Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (23 page)

 

GRENDEL lets out the SCREAM OF A CAGED HOWLER MONKEY!!

BEOWULF

(holding the door shut on the flailing arm)

Your days of blood-letting are finished, demon!

GRENDEL

Let…Grendel…free!

Beowulf is shocked!!!

BEOWULF

It speaks!!

GRENDEL

I…not…monster here! Kill Grendel…man can't! What…thing are you!?

Beowulf presses the door against Grendel's arm and leans in close to its mangled ear…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 56.

BEOWULF

(almost whispering)

I am ripper and tearer and slasher and gouger. I am the teeth in the darkness and the talons in the night. I am all the things you believed yourself to be.

(louder)

Mine is strength and lust and POWER!

(now yelling)

I AM BEOWULF!!

GRENDEL'S eyes become racked with fear.

 

BEOWULF SMASHES the door with great fury…the iron door frame cutting Grendel's arm like a knife-edge…

 

GRENDEL SHRIEKS!! Its sinewy tendons to begin to SNAP…its bones CRACK!!!

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

Think you now of the Thanes whose lives you've stolen!

For emphases, Beowulf SLAMS the door against Grendel's arm!! Grendel SCREAMS!!!

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

Think of them…

(SLAM!)

as you die…

(SLAM!!)

your demon's…

(SLAM!! SLAM!!!)

death!!!

And with one powerful lunge…

 

BEOWULF SLAMS the door shut!! GRENDEL'S ARM lands on the floor with a satisfying MEATY THUD.

 

BEOWULF stands there, staring at the arm for a moment…when suddenly it grabs his foot. He kicks wildly at it, finally shaking it loose.

 

THE ARM FLOPS around on the stone floor for a few moments like a beached fish and then suddenly seizes into a contorted position of agony.

 

BEOWULF stands against the door, breathing heavily. For the first time, he seems freaked.

 

SEVERAL THANES, swords drawn, cautiously approach the arm.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 57.

WIGLAF pushes himself to the front…

WIGLAF

Grendel's arm! You've done it!

(turning to the other men)

He's done it! He's torn the limbs from the beast! BEOWULF HAS KILLED HIM!!!

They all begin CHEERING.

 

Beowulf wipes the demon's green-black blood from his face.

CUT TO:

41 INT. HEROT - HROTHGAR'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

41

 

Hrothgar is in his bed, wide awake. Wealthow stands by the window anxiously clutching a scarf.

 

WE HEAR the CHEER coming from the mead hall.

 

Hrothgar sits up…

 

HROTHGAR

Is that a cheer? Could that be a cry of victory?

The door suddenly BURSTS open and Wulfgar runs in, eyes glowing with delight…

WULFGAR

My lord! Beowulf has killed the demon!

HROTHGAR

Praise Odin!!

Small tears of joy form in Wealthow's eyes.

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

Call the scops. Spread the word! Tomorrow will be a glorious day of rejoicing!

Wulfgar quickly leaves.

 

Hrothgar walks up behind Wealthow. He puts his hand on her shoulder -- almost a paternal gesture.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 58.

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

Our nightmare is over.

(he slides his hand toward her breast)

Come to bed, my sweet.

Wealthow whacks his hand away.

WEALTHOW

Do not touch me.

HROTHGAR

My kingdom needs an heir. I need a son. It's time you do your duty.

WEALTHOW

How can I ever lay with you…knowing you laid with
her
.

Hrothgar looks very uncomfortable.

HROTHGAR

I should never have told you.

We hear HAMMER BLOWS, rhythmic as sex.

CUT TO:

42 INT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - NIGHT

42

 

CLOSE ON: Grendel's arm is being NAILED into a massive wooden beam in the mead hall

 

BEOWULF wields the massive blacksmith's hammer. Beowulf laughs, strangely, almost maniacal.

 

WIGLAF turns to look at the four dead thanes…laid-out on their shields, covered with their capes. He looks back at Beowulf hammering and cackling. He looks concerned…who is the monster?

