I’m looking forward to the new Beowulf (which I’ll have a chance to see locally in 3-D), but I still have an unquenchable fondness for this beautiful 1998 animated version. Admittedly it’s just half an hour long and massively overpriced, but it’s more faithful to the original in both letter and spirit than any other version has been, and clearly more so than the new one will be. The new one is Robert E. Howard’s Beowulf, as it were, but the 1998 version is Tolkien’s Beowulf. (Or to put it another way, the new movie – with its “I am ripper, tearer, slasher, I am the teeth in the darkness, I am Beowulf!” business, has the roaring, swaggering feel of an Irish saga like Táin Bó Cúailnge, while the older version has the grimmer, more somber character of an Icelandic saga. An Icelandic hero wouldn’t say “I am ripper, tearer, slasher!”; he’d say something more understated, like “you’ll receive small thanks here.”)
In related news: for an mp3 of Tolkien reading his poem “The Hoard,” inspired by the Beowulf story, go to this page and choose the third file.