Michael Wood on Beowulf

English on the Box

Broadcaster: BBC4
Year: 2009
Genre: Documentary
URL: http://bobnational.net/record/283322

Review by: Lisa Smalley

This evocative documentary presented by a very enthusiastic Michael Wood, offers an insight into the context of the poem ‘Beowulf’, the history of its original audience and connections with the landscape of Britain.

Considering the Germanic tribes and their strong effect on modern English, students interested in variation and change in English may find this an interesting introduction to medieval literature, with its palpable influence on writers and poets through the ages from Shakespeare and his contemporaries, right up to Seamus Heaney in his 1999 translation of ‘Beowulf’.

Throughout the documentary, there are wonderful spoken examples of Old English as well as some direct translation.  Julian Glover’s ‘one man show’ performance of ‘Beowulf’ in a reconstructed Anglo-Saxon hall is particularly interesting, and footage of this is used throughout the feature to provide not only a synopsis of the…

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