Authors: Neil Gaiman
You took my son, Beowulf. Give me another.
But you are a monster. Your sons are monsters.
And you're a monster too. Part bear, part wolf, all monster. Now, give me a son.
HARD CUT TO:
137 INT. KING BEOWULF'S CASTLE - MEAD HALL - MORNING
CLOSE ON: King Beowulf's face. He's just woken up, sweating and scared, his head next to the tipped-up Dragon's cup.
He looks around, upset, his face and hair sticky with last-night's spilled mead. Then he realizes that it was just a dream.
THANES are waking too -- looks like everyone passed out last night. Bright shafts of sunlight pierce the gloom of the hall. The fire is almost out. Everyone has a hang-over.
King Beowulf gets up, picking up the Dragon's Cup almost absentmindedly as he does so.
My head, Wiglaf. And such dreams. We're not as young as we were, eh?
Bad news, my lord.
King Beowulf is immediately every inch the King and warrior.
What? Friesian ships sighted?
Old Wiglaf shakes his head. He points to the courtyard outsideâ¦
BEOWULF'S POV: The courtyard contains REFUGEES. They are MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN, who are in bad shape -- they are standing, just, although many of the children are being carried. They look at us with hollow, scared, eyes. The nightmare has happened. They are, to a greater or lesser degree, burnt -- they have fled from burning huts and villages. Some of them are carrying treasured possessions they rescued from the flames. They are standing in lines, dumbly.
Beowulf rushes out into the
where the refugees await him.
Who did this?
Who did this
A WOMAN WITH A BABY steps forward. Her name is HELGA.
It came from the sky in the night, my lord. It burnt our houses and farms. I lost my husband in the flames that took our hearth-acre.
I saw our whole village burn. I heard my friends screaming as they died.
I saw it, your majesty, flaming like a comet in the night sky, vomiting fire and smoke.
What is this thing you talk of?
The OTHER BURNT AND DISENFRANCHISED TOWNSFOLK are nodding, now, and repeating, dully, “a dragon”.
(holding the dragon's cup up)
No-one answers. We see Cain among the people, but he stares at the ground, too scared and brutalized to say anything at all.
KING BEOWULF (CONT'D)
I cannot give you back your homes or your loved ones. But I can kill your monster for you.
And then a small child steps forwardâ¦
The dragon spoke to me. After it burned our house. It said that someone had taken its precious prize. Someone had stolen a goblet from its hoard. That was why it was burning the land. It said I had to tell people that.
(a beat, then)
It was creepy.
We look at King Beowulf as the penny drops, and he turns and walks away. The people stare at him, unspeaking, with dead eyes, as their King walks away, holding the dragon's golden goblet.
139 INT. KING BEOWULF'S CASTLE - MEAD HALL - DAY
The Dragon's golden cup smashes into the far wall, where there are a number of objects, including some primitive glass. It hits them with a LOUD CRASH.
We look up from the mess to King Beowulf, his face is set hard.
King Beowulf is standing in front of his wall of souvenirs. The thanes are standing around dumbly, staring at him, nervously, not saying anything.
Then Beowulf begins to pull his souvenirs down from the wall. His bow, his shield, his sword, even the hilt-and-two-inches-of-blade of the Grendel-blade, and the bear-wolf fur cloak. They CLATTER down from the wall onto the floor.
Then he turns to the thanes.
I am going to kill a dragon. Who is with me?
None of the thanes says anything.
What? None of you want glory? None of you want gold?
After a hesitation, Froda steps forward--
I'm with you, majesty.
And with that the rest of them, shamed, step forward.
140 INT. KING BEOWULF'S CASTLE - KING BEOWULF'S QUARTERS - DAY
Ursula is putting King Beowulf's old battle-robe on him, the bear-wolf-skin. It is old, but still magnificent.
I thought you were done with war and battles, my lord.
There is never an end to battle, Ursula. I was sick of war by the time I was seven years old.
But not sick of glory, my lord?
How many men do you know who have killed dragons?
Could not someone else do this?
King Beowulf shakes his head, and seems as if he is going to say something, then changes his mind.
141 EXT. KING BEOWULF'S CASTLE - COURTYARD - DAY
King Beowulf comes out, with guards and thanes behind him. He looks out at the refugees in the courtyard. He speaks loudly, saying:
Does any man or woman among you know anything of this dragon? Where it comes from? What kind of beast it is?
No-one answers. King Beowulf gets angry.
(shouting at them)
Someone must know. Where do we start looking? In the uplands? In the fells? On the moor? If you know anything -- ANYTHING -- tell me. The beast will be sleeping now. These creatures come at night.
He grabs a PEASANT by the neck, pulls him to his feet.
Do you know anything? Do you?
He flings the man to the ground.
His gaze sweeps across the refugees, sitting apathetically in the courtyard. There is a slight scuffling at the far end, and then, awkwardly, Cain gets to his feet, and raises his hand.
He is terrified.
142 EXT. THE GEAT MOORS - DAY
King Beowulf, Old Wiglaf and eleven thanes on horseback are riding along. On the last horse, tied to the horse to stop him falling off, is Cain looking miserable.
It is snowing. Everyone is cold and miserable. Wiglaf spurs his horse, until he is beside Beowulf. Then he says.
