|OCTOBER 2005 NEWS
posted another great interview with Stellan that appeared in a 1998
issue of Sweden's Cafe magazine.
It's quite lengthy and full of interesting tidbits. I especially love
the "cow" story that his son Alexander relates. A huge thank you goes to
Robin Solsjö Höglund for his dedication and time that he put into
translating this long article.
also added a dozen new photos to the Image
II Gallery. Look for them in the last two rows.
found a few more reviews of BEOWULF AND GRENDEL -
"Filmed on location in Iceland you've got to be pretty daft to screw
up filming such gorgeous landscape. Iceland is breathtakingly
beautiful and hostile at the same time... The production design was
impressive as well though I did find the prostetic body suits on
Grendal and his father a wee bit hoaky and obvious. Liberties were
also taken with the dialogue in the movie. For obvious reasons old
English just wouldn't be cricket since no one would understand what
is being said... It is hard to say you want more action out of the
film when it is bound by such revered text. But the sequences
themselves are done well... The movie itself though stands as pretty
common fare... All in all it was a pretty standard film that will
likely infuriate devotees to the poem and give the rest of us who
know nothing of it only a muddy interpretation of it. Kind of like
watching a made for tv Shakesperean movie and then expecting to pass
your English test the next day. "
"Instead of being a cheesy Viking epic, it is hilarious and
poignant, despite more beheadings in it than Braveheart. The
dialogue is hysterical."
"Making the most of what was obviously a small budget, this could
have been an interesting humanitarian interpretation of the Beowulf
legend but for one thing: Sarah Polley. In a movie where we come to
accept everyone as accented (not all the same accent, but we forgive
that), Polley’s Ontario tones jar us out of the story every time she
appears. The rest of the movie is good (Gerard Butler is excellent
as Beowulf) and her acting isn’t bad, but it’s unfortunate that one
bout of miscasting had to send this film so far wrong."
The Can Magazine:
"This is an impressive film from the start as it opens onto the raw
and unforgiving landscapes of Iceland itself. But there's also a
stark beauty in those landscapes that rivets the viewer's attention
and keeps it firmly locked in place through the duration of the
"Okay, so parts of this production look like a Monty Python parody,
and the actors’ accents are all over the northern map. The legendary
warrior of the piece (Gerard Butler) sure has a lot of qualms for an
Iron Age Anglo-Saxon. Still, there’s no denying that Sturla
Gunnarsson’s full-bodied adaptation of this hoary epic is splendidly
entertaining—not that this is the most sympathetic representation of
the monster of the title since John Gardner wrote Grendel 40 years
ago. Stellan Skarsgård steals the acting honours, and Sarah Polley
has never looked so sexy."
that's Stellan with Natalie Portman at a football/soccer match between
Real Madrid and Valencia at Santiago Barnabeu Stadium in Madrid last
Sunday. Looks like he brought his laptop to perhaps catch up on some
work. If you click on the photo, you'll bring up a set of pics from
newscom.com. I heard from Stellan on Friday. He reports that he's still
having his usual fun on the set of Goya's Ghosts, and in
another week he'll be returning to the Bahamas to do more pirating if
Hurricane Wilma hasn't taken the set! A few months ago some lucky folks
had the chance to
visit the POTC sets for DEAD MAN'S CHEST in LA and were
able to view one of the decks on Davey Jones’ ship, The Flying Dutchman.
Covered in coral growths, wet sand and rust, the deck looked like it had
been on the ocean floor for decades. It smelled of wet wood and decay,
but nonetheless was very detailed and convincingly old. Leaving the set,
they all had a chance to see Stellan in full costume as Bootstrap
Bill Turner. Eric Williamson reports that Bootstrap appeared to be
wearing a large trench coat with pieces of coral sticking out of it and
his face was extremely pale. He says that the detail was exquisite.
