Search - Beowulf on DVD

Actor: Benjamin Bagby
Director: Stellan Olsson
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2007     1hr 38min

Finally, the long awaited recording is made! Since 1990, Benjamin Bagby has been performing the great epic Beowulf at major festivals and venues around the world. Now we have his remarkable performance on DVD, beautifully ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Benjamin Bagby
Director: Stellan Olsson
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Drama, Country, Other Music, Classical
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/13/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Dark Ages Return Brilliantly
Joseph L. Ponessa | Glendive MT USA | 02/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Not only is the 7th or 8th-century epic Beowulf the earliest surviving work of English literature, it predates the classics of all modern European languages. Before Beowulf there is only Latin and Greek literature, the writing of late antiquity. The work survived miraculously in a single manuscript, copied in the later middle ages, preserved in a monastic library, dispersed during the Reformation into a private collection, transcribed by an Icelandic scholar, singed in a catastrophic library fire, come to rest in the British Museum -- and never fully appreciated until the critical study by J.R.R. Tolkien!
The Benjamin Bagby website states that his performance is sung in the original Old English, with optional subtitles in Modern English. That will be an excellent way to comprehend the work, much better than listening to the Old English on CD while trying to follow in a pony translation, or listening to the translation on CD while trying to follow the original in print.
Bagby revives the text as well by accompanying it with a medieval string instrument. I don't know of any recording of BEOWULF that has tried this, although I have a CD set of EL CID from Spain that takes another (not nearly as early) medieval text and intones it. The singing should slow down the performance, but the announced running time of 132 minutes compares to Trevor Eaton's impeccable 145-minute reading in Old English on Pearl CD, or to Nobel Laureate Seamus Heany's 135-minute reading of his wonderful translation into Modern English, for HighBridge.
Tolkien, who sang a recording of some of his own Elfish poems, would have been immensely pleased with Bagby's accomplishment."
Return to the roots
klavaza | Miami, FL USA | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The voice of Benjamin Bagby, his masterful way to play the Anglosaxon harp and his ability to tell, will transport you to an age that, if it would not have been historic, would seem a dream about ancient gods, dragons, heroes, damsels and sacrifices: an age before time, when kings battled against horrid demons and great heroes were defeated without mercy in a narrative that still combined old Norse mythology with Christian teachings. If you have never heard before about Beowulf, the oldest extant poem of Old English, or if you are a student devoted to learning the foresteps of English, please buy this DVD and enjoy, learn and let it take you to an age that existed more than one thousand years ago."
Oh, I wish I could have been there!!
C R | Texas, USA | 03/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Benjamin Bagby performs this adventure with gusto and awesome stage presence both singing and narrating--more like heralding--in Anglo-Saxon (Old English) this majestic masterpiece. His resonant voice, modulating now high, now low; now loud, now soft; his dramatic emphasis, his gestures, the inner joy written on his face as he weaves this captivating tale are absolutely enthralling.

In my mind's eye I see we are transported back in time and circumstance to some rustic Germanic mead hall on a long, deep winter's night with the icy wind howling outside, a reminder how close danger and death are in this dark Urworld. We relax around the fire just after the victory feast adjusting our swords and chain mail, with the women and children at our sides and with ram's horns full of frothy brew and listen to the bard celebrate courage, bravery and sacrifice.

A spectacular glimpse into the beginnings of the English language!"
Undeniably Powerful
Robert D. Watson | | 08/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You'd think that watching 98 minutes worth of a guy sitting in a chair and speaking a language that you can't understand would lose the viewer's interest in about 5 minutes...with this movie, it's just not happening.

Bagby's voice is powerful, emotive, and varied. His facial expressions tell the story just as well as the subtitles, if not better, and his harp melodies are gorgeous. The bonus interviews give good insight into the origins of this performance and the incredible amount of work that must have gone into creating such a deceptively simple show.

I've watched this movie three times in the week since I've had it, and it still has my attention. This is an undeniably powerful performance, and one that no theater fan should be without."