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Beowulf vs. The 13th Warrior

             There are some stories that are invulnerable to the tests of time. This is true in the case of Beowulf. This ancient piece of literature which has aged not like fine wine, but more like a species, evolving to better suit its environment. Beowulf was passed on orally for generations until it was preserved in ink by a Catholic munk 1300 years ago. He infused it with his monotheistic ethos. Over the centuries, the tale was adapted to countless novels, films, and cartoons. In the 1990s "The 13th Warrior" was made. This movie was based on a book called Eaters of the Dead, which, in turn, was based on Beowulf. A distinct comparison can be drawn between the film and three sections of the text, "The Wrath of Grendel", "The Battle with Grendel's Mother", and "The Last Battle".
             Beowulf begins with Beowulf and his thirteen companions setting forth from Geatland to exterminate the monster Grendel. Buliwyf, the protagonist of "The 13th Warrior", chooses eleven of his fellow Vikings to accompany him on his quest. He also chooses one Arab, Ahmed, a poet. They departed from Ahmed's homeland at the request of the same tortured king from the story, Hrothgar. Beowulf's nemesis, Grendel, is a lone fiend who, thanks to the Catholic influences on the original tale, acts as a surrogate for Satan. This is apparent in Beowulf and Grendel's apocalyptic battle. Similarly, Beowulf acted as God's surrogate. In "The Wrath of Grendel", the hero and his foe square off in a bare fisted brawl. Beowulf mortally wounds the creature by relieving him of his arm. In the movie, Buliwyf and his allies lay in wait in Hrothgar's Herot. They were assaulted not by a single monster, but by a veritable army of men disguised as bear creatures. They were unable to take any kind of trophy from the Wendol, because they vanished without a trace, save for a single claw. Absent from the film are any religious references, Christian or pagan.

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