Viking lore’s, sagas and mythology are rich in gripping, incredible and entertaining stories. It is therefore not surprising that filmmakers and screenwriters have often looked towards the Vikings for inspiration or entire storylines in their search for the next big blockbuster and money machine.
While History Channels’ hit series about the Vikings is arguably the most successful and well-produced attempt at bringing Viking stories onto the big screen, there are actually quite a few options around. But you will have to be careful in your selection if you are looking to be entertained by Viking stories on your TV. There are quite a few of them that are just poor. Hopefully this blog post will help you navigate around those.
The Vikings – it is a great story
That there are so many Viking movies can to a certain extent be explained by the fact that so many people will have heard of or know a little about the Vikings plus it more often than not are a good story. After all, the stories have been told for more than a thousand years. Thus they will already be somewhat familiar with the theme and all of us will have a very clear image in mind, when we hear the word: Viking.
And yes. I am referring to how you now imagine a warrior wearing a horned helmet, although the helmets with horns are historically incorrect.
However, the stereotypical image that Viking warriors wore horned helmets is actually one error you cannot blame Hollywood for. This popular stereotype is instead a result of 19th century popular culture, when numerous artists and the costumes for Wagner’s opera Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) depicted Viking warriors wearing the horned headgear.
But enough about the helmets – Let’s move on to the topic: Viking movies. There are already plenty of Viking movie lists available on the internet, so instead this will try to sort some of the Viking movies into different categories. I hope that you will find that useful next time you are looking for a movie about the Vikings.
Vikings as Superheroes and in fantasy
Vikings have always been a popular element in pop culture, which the next two movies is a good example of.
The Marvel comic book character Thor have been popular for many years. Thor’s hammer from Viking mythology that returns to Thor after throwing it fits nicely in as a tool for a superhero, who besides his strength and hammer, might not be the smartest superhero around the block.
Both the original movie from 2011 (Thor) and Thor: The Dark World from 2013 are quite good movies and very entertaining. Particularly when compared to a lot of other superhero movies.
Beowulf has been part of popular culture for more than a millennium. The original English(!) poem with the tales of the Viking hero Beowulf have been dated back as far as the 8th century. Most will be familiar with more recent versions of the story as it was depicted in the modern movies Beowulf from 2007 and Beowulf & Grendel from 2005.
Although they are not bad, neither can claim to be very successful. But at the very least, the 2007 version features Angelina Jolie as the mother of the monster Grendel.
Animated Viking movies and cartoons
There are a few animated movies about the Vikings, which I really think are worth pointing out. Admittedly, it might be my inner child speaking but I genuinely find these animated movies extremely entertaining:
Asterix and the Vikings
This movie takes us to Gaul and a visit in a small village that not even the mighty Roman Empire can conquer. As the title of this movie from 2006 reveals Asterix and Obelix meets the Vikings, while it also introduces the Gauls to the modern technology of SMS – of course delivered by carrier pigeon.
Entertaining movie, although too few Romans meet Obelix’ stone monoliths and the teeth of Idefix.
This animated movie is based on a Danish cartoon with the same name and includes two Viking kids, Tjalfe and Røskva, and their friend Quark, who is also the star in his own spin off. The kids adventure takes them through Norse mythology where they meet most of the gods such as Thor, Loke and Odin.
The movie is from 1986, so do not expect animation quality as in modern animations. But the movie quite entertaining, although that might be my inner child speaking.
Off topic: If you are into comic strips it might also be worth taking a look at Dik Browne’s American comic strip Hägar the Horrible. It is based on stripes where the Hero – Hägar – is faced with contemporary challenges put into a Viking environment.
Viking action movies
Sometimes you just want a good action movie with plenty of fights and a little less focus on the story line and how it all matches up to history. Luckily for you, many Viking movies are able to deliver just that – after all, Vikings are known to like a good fight.
The 13th warrior
As an action movie, the 13th warrior is a good movie. It even has the decency of also touching upon some of the other important trades that were parts of Viking society such as trading with other cultures. And there is a bit for the ladies as well, as it stars Antonio Banderas as a diplomat from the orient.
A Viking warrior breaks free and travels with crusaders to the holy land. It is definitely worth a watch as long as you remember that this is the category of Viking action movies, where the story line might not be of the same standard as the action and battles.
I have not seen this movie yet, but it seems like a Viking meets Pocahontas type of movie. It will go on the watch list, although the IMDB ratings are not fantastic. You can check it yourself here.
Hammer of the gods
I clearly remember that I was quite excited when I sat down to watch this movie. When it ended, I was equally excited that it was over. Although it does feature fighting between Viking brothers and a raid in the search for fame and fortune, it is not recommendable at all.
Viking versus alien? Anyone?
Not quite sure where to put
There are also movies that it can be hard to categorize and since it is good to have a catch all category this will be where to find them.
Eric the Viking
John Cleese and Monty Python styled humour combined in the Viking ages. If you like Monty Python you should give it a view – If not, I would suggest staying away.
The ones that was missed
There are many more movies out there about the Vikings but at least the above should give you a good starting point. If you think we missed any movies or you just think we should add others, please let us know in the comments beneath (using Google+ or on Facebook).
We will update the post from time to time once we get around watching some more Viking movies. There are also quite a few Viking movies from the 1960ies and 1970ies and I can only hope they are of a better quality than many other movies from that period.
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