Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (27 page)

73 EXT. KING BEOWULF'S CASTLE - BAILEY - DAWN

73

KING BEOWULF, staring in horror…

KING BEOWULF

What. Tell me. What did this?

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 93.

A flood of REFUGEES pours into the castle-keep. They are MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN, all in bad shape…burnt or scorched.

 

A WOMAN WITH A BABY runs into frame. She has wide, terrified eyes.

WOMAN WITH BABY

It came from the sky in the night, my lord! It burnt our houses and farms!!!

MAN #1

I saw our whole village burn!! Children screaming as they died!!

MAN #2

I saw it, your majesty, vomiting fire and smoke!!!

KING BEOWULF

Damn you all. What was it!

OLD UNFERTH (O.S.)

The dragon.

OLD WIGLAF grabs Beowulf by the shoulder and points to…

OLD UNFERTH,

burnt and smoldering, being carried though the castle gate by one of his guards. Unferth's charred hand clutching his cross. Almost mad, his eyes are locked on Beowulf…

OLD UNFERTH (CONT'D)

My son. His wife. My grandchildren. All dead. Burned in the night. But not me. Not me.

KING BEOWULF

You say a dragon did this?

OLD UNFERTH

You had an agreement…and nothing would harm you. But now you have the golden horn…and the agreement is now ended…and my son is dead.

KING BEOWULF

Who said THIS?!!?

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 94.

OLD UNFERTH

Sins of the fathers. That's the last thing I heard…the last thing, before my family was burned alive…the sins of the
fathers
.

Beowulf grabs Unferth and shakes him…

KING BEOWULF

Who!! WHO SAID THIS!!!

Unferth gives him a long crazed look, then says…

OLD UNFERTH

He
did.

King Beowulf and Old Wiglaf lock eyes. Beowulf's face fills with dread…

CUT TO:

74 INT. KING BEOWULF'S QUARTERS - KING'S ARMORY - DAY

74

King Beowulf is standing in front of his wall of weapons: His great bow, shield, sword and wolf/bear skin cape.

 

As he straps on his adorned breast-plate, he gives orders to Old Wiglaf and his THANE OFFICERS…

BEOWULF

Take up positions along the northern edge of the great gorge. That's our only hope…if I fail.

Wiglaf nods. He and his men leave.

 

Beowulf pulls his sword and shield down from the wall, along with a huge bearded ax, a long leather strap is wrapped around the handle.

 

Beowulf is suiting up…becoming a warrior again.

 

The door flies open and Ursula rushes in, tears streaming down her cheeks.

URSULA

(sobbing)

Don't go! I beg you!

Beowulf turns to her and gently holds her face.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 95.

BEOWULF

You are free to go. I release you. Find a good man and bear him children…bear him a son.

URSULA

I don't want anyone else. I want you.

BEOWULF

I'm not the man you think me to be.

URSULA

You're a great man, and a hero. This I know to be true.

KING BEOWULF

Then you're as much of a fool as the rest of them.

Ursula bursts into tears and runs from the chamber.

 

Beowulf turns to see his reflection in a polished sheild. He looks deep into his own tortured eyes. In a half-hearted, pathetic gesture, he lifts his sword and slashes at the air.

 

An ironic CLAPPING ECHOES in the chamber. It's Queen Wealthow, standing in the open doorway.

QUEEN WEALTHOW

Very impressive, dear. But the armor looked better on you when you were younger.

KING BEOWULF

I'm sure it did.

Wealthow approaches the king…

QUEEN WEALTHOW

Why don't you take that poor girl and live out your remaining years in peace…Let some young hero save us.

KING BEOWULF

And start the whole nightmare all over again?

(he shakes his head)

No, I visited this horror upon my kingdom…I must be the one to finish her.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 96.

QUEEN WEALTHOW

Her…? Was she so beautiful, Beowulf? A beauty so costly?

Beowulf nods, then…

KING BEOWULF

Beautiful, and full of fine promises. I was weak. I am sorry…so sorry.

He looks sadly into Wealthow's eyes…

BEOWULF

I have always loved you, my Queen.

QUEEN WEALTHOW

And I you.

They smile warmly at each other, then…

BEOWULF

Keep a memory of me, not as a king and hero, but as a man…fallible and flawed.

King Beowulf pulls his cape on with a confident flourish.

75 EXT. THE GREAT CAVE - DAY

75

Just as it was thrity years ago. King Beowulf and Old Wiglaf, alone, ride up on horses. The horses shy, sensing something. They won't step a foot closer to the mouth of the cave.

BEOWULF

This is the place.

OLD WIGLAF

This is where we came when you killed Grendel's mother…

BEOWULF

You know my Wiglaf, I have no heir. If I'm killed by this demon…you shall be king. I have arranged it with the Heralds…they have my authorization.

WIGLAF

Don't speak of such things, my lord.

Beowulf sighs, a sadness comes over him.

BEOWULF

Wiglaf, there is something you must know…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 97.

Suddenly, with a fury we have never seen, Wiglaf cuts off Beowulf in mid-sentence…

OLD WIGLAF

(shouting)

NAY!!! THERE IS
NOTHING
I MUST KNOW!! You are BEOWULF! Beowulf the mighty! The hero! The slayer and destroyer of demons!!!!

Now let's kill this flying devil where it sleeps, and get on with our bloody lives!!

Wiglaf takes a breath and collects himself. Beowulf stares in stunned silence.

OLD WIGLAF (CONT'D)

Now, do you want me to go in with you?

Beowulf, who is speechless, shakes his head.

OLD WIGLAF (CONT'D)

Good. I'll wait there.

76 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S LAIR

76

King Beowulf emerges from the water, as he did when he was young. It seems bigger and emptier than before. Everything seems further away. We can hear WATER DRIPPING SLOWLY. He looks to the golden horn he's holding in his hand.

 

He SHOUTS something, mouths “Come forth. Show yourself!” But NO SOUND COMES OUT. Then, delayed we hear…

KING BEOWULF

(echoing)

Come forth. Show yourself!

Suddenly, he's walking in EXTREME SLOW-MOTION: His feet hit the water and throw up showers of slow droplets…

 

He looks down. The reflection in the water is that of Young Beowulf. He drops a rock into the water: It ECHOES and BOOMS. When the ripples have stopped, it's his old face staring up at him from the water.

 

Now behind him stand a number of DEAD THANES…men we saw killed earlier. They stand there, pale and bloody corpses, some of them missing limbs. They speak in a ghostly SLOW-MOTION…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 98.

HONDSHEW

Hail Beowulf, who killed the monster Grendel.

THANE #2

Hail Beowulf, who slew Grendel's mother.

THANE #3

Hail mighty Beowulf, the wisest king, and the mightiest.

THANE #4

Hail Beowulf, who left us for dead.

OLAF

Hail the Great King Beowulf, liar and m-m-monster, lecher and f…f…fool.

THE THANES TOGETHER

Hail! Hail! Hail! Hail!

King Beowulf stares at them, speechless, as they tell him the things he would rather not think.

 

He turns to shout at them, but they've vanished.

 

Now, from above, there's a LOUD FLAPPING SOUND…an enormous GUST OF WIND hits Beowulf, almost knocking him down. Then, from inside a dark tunnel…A SOFT MALE VOICE ECHOES…

VOICE (O.S.)

How strange. When I listened at windows and from rooftops to the talk of the mighty King Beowulf, all the talk was of a hero, valiant and wise, courageous and noble. But…you're nothing…an empty nothing.

KING BEOWULF

I am Beowulf.

A TORCH FLAMES in the tunnel, showing us…a thin, beautiful, GOLDEN YOUNG MAN. Average in size, not at all physically imposing, with curled leather and gold straps all over his naked skin. He looks very much like Young Beowulf.

 

Beowulf recognizes the likeness…and shudders, he knows whose son this is.

GOLDEN MAN

You are shit.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 99.

KING BEOWULF

What are you?

GOLDEN MAN

I'm something you left behind…Father!

King Beowulf reacts to this.

KING BEOWULF

Here. Take your damned horn back. Leave my land in peace.

Beowulf throws the horn into the tunnel. It lands at the Golden Man's feet. The Golden Man shakes his head.