We're too old for this. We need a hero.
There are no more young heroes. The age of heroes is over. There's just us.
It doesn't seem fair. I wish that Unferth'd had a son, who could sail across the ocean and kill our monster. Or Hrothgar -- I wish he'd had a son.
Hrothgar had a son. We sailed across the ocean, and we killed him.
(the penny sort of drops)
His motherâ¦she was very beautiful, Wiglaf.
(uncomfortable with what he is being told, changing the subject)
My lord -- your majesty -- Beowulf -- we are old men. Our eyes are dimmed, we are slow, our strength is goneâ¦look at us. We cannot kill dragons.
In answer, King Beowulf draws his bow -- the mighty bow we saw earlier that no one could bend -- and with one flowing, easy movement, from horseback, he raises it, fits an arrow to the string, bends it, and -- barely -- sights it and he looses his arrow.
143 EXT. THE SKY ABOVE THEM - DAY
Far above them, a bird flies, until, hit by an arrow, it tumbles from the sky.
144 EXT. THE GEAT MOORS - DAY
The bird falls to the ground with an arrow through it. Old Wiglaf gapes at it. King Beowulf does not even turn around to look at it. He knows that he is still stronger and faster than any man alive. And he repeats to himselfâ¦
We shall be our own heroes.
145 EXT. THE GEAT MOORS - THE BARROW - DAY
We stand on the clifftop. Cain is pointing.
I fell in through here. But the main entrance is down there.
It will not wake until sunset.
146 INT. THE GEAT MOORS - THE BARROW - DAY
We see the Dragon's face, now, in the darkness. This is the Dragon in Reptile form -- the nightmare face of an elegant, golden dragon, half-way between a T. Rex and a Komodo Dragon. It flexes its claws. Its eyes are open. It is listening. These things have very sensitive hearing.
KING BEOWULF (O.S.)
When it wakes it will come out of its cave. And then we shall kill it.
147 EXT. THE GEAT MOORS - THE BARROW - DAY
King Beowulf is standing, with his bear-wolf cloak on, over his armor. He is holding his shield -- a rectangular metal full-body shield -- and a sword, and he is practising lunging and parrying and moving, practising his swordcraft against the air. He is getting winded and he is sweating and breathing heavily.
Old Wiglaf is sitting nearby, watching him work out. Wiglaf is toying with the giant hilt of the broken sword. He watches Beowulf and then, when Beowulf is winded, he says:
You are not a hero, Beowulf. Not any more. You're an old man.
King Beowulf grunts but says nothing.
It's a dragon. It breathes fire. It destroys whole towns. You're an old man.
King Beowulf says nothing in reply.
never run away from
Only one thing. And she must be dead by now.
148 EXT. THE SEA - SUNSET
We see the sea, CRASHING onto the rocks. It is almost night.
149 EXT. THE GEAT MOORS - THE BARROW - NIGHT
There is a golden glow coming from below them. Suddenly we see, for the first time, THE DRAGON. It rises into the air, a huge, golden creature, wings flapping, long tail curling, and it hovers in the air fifty or a hundred feet above Beowulf & co.
We are utterly convinced by it: this is where our budget is going. This is the dragon. Smoke drifts from its open mouth, smoke and flame.
THE DRAGON'S POV: Beowulf and his men are below us, being buffeted by the wind from our wingsâ¦
Beowulf Grendel-slayer. Greetings.
(shouting to be heard)
Prepare to die, foul beast!
Ooh. Scary. Now, you just hold that thought, and I shall be right back. Something I have to do. Don't go anywhere.
And with a beat of its enormous wings it rises into the sky.
King Beowulf stares at the beast, as it flies away.
Froda and the rest of his men (not Old Wiglaf) begin to laugh and cheer.
You've scared it away! It's scared of you!
Hurrah! The dragon is gone!
Did you not hear what it said?
(a little baffled)
It said n-nothing, Lord. You shouted 'prepare to die', and it flew away.
It spoke to me. It said there was something that it had to do, before we fought. Something it had to doâ¦but what?
Beowulf watches the Dragon vanish into the distance.
150 EXT. KING BEOWULF'S CASTLE - NIGHT
CLOSE ON: Ursula is standing at the top walkway that circumnavigates the castle. Her eyes are trained on something in the horizonâ¦something that is approaching. Something golden that glistens in the light of the full moon.
The various COURTIERS and THANES at the castle suddenly call to arms. There is a flurry of activity as people flee and prepare themselves to fight.
But not Ursula. She knows that the Dragon is undefeatable by them. She has been perhaps awaiting it, or some other monster, her whole life. She inhales, with no fear, almost accepting the inevitable.
And the inevitable happens.
The Dragon exhales and the castle is enveloped in fire.
151 EXT. THE GEAT MOORS - THE BARROW - NIGHT
King Beowulf and his Thanes are where last left them.
Bonstan suddenly points to the horizon.
There is a golden glow coming from ten miles down the shorelineâ¦the castle is ablaze.
And the dragon is coming towards us now through the sky, ROARING and breathing fire. It is the scariest thing we have ever seen. Scarier than anything in “Jurassic Park”.
Beowulf's men scatter for whatever cover they can find. Only King Beowulf holds his position.
The Dragon descends and curls its body, preparing to breathe flame.