It is the age of Ragnorok and the daily drudgery of conquest,
pillage and rape is getting Erik down, and after accidentally
killing a woman he tries to defend, he seeks enlightenment
from Freya a cave dwelling seer. This is the Dark Age, she
tells him, which will end in an orgy of fighting and destructiveness.
Determined to do something about it, he sets out with a long-ship
full of squabbling warriors to awaken the gods with the Horn
of Resounding so that they may usher in the new era of peace
the Viking never
really received the critical acclaim at the box office it
deserved. While it is far from a great movie, it's nowhere
near as bad as the majority of the original reviews suggested.
At its heart it is a good, solid family movie (if you ignore
the discussion about rape in the movie's opening sequence).
film is packed to bursting with great performances and, as
Terry Jones remarks in the audio commentary, Tim Robbins is
just so poorly cast as Erik... but he works wonderfully in
the role. Other notable appearances include John Cleese, as
the villain Halfdan the Black, and Terry Jones (who just plays
Terry Jones really). The movie also stars Eartha Kitt as Freya,
Mickey Rooney as Erik's Grandfather, Tim McInnerny as Sven
the Berserk, Imogen Stubbs as Princess Aud, and Samantha Bond
as Helga. There are also numerous other British actors, who
you'll notice but might not necessarily be able to put a name
to the face, that turn in great performances.
Jones mentions, in the extras in this collection, that one
of the reasons that this movie didn't do too well at the box
office was that people saw his and John Cleese's names attached
and automatically assumed it would be in the mould of a Monty
Python film. To be honest a lot of this movie does play
like a watered down Python film. In fact you can almost
see the regular Python cast in the various roles. I could
imagine Michael Palin as Sven the Berserk, Eric Idol playing
Snorri the Miserable and Graham Chapman would have made a
wonderful Erik - incidentally Chapman died in 1989, the year
this movie was made. Also Jones reveals in the audio commentary
that he did consider Palin for the role of Erik. So surely
he couldn't have been too surprised when people were expecting
a more Python like movie.
I did find odd was the need to re-edit the film. I haven't
seen it for years, and too be honest could remember very little
of the plot, so I watched the new Director's Son's Cut
version first. Something seemed odd. The narrative didn't
appear to flow right, and there were scenes that made very
little sense - characters cracked quips that seemed out of
place or reacted strangely to situations. Then I watched the
original UK theatrical version (included on this box set's
second disc) and everything made much more sense. I know that
the stories that this movie was loosely based upon were written
for Jones's son, but even if he knows the characters better
than anyone it still didn't explain why he was chosen as the
person to re-edit the movie.
of the key scenes have been moved around and others have been
drastically shortened. Moving around the opening scenes seemed
a very odd choice. Now Erik goes to see the mysterious seer
before we are introduced to his village. It made much more
sense for him to trek off to the caves after chatting with
his father about the state of his people.
a lot of the jokes just don't work any more - mainly due to
the fact that scenes have been shortened too much. This is
ironic really, as Terry and his son give their reasons for
releasing this cut of the movie and one of the most important
issues for them was the comedic timing - oops!
include audio commentary (which is the same on both cuts of
the film, only juggled around a bit); Interview with Terry
Jones and Bill Jones (7 minute featurette on why the need
to re-edit the movie); Picture Gallery; Feature
Reports; Extended Interviews; and Making of
Featurette (which is 30 mins in length and is basically
a "play all" version of the Feature Reports)
extras in this box set really help the viewer understand something
about the making of the movie. For example the main reason
that John Cleese appears is that one of the movie's backers
were German based and they insisted that they would only inject
financial support if Cleese starred. A similar reason was
given for the cameo of Japan's TV star Tsutomu Sekine - if
he didn't appear the movie's Japanese investors wouldn't stump
up the cash.
I couldn't work out why this has been given a 15 certificate
for the DVD release, there's no swearing in it, or sex, and
the extras don't provide any real nasty surprises. Jones was
surprised that the cinematic release received a 12 in 1989,
so I wonder how he reacted when he saw that the DVD had received
a 15 certificate by the censors.
you fondly remember this film, or have never seen it, then
it really is worth getting hold of. And, if your memory of
this is not a good one, then I'd still advise you give it
another look - you may well surprise yourself. It's an entertaining
film with something in it for all the family.