CUT TO:

43 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - NIGHT

43

 

Grendel comes stumbling into the safety of the cave, making a DREADFUL, SOBBING SOUND.

 

Grendel falls into the pool, black blood from his missing arm, pumps into the water, until everything is black…then…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 59.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Oh Grendel, my son. My poor son.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S P.O.V.

THE CAMERA comes up from the pool, skimming the surface of the water, gliding toward Grendel.

GRENDEL

Mama…mama…he hurt me…mama..

Grendel is dying -- nearly dead.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

I warned you. You must not go to them…

GRENDEL

He killed me, mother.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

Who killed you, Grendel my son?

GRENDEL

He tore my arm away…it hurts so…Grendel hurts so bad…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S GOLDEN HAND enters frame and strokes its forehead. It's a beautiful hand, with webbed fingers and golden scales, and long golden fingernails.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

I know. Sleep now, my sweet son. Sleep forever. Mother is here. WE SEE GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S GOLDEN REFLECTION…rippling in the water. Is she humanoid? Reptilian? It's hard to tell.

GRENDEL

Mama? He was so strong…so strong. He hurt me.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.C.)

He shall pay, my darling. Who was this man?

GRENDEL

He was…so strong…so…strong…he…his name…
Beowulf--

Her hand suddenly stops stroking Grendel's head.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 60.

The life has gone from Grendel's eyes. They have misted over, like the dead eyes of a rotten fish.

 

EXTREME CLOSE ON: Grendel's mother's lips.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

(with vengeance)

Beowulf.

CUT TO:

44 EXT. HEROT - STOCKADE RAIN DAY

44

CLOSE ON BEOWULF

 

He stands in the pouring rain with Wiglaf, watching a burning funeral pyre. On the pyre are the four bodies of Beowulf's thanes. The CRACKLING FIRE gets LOUDER as the flames consume the dead.

 

Beowulf's 10 surviving thanes are present, along with a few of Hrothgar's subjects.

BEOWULF

They were great warriors.

Wiglaf's eyes begin to tear.

WIGLAF

They died a most foul death.

BEOWULF

They were murdered by a foul creature…from the depths of hell.

Wiglaf takes four daggers out from under his cape…

WIGLAF

I've got their knives. We'll take them home…for their widows.

BEOWULF

They will not be forgotten. The bards will sing of their glory forever.

(Beowulf takes Wiglaf by the shoulder)

Come. Let's drink to their memory. I want you to raise the first cup.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 61.

WIGLAF

Nay, I'm not in the mood for merrymaking. I'll ride down to the mooring, to prepare the boat.

Wiglaf gives Beowulf a look…

WIGLAF (CONT'D)

We still leave tomorrow, on the tide? Do we not?

BEOWULF

(nods)

Aye.

CUT TO:

45 INT. MEAD HALL DAY

45

HROTHGAR is standing on his portable throne, positioned under GRENDEL'S ARM. He's making a speech to BEOWULF.

 

BEOWULF'S THANES, WEALTHOW, UNFERTH AND THE ENTIRE COURT are assembled. The great doors are open, and outside, the rain is POURING down in sheets

HROTHGAR

This hall has been a place of sadness and misery and blood. But today the monster's reign has ended. And we owe thanks to one man and one man alone: Beowulf. Come here, lad.

He puts his arm around Beowulf's shoulders. Beowulf grins out at the crowd. It's hard to believe that this grinning, friendly guy is the same naked lunatic who ripped Grendel's arm off the night before.

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

Beowulf, I love you like a son. With Grendel dead, you
are
a son to me. And a son deserves his reward.

(to thanes)

Come on -- bring it out!

A couple of thanes haul a closed chest though the crowd.

 

YRSA, GITTE and Wealthow, off to one side, stare up at Grendel's arm.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 62.

YRSA

(whispers to Gitte)

They say Beowulf ripped it off with his bare hands.

GITTE

Mm. I wonder if his strength is only in his arms, or in his legs as well…all
three
of them.