There were also some set pictures on a board that showed Stellan
peering over Orlando Bloom's shoulder. Jeff Otto describes seeing
Stellan in full pirate get-up complete with red eyes and barnacles
coming out of his back. And lastly, Andrew Weil reports that
Stellan was wearing pirate regalia, yet he didn't look like any worldly
pirate seen in the first film. He looked as if a barnacle was growing
off his shoulder and his face looked to be dripping off. He says the
makeup was incredible to see. Here's our only photo of Stellan thus far.
Guess he's ready for some trick or treating!
BEOWULF AND GRENDEL recently screened in Korea
at the Pusan International Film Festival, which director Sturla
Gunnarsson attended. The poster to the left is the first official poster
we've seen. I can't say that I like it much after viewing all the more
creative banners that fans made in the recent contest sponsored by the
official web site and gerardbutler.net. The film has now been shown at
four film festivals and will have a general release in Canada in March
2006, but at the present time the filmmakers appear to be struggling
with obtaining a US distributor. The following are excerpts from
reviews, the first two from film critics and the rest from film festival
"Based on the famed epic poem, Beowulf & Grendel tells the astonishingly
dull and hopelessly irrelevant story of a legendary warrior named
Beowulf (Gerard Butler) who must hunt down and kill a murderous
troll before it does any more damage. With a storyline that involves
sea monsters, larger-than-life heroes, and quirky fortune tellers,
it seems clear that Beowulf & Grendel has been geared specifically
to appeal to children - although the presence of some awfully scary
moments towards the end would seem to refute that idea. The result
is a movie that's not entirely appropriate for kids but way too
silly for adults, while Gunnarsson's bland directorial choices
ensure that even fans of the source material will be left scratching
their heads. The performances are competent, at least, although a
large portion of the dialogue is virtually impossible to follow
thanks to Gunnarsson's ill-conceived vision (it's either flowery to
such an extent that it doesn't make any sense or it's drowned out by
some seriously heavy accents)." * out of ****
"Director Sturla Gunnarsson seems aware of the savagery intrinsic to
the story, but is unable to mine it deeply, proving too genteel in
the end to make a genuinely creepy or disturbing film. He is not,
however, averse to injecting it with humor, as when the Danish king
admits he's heard of Christ but wonders if Jesus ever had to deal
with a troll - or when, in an optimistic moment, the monarch
proposes a toast "to the end of gloom!
Butler cuts a somewhat more commanding figure here than he did as
the woeful Phantom of the Opera, while Skarsgård oozes remorse and
boozy breath as the distinctly unregal king. In the company of the
male actors' assorted North Sea burrs, Sarah Polley's flat North
American accent sticks out oddly in her representation as a
raven-haired, sexually open-minded witch willing to welcome to her
lair both the troll and the man who would kill him.
Stark, barren Icelandic locations stand front and center in Jan
Kiesser's muscular widescreen compositions. Rugged costumes are
convincing, and score goes part of the way to providing an epic
"Historical purists will probably take issue with the portrayal of
the story and with the dialogue. However, judged on its own merits,
Beowulf and Grendel is a fine film. The film looks epic, thanks to
the on-location filming in Iceland. Butler is suitably heroic, and
Sigurdsson does well with a role that has essentially no dialogue...
Screenwriter Andrew Rai Berzins makes use of slightly more
contemporary language in the script, but without any ill effect."
"Skarsgard is amazing as King
Hrothgar, a man self-destructing as he helplessly watches Grendel
killing his people, consumed with hiding the fact that the catalyst
was his own reckless action. Words like "walks on water" come to
mind when describing Skarsgard's work...With Berzins' thoughtful and
humorous script reflecting the real camaraderie of the talented
cast, and Gunnarsson's direction reflecting his obvious love both
for the story and for Iceland, we get a moving and beautiful film."
"Upon seeing it the first time - I
felt the film was a bit slow and there seemed to be a lot of going
here and there with little conflict or purpose. The accents were a
bit hard to understand, but with the second viewing, the accents
were easier to understand and the story seemed to flow much
better....Stellan Skarsgård (Hrothgar) was genius in his role as the
conscience-stricken, battle weary King of the Danes and Gerard
Butler was very much the noble, heroic yet human, Beowulf."
