (Kieran Bew) is a flawed, honorable, and reluctant hero with a past he is running from. When he suddenly finds himself to be Herot’s protector, he steps into this role in search of justice and redemption.
The other characters are equally multi-layered: Hrothgar (William Hurt), a courageous leader, Thane of Herot, and mentor to Beowulf; Rheda (Joanne Whalley), an intelligent widow and successor to Hrothgar as well as a cunning politician; Breca (Gisli Orn Gardarsson), a liar and criminal whose life is spared by Beowulf and accompanies him on his journey back to Herot; Elvina (Laura Donnelly), a beautiful healer with her share of dark secrets and whom Beowulf is drawn to; and Slean (Edward Speleers), Rheda’s ambitious and resentful son and the third party of a love triangle involving Beowulf and Elvina.
A Struggle for Power
Herot is the stronghold of the country, and thus its seat of Thane is highly coveted. Motives, ambitions and plans are often questioned and rarely straightforward, and a fierce struggle for power underlies the series. Characters dance between good and evil in the pursuit of the title of Thane, leading to treacherous betrayals and battles, both political and physical.
Soaring Fight Sequences
No epic saga is complete without thrilling action and adventure, and Beowulf is true to that. In a rugged land where peace is uneasy at best and danger is always lurking, conflict exists within families, across tribes, and between men and monsters. As a result, chases, raids, sword fights, and large battles, all in the pursuit of power, are never far off.
An Epic World Brought to Life
While the setting is fictional, the very real County Durham in North East England serves as the Shieldlands in the show. The former mining county was chosen for its diversity of landscapes and minimal modern day comforts to approximate the feel and wilderness of the 8th century. An extensive and grand set was constructed here to bring Beowulf to life. Villages, the Great Hall, costumes, creatures, and weapons were copiously designed to truly immerse audiences in a rich historical world. A stunning array of natural caves, mountains, forests, waterfalls, and wind-swept cliffs also contribute to give Beowulf the feel of an expansive adventure.