Yrsa and Gitte GIGGLE like schoolgirls.

WEALTHOW

Well, after the feast tonight, I'm sure you can find out, Gitte.

GITTE

Me? It's not
me
he wants my queen.

Wealthow looks from one to the other. Yrsa agrees with her eyes. Wealthow says nothing.

HROTHGAR

Opens the wood chest. Then, with a dramatic flourish, lifts the Royal dragon Horn -- the one we saw at the beginning, and hands it to Wealthow.

HROTHGAR

(with a touch of sarcasm)

Why don't you do the honors, my queen?

Wealthow reluctantly takes the horn and presents it to Beowulf.

WEALTHOW

For you…my lord.

The royal dragon horn is very beautiful. It glints and glitters. For a moment, Beowulf is awed: He raises the Horn on high, and the crowd goes wild.

 

Then, suddenly serious, Beowulf raises his hand, and like a politician or a statesman…

BEOWULF

I find it hard to find in my heart the words I should say to thank you, great king. And all of you, I wish you could have been there last night, when I killed the monster. I was asleep when he arrived…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 63.

As Beowulf tells them the story of his genius and ability we TRACK BACKWARDS out into the POURING RAIN…and find…

 

46 EXT. HEROT - STOCKADE RAIN DAY

46

WIGLAF OUTSIDE IN THE STOCKADE

 

He sits on his horse…watching his friends' bodies burn in the CRACKLING PYRE.

 

Then Wiglaf kicks his horse, and gallops off, toward the bridge.

CUT TO:

47 INT. HEROT - LONG HALL - NIGHT

47

Beowulf, the gold chain around his neck and the golden horn on his belt, sits on the dais, watching his SURVIVING TEN THANES with pride as they drink and wench and celebrate their acquisition of dark age bling-bling.

 

Yrsa and Olaf stumble into frame, drunkenly groping each other. Apparently, now that Hondshew is dead, Yrsa has shifted her attentions to a very happy Olaf. He proudly announces to Beowulf…

OLAF

Yr…Yr…Yras here, p…promised to give my helm a wa…wa…waxin'

BEOWULF

Good for you, Olaf.

OLAFY

y..y..you know. This whole Death or Glory thing. The glory part is buh…buh…better.

Beowulf smiles and nods in agreement…ain't that the truth.

YRSA

Olaf! Come on!

Yrsa takes Olaf by the hand and walks him into the shadows, where they kiss. Beowulf gets up and walks over to the kings anteroom.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 64.

48 INT. ANTEROOM SAME

48

Beowulf steps out onto the balcony. In the moonlight, he looks at the Royal Dragon Horn, stroking its surface, tracing the dragon with his fingertip.

WEALTHOW (O.S.)

You are not celebrating?

Beowulf turns to find Queen Wealthow standing in the open doorway. He raises the horn to her.

BEOWULF

I'll never let it go. I'll die with this cup of yours at my side.

WEALTHOW

Nothing that is gold ever stays long. Is that all you wanted?

Beowulf looks at her with the eyes of a man who is sure that he can have whatever he wants in the world.

BEOWULF

Steal away from your husband in the night. Come to me.

WEALTHOW

First driven by greed…now by lust. You may be beautiful, Lord Beowulf, but I fear you've the heart of a monster.

Beowulf is taken aback by her statement. She smiles politely and gives the stunned Beowulf a kiss on the cheek. Then, after a seductive glance she turns and leaves Beowulf standing there alone.

CUT TO:

49 INT. THE GREAT CAVE NIGHT

49

 

CLOSE On Grendel's very dead body, floating on the black water of the cave.

 

Grendel's Mother's claw-like arms glide the corpse in the pool, her reptilian form reflecting in the water.

 

She SINGS WORDLESSLY, a song of mourning, a WOEFUL DIRGE.

 

The once mightly Grendel, now nothing but a small and withered carcass, is laid out on an ancient stone slab.

 

The slab is adorned with pieces of gold treasure and human bones.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 65.

Grendel's Mother breaks off her song…

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