"The film was beautiful to behold
~ breathtaking scenery of Iceland set alongside a moving and
powerful score. The entire cast delivered strong performances.
Gerard Butler was a magnificent Beowulf ... emoting the torment of
his soul with tender subtlety yet never compromising the intrinsic
brutality and strength vital to his character."
"It is visually stunning,
beautifully written, and the performances by the wonderful cast were
"Breath-taking scenery, strong
performances and an unexpected message come together in Sturla
Gunnarsson's Beowulf & Grendel... The tone of the original oral
tradition is maintained by Berzins' strict adherence to Anglo-Saxon
and Norse root words and an ongoing thread of bawdy humor against a
relentless musical score rife with tribal drums. The comic relief
serves, as in Shakespeare's tragedies, to lighten and make palatable
the raw impact of some harsh realities revealed."
"I enjoyed the film but there were
several problems with it. The first was that many of the non-English
speaking actors, which is most of the cast, do not speak clearly
enough, meaning that the viewer can only understand about every
third line of the movie. I was not the only who had this problem.
Secondly, the idea of turning the story sideways by making Grendel
the sympathetic character is interesting, but I found that it
detracted from Beowulf's development as a hero and he was portrayed
in a heroic light. Third the language use in the film varied between
chorus like story telling and modern day words and phrases."
DOMINION DVD will be released today in the UK, but here in the states we'll have to wait another
week. In the meantime, here are more scenes from the film. I've lightened them up a bit since
most were quite dark.
I don't know about you, but I'm very much looking
forward to seeing this film and comparing the two versions. I assume
I'll prefer Schrader's since it deals more with Merrin's struggles
in his interior life.
short film TORTE BLUMA, which won the Best of the Festival award
at Palm Springs, will now be screened at the13th Annual Hamptons
International Film Festival, running October 19-23, 2005. The picture to
the left is a new one showing Stellan in the role of German
commandant Franz Stangl. And speaking of film festivals, Stellan has
signed up as Patron of the Northern Lights Film Festival, which
runs November 17-24 in Newcastle, England. First held in 2003, the NLFF
owes its title to not just being set in Newcastle, but because it
focuses on films from northern latitudes - Denmark, Estonia, Finland,
Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, UK and Germany. NLFF reports
they are "delighted this year to have been given a true Scandinavian
seal of approval by Sweden's most famous acting son, Stellan Skarsgård."
He says, "When I was approached to become Patron of the Northern Lights
Film Festival, I was hugely flattered. I think what this festival is
doing is totally unique in the UK in terms of bringing together all
sections of film from education and exhibition to production and even an
industry summit. The fact that this festival gives audiences the
opportunity to see films that otherwise would only be screened in say,
London or Edinburgh, is really exciting. I look forward to the special
relationship that I hope to build with Northern Lights - and to seeing
some of the fantastic new work from award-winning directors, actors,
writers and producers."
October 13th, an article was published by Colpisa, a Spanish press
agency, which featured an interview with
GOYA'S GHOSTS co-star Javier Bardem. He refers to the script by
Jean Claude Carriere and Milos Forman as very solid, attractive and
intelligent. He says the film has humor, historical background and
depicts an accurate portrait of Spanish society at that time. He goes on
to say he has thoroughly researched the role but in the end, "my work is
more creative than illustrative. I am an actor and I use my
Spanish newspaper El Norte de Castilla reported that filming for
GOYA'S GHOSTS took place in Segovia for seven days, three more
days than expected. The photo here taken from yesterday's paper shows
the production crew packing up the costume van. The article also
speculates that director Milos Forman wants to release the film in "the
first months of 2006", but that seems quite implausible to me if they're
not wrapping up filming until December. More photos from the shoot - the
first one shows Stellan and Javier Bardem - taking a cigarette break?
And the second one shows Bardem in a carriage. Muchas gracias to Sharon
Smithline and Sarah J. for alerting me to these two photos!