GOLDEN MAN

It's too late for that.

The Golden Man slowly presses his naked foot on top of the horn…instantly, the horn begins to melt, forming a pool of golden liquid on the stone floor…then, the molten gold MELDS INTO THE GOLDEN-MAN'S FOOT like mercury.

GOLDEN MAN (CONT'D)

How will you hurt
me
father? With your fingers, your teeth…your bare hands?

KING BEOWULF

Where's your mother. Where is she? Show yourself, bitch!

GOLDEN MAN

Nobody sees my mother unless she wishes…not even me.

KING BEOWULF

This is madness.

GOLDEN MAN

You have a wonderful land, my father. A beautiful home. And women. When I listened at windows, they spoke of your women. Your wise queen. Your pretty bedwarmer. I wonder -- which one do you think I should kill first?

KING BEOWULF

Why? Why are you doing this?

GOLDEN MAN

Because…I hate you, father.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 100.

As the Golden Man walks toward Beowulf…he begins to GROW LARGER, just like Grendel…

GOLDEN MAN (CONT'D)

You have your kingdom and your treasure…your glory and your women. But where was I in your grand plan?

Before Beowulf opens his mouth to answer…

GOLDEN MAN (CONT'D)

If you engraved my hate on every star in the sky, on every grain of sand on every beach from now until the end of time, you would still not have the smallest inkling just how much I HATE YOU!

The Golden Man starts to TRANSFORM…MORPH INTO A GOLDEN DRAGON!!! As his mouth becomes more reptile-like, his/its lips no longer move…this last sentence BELCHES from its throat…

DRAGON-MAN

WATCH AS I BURN YOUR WORLD!!!

HOT, ORANGE FIRE SPEWS FROM ITS MOUTH…but…

 

KING BEOWULF dives into the pool, as flames roil the water…

CUT TO:

77 EXT. THE GREAT CAVE ENTRANCE DAY

77

King Beowulf dives out of the cave! A ball of fire singeing his ass!

 

EVERYTHING RUMBLES, like an earthquake, and then…

 

THE DRAGON ERUPTS out of the earth, scattering rocks.

 

Now we see THE DRAGON. The knotwork that covered the man becomes the scale-patterns of the creature. It's the size of a whale. With huge, golden scales and teeth the size of a man's forearm. Utterly beautiful, utterly terrifying…

 

Wiglaf's jaw drops as he reins his frightened horse…

OLD WIGLAF

Odin's swifan balls!!!!

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 101.

Beowulf leaps on his horse…

KING BEOWULF

It's headed for Herot!!!

THE DRAGON, SCREECHING AND GROWLING, beats its wings with tremendous force…AND BEGINS FLYING…toward a clearing, slowly rising above the treetops…

78 EXT. FORREST

78

BEOWULF rides right beneath the dragon's talon. Ducking and bobbing to avoid getting hit by the its barbed tail, he reaches for the dragon's claw…

 

THE DRAGON climbs above a growth of tall trees…

 

BEOWULF stands on his horse…pulls the bearded ax from his belt and hooks the dragon's talon with its spiked blade. Beowulf quickly unravels the leather strapping and holds it with all his strength as…

 

THE DRAGON rises…lifting Beowulf off his horse…the dragon's razor sharp tail gaffs Beowulf's horse in the belly and sends it tumbling into Wiglaf's horse…Wiglaf goes down…

 

BEOWULF dangles just below the treetops…swinging and flailing from side to side to avoid hitting the trees. He pulls his sword with his free hand and uses it like a machete to hack away the tree limbs…

 

OLD WIGLAF jumps back on his horse and gallops toward the castle…

79 EXT. ABOVE FORREST

79

THE DRAGON ROARS and BELCHES fire as it flies along, incinerating the trees…

 

BEOWULF looks up and sees the “soft spot” in the dragon's neck…every time the dragon breaths fire, this area of thin membrane GLOWS…

80 EXT. ABOVE CLEARING

80

THE DRAGON reaches a clearing and Beowulf can see the gorge in the distance, and the great wood bridge spanning it. The dragon SWOOPS DOWN toward the gorge. Beowulf HEARS a commander SHOUT…

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