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HOW A BODY OF WORK GOT A PG-13 RATING.

Byline: Glenn Whipp

"Beowulf" originally was going to arrive in theaters in two radically different versions. The PG-13 cut would play in regular theaters while an unrated version would play in IMAX 3-D theaters.

The MPAA shot down that idea, citing the rule that forbids studios from simultaneously releasing different-rated versions of movies. It would cause confusion, the thinking goes.

But, sporting a digitally nude Angelina Jolie and plenty of blood-spurting violence, "Beowulf" still seems to be causing its fair share of bewilderment outside the box-office.

"People can't believe it's not an R," says screenwriter Roger Avary, who wrote the movie with Neil Gaiman. "They walk out of the theater thinking, 'That's not the PG-13 version. That's the R-rated version.' I'm like, 'I'm sorry to disappoint you. But there's only one movie.' "

Adds Gaiman: "If we were using flesh-and-blood people, it might have been NC-17."

Not that the filmmakers didn't tone down a few things. In an early version, the monster Grendel bit off a warrior's head and slowly savored the taste sensation. The decapitation remains, minus about 75 percent of the crunchiness.

Gone, too, are Beowulf's privates. In the scene where he strips nude to fight Grendel, various objects and characters cover Beowulf's ... um ... spear, a la "Austin Powers."

"All the effort not to show Beowulf's penis frustrated me," Gaiman says. "Because it does move the scene into comic territory."

You do still get Angelina in her birthday suit, her body rendered in such a way that she felt compelled to call boyfriend Brad Pitt when she saw it.

"There are certain moments where I actually felt shy," Jolie says. "I didn't expect ourselves to come out as much. I didn't expect it to feel as real, so it was kind of funny at first."

Says Avary: "It's the IMAX 3-D. You see more detail in those nipples than you do in a normal projection. There's more dimension. Plus, we're this close to her ... what would you call it ... her hot spot."

Avary laughs. "The MPAA is going to get a lot of letters on this one.

"It's going to make it a lot harder on the next guy who wants to do motion-capture. 'Why did they get away with murder?' "

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Title Annotation:LA.COM
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 16, 2007
Words:380
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