Film / The Vikings

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/220px-Vikings_moviep_4355.jpg

Epic Movie directed by Richard Fleischer in 1958 Technicolor, produced by and starring Kirk Douglas, and based on the novel The Viking by Edison Marshall, loosely inspired in its turn by legendary material from the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok and His Sons.

In the 9th Century a Viking raid on Northern England sees the King of Northumbria slain and his wife Enid brutally raped by the Viking King Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine). As Aella (Frank Thring) takes the throne, the queen discovers that she is pregnant with the true heir and arranges for him to be smuggled away for his own protection. Years later, Lord Egbert (James Donald), an English Lord who has betrayed Aella to the Vikings, is locked up by the Northumbrian King, but escapes and is brought up to Scandinavia. There he meets Ragnar's ruthless son Einar (Kirk Douglas), and a slave with a mysterious past named Eric (Tony Curtis). The Englishman conspires with Ragnar to kidnap the Welsh Princess Morgana (Janet Leigh), who is pledged to Aella, and she is brought to Scandinavia by Einar, who quickly desires her for himself, but has some competition in the form of Eric...

Not to be confused with the Vikings TV series, which also borrows a lot to the Ragnar Lodbrok and His Sons sagas but is a more recent and more realistic epic set in the Viking times.


This movie provides examples of:

  • Action Dress Rip: Sort of. Eric rips the back of Morgana's tightened bodice so she can be at ease to row.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Eric was Ogier the Dane in the book and Einar was called Hasting. Kitala was known as Kitti and Bridget was known as Bertha, they regained their original names in the Comic Book Adaptation.
  • All There in the Manual: The Comic Book Adaptation confirms the protagonist's name as "Eric", putting an end to the silly Spell My Name with an "S" that previously plagued this page.
  • Anachronism Stew / Artistic License History:
    • The castle Fort La Latte was built in the early 14th century and fortified during the late 17th century by Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban. 9th century castles didn't look like this.
    • The uniforms and shields of Aella's soldiers were worn during the 12th-13th centuries, not the 9th century.
    • Morgana is brought to Aella on a cog ship. Cogs didn't exist in the 9th century.
    • The fish-shaped piece of metal that is used as a compass.
  • An Axe to Grind: Most of the Vikings fight with axes.
  • Arranged Marriage: Aella has arranged a marriage with Morgana so he can become king of Wales in addition to Northumbria.
  • Bald of Evil: Both sides are Grey and Gray Morality per se, but Aella is easily the most cruel character (perhaps only equalled by Einar), and he's bald.
  • Battering Ram: A massive tree trunk is used by the Vikings to destroy Aella's castle's first drawbridge. It is also used as a bridge.
  • Battle Cry / Big Word Shout: "ODIIIIIN!!!"
  • Beard of Barbarism / Badass Beard: Einar (Kirk Douglas) is the only Viking to not sport one. It doesn't make him any less badass.
    • It does earn him some ridicule from his father.
    Ragnar: This is Einar, my only son in wedlock. He's so vain of his beauty he wont let a man's beard hide it! He scrapes his face all day like an Englishman!
    Einar: Hail Ragnar! And hail Ragnar's beard!
  • Black Best Friend: Sandpiper, the only friend Erik has by the time he's a slave to the Vikings.
  • Boarding Party: Morgana is shipped to Aella on a cog. Egbert provides that information to the Vikings and they decide to attack the ship to take her as hostage. Einar leads the maritime boarding.
  • California Doubling: A French castle was filmed as a Northumbrian one.
  • The Casanova: Einar. He's about to bed a married blonde girl in his very first scene.
  • Child by Rape: Eric is Enid's son. She gave birth to him following her rape by Ragnar.
  • Climbing Climax: The duel at the top of the dungeon.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Courtesy of Dell and ended up being closer to the original Edison Marshall novel at some points.
  • Cool Boat: The Vikings' longships are decorated with dragons or sea serpents as figureheads.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster used on this very page.
    • Morgana is never tied to a mast in the movie.
    • Einar and Eric are shown with the outfits they wear in the final battle, but they look just fine, without their respective handicaps. By the time of the final battle, Einar is one-eyed and Eric has only one hand left.
  • Death Cry Echo: Einar's "ODIIIIIIIIINN!!!", with an actual echo to boot.
  • Dirty Coward: Aella and his right-hand-man try to do a runner when the Vikings storm his castle.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Aella chops off Eric's left hand as a punishment for giving his sword to Ragnar.
  • Duel to the Death: Between Einar and Eric at the end.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Einar sports one after Eric's falcon blinded him on one of his eyes.
  • Eye Scream: Eric orders his falcon to attack Einar, taking out one of his eyes.
  • Fed To The Beasts: Aella's favourite method of execution when he wants to dispose of his enemies.
  • Final Battle: Einar, Eric, Egbert and the Vikings gather for an assault against Aella's castle in the climax.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Some Vikings shout "ODIN!" and charge a pack of Aella's soldiers from a mound inside the castle.
  • Fortune Teller: Kitala, the Vikings' old runes reader.
  • Girl in the Tower: Morgana (Janet Leigh) is praying in the dungeon's chapel during the siege.
  • Give Me a Sword: Both in the form of a Last Request. And both are adressed to Eric, by his brother and his father.
    • Ragnar, as he wants to prepare himself for the afterlife (which means dying sword in hand) before being thrown into Aella's wolfdogs' pit. Aella denies him this right but Eric gives him his sword.
    • Einar, once he has been stabbed by Eric. He doesn't say it directly but begs Eric for it in silence as he is dying.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Godwin. The first thing he does in the film is helping Enid to hide her baby away from Aella.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Aella's wolfdogs tearing Ragnar apart.
    • Aella chopping Eric's hand off.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Aella is as cruel as a tyrant can be, and his enemies are Vikings who Rape, Pillage, and Burn for a living.
  • Handicapped Badasses: Eric is unstoppable in the climatic battle, even without his left hand. The same goes for Einar, who lost his left eye earlier.
  • Hero Antagonist: Einar is Eric's antagonist, but he's still technically one of the heroes.
  • Heroic Bastard: Eric. He's a Child by Rape but he's the closest character the movie has to a true hero.
  • Historical-Domain Character:
    • Aella of Northumbria
    • Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) is loosely based on the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok.
    • Egbert may be based on Ecgbehrt I, who succeeded Aella as a puppet King of Northumbria courtesy of the Vikings. He simply disappears from the film, though, so it's hard to confirm either way.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Aella is thrown into his own wolfdogs' pit.
  • Hollywood History: As per the Anachronism Stew / Artistic License History and Horny Vikings entries.
  • Hollywood Tactics: It's safe to say that real life Vikings avoided storming castles and pitched battles, unlike those of the films.
  • Horny Vikings: While there are little to no horned helmets, every other Viking-related cliché is played completely straight.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty / And Now You Must Marry Me: How Einar treats Morgana.
  • Just Desserts: Aella is fed to his own wolf dogs by Eric.
  • Kick the Dog: Aella chopping Eric's left hand off.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: In one of the most famous scenes in the film, the Vikings subject a woman accused of adultery to "Odin's test". This consists of using thrown axes to cut the woman's braids while she puts her head through the hollow centre of a large target. All the braids getting cut without she being hurt means she is cleared of the charge.
  • Large Ham: Just about any Viking who shouts "ODIN!".
  • The Middle Ages: The movie is set in the 9th century, during The Low Middle Ages.
  • Made a Slave: Eric grew up as a slave at the Viking village.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Einar tries to kill Eric in the final duel in order to keep Morgana for himself. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: The Vikings enjoy hunting with trained falcons.
  • Not Afraid to Die: The Vikings, Ragnar and Einar in particular. The only thing they're afraid of is dying without a sword in their hand.
  • Ominous Fog: The Vikings fear fog, they can't navigate through it and think it can lead them to the "Poisoned Sea".
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Einar wants to kill Eric personally after Egbert has him saved from drowning.
  • Parental Abandonment: Eric was brought to the Viking village on his mother's orders for his safety.
  • Prepare to Die: Einar to Eric, before they embark for the final siege.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Vikings, naturally. Dying without a sword in their hands is not a good option for them.
  • Rain of Arrows: Per 50's Hollywood epics standards.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Vikings' thing, naturally. It happens right at the beginning of the film.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Inverted. In the book this is based on Egbert is the maternal half-brother of Ogier/Eric, here there is no such relation between the two stated.
  • Rightful King Returns: Eric, at the end. He's the only heir of Nortumbria left after he fed Aella to his own dogs, and also possibly rules over the Vikings now that Einar is dead.
  • The Rivals: Einar and Eric. They're rivals mostly over the love (or in Einar's case, "possession") of Morgana, and they have always hated each other.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The siege can be considered as one because of Ragnar's death. And Eric's rampage to reach Aella counts too.
  • Scenery Porn: The Mauranger fjord in Norway and the French castle Fort La Latte in North-East Brittany.
  • Screaming Warriors: The Vikings shout "ODIN!" when throwing themselves in the battle.
  • Secret Legacy: Eric has one : the throne of Northumbria.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Einar and Eric, unknowingly to them until the very last moment.
  • The Siege: The Final Battle is one. The Vikings besiege Aella's castle.
  • Slave Collar: Eric wears one until he's freed by Egbert.
  • The Speechless: Sandpiper is mute.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Eric and Morgana. Eric is a Viking who has just been freed from slavery and Morgana is the princess of Wales. And she is betrothed to Aella.
  • Storming the Castle: The Vikings' assault on Aella's castle.
  • The Time of Myths: The Vikings believe in Odin and the "Poisoned Sea". For some reason, it seems like Valkyries can be heard singing in the sky as Eric is about to drown and Kitala thinks they brought the wind that lowers the tide, preventing Eric from dying.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Aella takes the throne after Edwin's death.
  • The Usurper: Aella. He's of royal blood but not the true heir.
  • Viking Funeral: Probably the Trope Codifier. Einar's funeral longship is set on fire.
  • Villain Has a Point: Early on, Aella accuses Egbert - one of his nobles and a political rival - of being in league with the Vikings and has him imprisoned (with a view to murdering him). It turns out Egbert really has been selling Northumbria out to the Vikings and he continues to do so after he flees Britain.
  • Warrior Heaven: The Vikings believe in the Valhalla, and thus vow to die sword in hand to have a chance to get there.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Einar breaks Eric's sword in their final duel and suddenly hesitates to deliver a fatal blow, recognizing the fact that Eric is his brother. Eric takes this opportunity to stab Einar with his broken sword.
  • You Got Spunk: Einar and Morgana. Einar doesn't mind being spat on and even encourages her to bite and scratch him.
    Einar: If I can't have your love, I'll take your hate!

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheVikings