The opening scene shows the troops of Agamemnon of Mycenae ready to fight against the troops of Triopas of Thessaly. Afterwards, Prince Hector of Troy and his younger brother Paris negotiate a peace treaty with Menelaus, king of Sparta, and celebrate the end of a long and bloody war. Paris, however, is having a secret love affair with Menelaus' wife, Queen Helen, and smuggles her aboard their homebound vessel, much to Hector's fury, as this could lead to war between Troy and Greece. Upon learning of this, Menelaus meets with his elder brother, King Agamemnon of Greece, and asks his help in taking Troy. Agamemnon, who has wanted to conquer Troy for a long time, agrees, since it will give him control of the Aegean Sea. On King Nestor's advice, Agamemnon has Odysseus, King of Ithaca, persuade Achilles to join them. Achilles, who strongly dislikes Agamemnon and his ways, initially refuses, but eventually decides to go after his mother, Thetis, tells him that though he will die, he will be forever remembered.
Beowulf (Ray Winstone) is a legendary Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark with his band of soldiers, including his best friend, Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson). They travel in response to the call of King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins), who needs a hero to slay a monster called Grendel (Crispin Glover), a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength. Grendel attacks Hrothgar's mead hall, Heorot, whenever the Danes hold a celebration there, and Hrothgar was forced to close the hall. Upon arriving, Beowulf immediately becomes attracted to Hrothgar's wife, Queen Wealtheow (Robin Wright Penn), who does not love her husband and reciprocates Beowulf's interest.
Justice (Janet Jackson) is a young woman living in South Central, Los Angeles. She was named Justice by her late mother, who gave birth to her while attending law school. After the shooting death of her boyfriend Markell (Q-Tip), Justice falls into a deep depression. She spends the majority of her time in the house she inherited from her grandmother, with her cat White Boy, only going out to her job at a local hair salon. Justice is a talented poet, she reads many of her poems throughout the course of the film, both to other characters and in voice over.
Set in the year 1950, Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, is exiled to a small island in Italy for political reasons. His wife accompanies him. On the island, local Mario Ruoppolo is dissatisfied with being a fisherman like his father. Mario looks for other work and is hired as a temporary postman with Neruda as his only customer. He uses his bicycle to hand deliver Neruda's mail (the island has no cars). Though poorly educated, the postman eventually befriends Neruda and becomes further influenced by Neruda's political views and poetry.
When Jim Craig and his father Henry are discussing their finances, a herd of wild horses called the Brumby Mob passes by, and Henry wants to shoot the black stallion leader—but Jim convinces his father to capture and sell them. The next morning the mob reappears and Henry is accidentally killed. Before Jim can inherit the station, a group of mountain men tell him that he must first earn the right – and to do so he must go to the lowlands and work.
In 1818 Hampstead, the fashionable Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) is introduced to poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) through the Dilke family. The Dilkes occupy one half of a double house, with Charles Brown (Paul Schneider)—Keats' friend, roommate, and associate in writing—occupying the other side.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1932, Plath developed a precocious talent as a writer, publishing her first poem when she was only eight years old. That same year, tragedy introduced itself into her life as Plath was forced to confront the unexpected death of her father. In 1950, she began studying at Smith College on a literary scholarship, and while she was an outstanding student, she also began suffering from bouts of extreme depression. Following her junior year, she attempted suicide for the first time. Plath survived, and, in 1955, she was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to study in England at the University of Cambridge. While in Great Britain, Plath met Ted Hughes, a respected author, who would later become the British Poet Laureate. The two fell in love and married in 1956. Marriage, family, and a growing reputation as an important poet nonetheless failed to bring Plath happiness. She became increasingly fascinated with death, a highly visible theme in her later poetry and her sole novel, The Bell Jar (1963). After Hughes left her for another woman, Plath's depression went into a tailspin from which she never recovered. She killed herself at age 30.
L'action se déroule à Medicine Bend, une bourgade sur les hauteurs montagneuses du Dakota. Attaquée par des Indiens, la personne chargée du télégraphe a le temps, avant sa mort, d'envoyer un message au fort McClelland. Le colonel Collingwood, le commandant du fort, envoie sur place une escouage dirigée par trois amis : les sergents Merry, Deal et Barrett. Un ancien esclave noir, qui souhaite s'engager dans l'U.S. Cavalry, les suit malgré l'interdiction qui lui en a été signifiée. Une fois arrivés à Medicine Bend, l'équipe ne trouve aucune trace des habitants et sont attaqués par les guerriers de Mountain Hawk.
On the Northwest Frontier of India, circa 1880, contact has been lost with a British outpost at Tantrapur in the midst of a telegraph message. Colonel Weed (Montagu Love) dispatches a detachment of 25 British Indian Army troops to investigate, led by three sergeants of the Royal Engineers, MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Cutter (Cary Grant), and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), long-time friends and veteran campaigners. Although they are a disciplinary headache for their colonel, they are the right men to send on a dangerous mission. Accompanying the detail are six Indian camp workers, including regimental bhisti (water carrier) Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who longs to throw off his lowly status and become a soldier of the Queen.
The film opens with Oscar Wilde's 1882 visit to Leadville, Colorado during his lecture tour of the United States. Despite his flamboyant personality and urbane wit, he proves to be a success with the local silver miners as he regales them with tales of Renaissance silversmith Benvenuto Cellini.
Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), misinterpreting the prophecy given to him by the god Zeus (Niall MacGinnis), usurps the throne of Thessaly by killing King Aristo and most of his family. The infant Jason is spirited out by one of Aristo's soldiers. Pelias encounters one of the king's daughters, Briseis (Davinia Taylor), seeking sanctuary in the temple of the goddess Hera (Honor Blackman) and slays her. Because the murder has profaned her temple, the angry Hera becomes Jason's protector. She, disguised as the high Priestess, warns Pelias to beware of a man wearing one sandal.
The setting is a post-industrial castle that defends the border of an unnamed kingdom. It is terrorized by a demon named Grendel, who kills the castle's defenders, one by one. After fighting his way past several soldiers trying to keep anyone from entering or leaving, the warrior Beowulf offers his help to the castle's king, Hrothgar, who welcomes his help.