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Seductive Simulations

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Beowulf’s New Age of Synthetic Sexuality

Angelina Jolie as Mother, the nude gold-painted dragon woman. Ray Winstone as Beowulf, the naked swordsman. The seductive influence of an attractive woman wearing gold paint.

The most enduring tales from our earliest history are brimming with ghastly violence and wanton sexual conquest. Hollywood has been reminded of the raw origins of heroism by Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary, and Robert Zemeckis, through their visceral retelling of the epic tale of Beowulf.

The visual effects crew have metamorphosed a middle-aged thespian into a Nordic demigod who does battle with gibbering giants in the nude, and transformed a reasonably attractive member of Hollywood royalty into a luminous goddess clothed only in golden fire and azure waters. They are both perfect specimens of inhuman grace and beauty on the movie screen, subtlety — but recognizably — unreal.

How long has it been since such a solidly mainstream film has been steeped in so much blood and lust? Could it be that this thin veneer of digital fantasy is all that is necessary to herald a new golden age of sex and violence in American cinema?

Written by in November of 2007. Last edited May 2017.

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