Jeff Bridges and Dave Bautista Headline All-Star Cast in New Take on 'Beowulf' Epic

Jeff Bridges will lead the cast as the legendary monster Grendel. (Gage Skidmore)

"Beowulf" is more than the U.S. Army's new cold-weather all-terrain vehicle. It's a centuries-old Anglo-Saxon heroic epic, the story of a loyal warrior who answers a call of duty to help his comrades in arms slay a monstrous, seemingly unstoppable enemy when no one else could. It's easy to see why many modern-day troops trying to embody a warrior ethos might identify with a hero such as Beowulf.

"Beowulf" was first written more than a millennium ago, and it's the oldest surviving poem in the English language, so of course, it's already been turned into a movie (or around 10 movies, actually). According to The Hollywood Reporter, the upcoming film "Grendel," based on author John Gardner's 1971 novel of the same name, will look at the story of the ancient warrior from the monster's point of view -- which is actually an apt interpretation of the story's message to young warriors.

In sixth-century Scandinavia, the renowned warrior Beowulf answers a call for aid from Hrothgar, king of the Danes. Every night for 12 years, a monster called Grendel attacks Heorot, the king's mead hall, and none of the king's other fighters who fought the beast have lived to tell the tale. When Beowulf arrives, he not only agrees to slay the monster, but do it unarmed. Grendel finally attacks the hall during a celebration, and true to his boast, Beowulf defeats Grendel.

Beowulf actually rips off Grendel's arm before cutting off his head. There's a reason Disney hasn't animated this story.

But the poem doesn't end there. When Heorot is attacked by Grendel's mother, Beowulf leads a team to kill her, too. Beowulf returns to his home in Geatland and serves the king there, until the king and his son both die in combat. Beowulf takes the throne and rules until his elder years. When a dragon attacks his kingdom, he rides out to meet this new beast. With help from another knight, he slays the dragon but is killed by its poison fangs.

Beowulf's name literally translates to "Man-Wolf," which implies he can be as much of a beast as Grendel, a side of the great warrior that comes out when he's battling monsters. But Beowulf's ferociousness in combat is also a warning that he can become as much of a monster as Grendel, an appropriate one for any warrior of any era.

Jeff Bridges ("The Big Lebowski") will star as Grendel opposite Dave Bautista ("Guardians of the Galaxy") as the hero Beowulf. Also joining the cast are Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") as King Hrothgar, Sam Elliott ("Tombstone") as The Dragon, Thomasin McKenzie ("Jojo Rabbit"), Aidan Turner ("The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"). Legendary guitarist T Bone Burnett will make the film's original music, and the creatures will be created by the Jim Henson Company.

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