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 back 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 is a more recent and more realistic view of the Viking times.
This movie provides examples of:
- Eye Scream: Erik 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.
- 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 Erik, 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 Erik gives him his sword.
- Einar, once he has been stabbed by Erik. He doesn't say it directly but begs Erik for it in silence as he is dying.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Aella chopping Erik's hand off.
- Handicapped Badasses: Erik is unstoppable in the climatic battle, even without his left hand. The same goes for Einar, who lost his left eye earlier.
- 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.
- Prepare to Die: Einar to Erik, before they embark for the final siege.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The siege can be considered as one because of Ragnar's death. And Erik'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.
- Throw It In: During the Viking Funeral scene, a single archer fires a flaming arrow, which hits the mast nearly dead center, followed by others. This was an accident, as one of the archers hired for the scene fired before he was supposed to. The director decided to keep it when he saw how good it looked.
- The Time of Myths: The Vikings believe in Odin and the "Poisoned Sea."
- The Usurper: Aella. He's of royal blood but not the true heir.
- 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 Erik's sword in their final duel and suddenly hesitates to deliver a fatal blow, recognizing the fact that Erik is his brother. Erik 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.