I love Vikings. Quite literally, as I married one. But even before I met my future spouse, I’ve liked me a bit of hairy-man, axe-wielding action (not in the bedroom! My wife Emma is a lady, not an identity-challenged Norseman).

Last night I was alone, as Emma was off to see Eddie Izzard. Wide-ranging tastes in comedy, these Nordics. As I’d been staring at a screen forty centimetres away from my face all day and my eyes felt like small hot stones, I decided to stare at a screen four metres away for the evening. Wanting some cheesy, unchallenging SF entertainment, I plumped for Outlander. I figured I’d put my review up from Death Ray 17. Go read it. I was quite enthusiastic, perhaps too much so, but it has a spaceman fighting an alien space dragon with a bunch of Vikings, all my fave things in one package, and I enjoyed it almost as much again last night.

And then I thought, why not share my top Five Viking movies? Yeah? Yeah? You with me? Let’s go!

5 The Norsemen (1978)

Really rubbish Lee Majors movie about the Viking discovery of America. Awful script, awful acting. Hilariously bad. Had my entire family in stitches when I was a lad.

4 Beowulf (2007)

I really enjoyed this CGI version of the legend. Okay, so technically Beowulf was knocking about before the Viking period proper, but he was still a Norseman.

3 Outlander (2009)

Follow the link to the gushing review above. Don’t want to scroll up? Tsk, here it is again.

2 The Vikings (1958)

Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas AND Ernest Borgnine? You betcha. This historical adventure, based on Edison Marshall’s book The Viking,  is still great despite its anachronistic depiction of England (it’s about three hundred years out), and Curtis’ ever-present New Yoik accent. The musical score raises the hair on my arms.

1 The Thirteenth Warrior (1999)

Emma and I love this film, and watch it frequently together. It’s her favourite. Yet another take on Beowulf, like Outlander (and likewise a flop, maybe I just like shit movies) it has historical Arab wanderer and Norse expert Ibn Fadlan visiting Scandinavia (he never got that far) and fighting a horde of relict Neanderthals (he certainly never did that!). The Thirteenth Warrior had a terrible production history with, among other things, director John McTiernan falling out with Michael Crichton, upon whose book The Eaters of the Dead the film was based. Crichton bumped McTiernan as director, turning it from atmospheric horror to jaunty actioner, complete with new score. The joins are visible, and it’s a shame so much of the story is missing. I would love to see McTiernan’s version of this film, although apparently the footage was destroyed. Even so, it’s great stuff.

There are of course many other depictions of Vikings and Norse culture on the screen. We can’t wait to see the new Vikings TV show. What’s your favourite?

  1. ethanreilly says:

    Gotta’ go with the Thirteenth Warrior there – like you I’ve watched it a ton of times and it never really gets old. Liked the book (Eaters of the Dead) even more, I think.

  2. Michael Grey says:

    Yay, love for The Thirteenth Warrior! I’d also heard the original footage was lost, and that saddens me. The only criticism I have about this movie is its short theatrical run. Some friends and I turned up at the cinema all eager to find it had been cancelled and had to watch Universal Soldier 2 instead. A film so bad it gave people cancer.

  3. besucher says:

    Unfortunately, the link to your review links to error 404… 😦

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