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Film / Erik the Viking

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Released in 1989, Erik the Viking is a film written and directed by Terry Jones. The movie follows the adventures of the eponymous Viking, Erik, who one day discovers that he no longer has a taste for the rape-and-pillage lifestyle of ordinary Viking life. Determined to change things, he recruits a band of his fellow Vikings to journey to Valhalla and petition Odin, King of the Gods, to put an end to the Age of Ragnarok. Hilarity Ensues.

The movie stars Tim Robbins as Erik, and features cameos by Eartha Kitt, John Cleese, Mickey Rooney, and Terry Jones himself. Jones took inspiration for the film (but not the film's title) from his own children's book, The Saga of Erik the Viking.

Jones was unhappy with the finished movie, and later supervised a shorter edit, carried out by his son.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: The plot is instigated after Erik accidentally kills Helga, a woman he was trying to save from his fellow Vikings. He goes on a quest then to resurrect her by petitioning the gods.
  • Aerith and Bob: While most characters have Norse names, many copied from the sagas, we meet Ernest and “his fellow misnomer” Jennifer (albeit only in the script.)
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Erik borrows Princess Aud's Cloak of Invisibility and uses it to bravely attack Halfdan the Black's crew, not realizing that the cloak only works on Aud's father, King Arnulf ... and Harald the Missionary. (The fact that they both have a somewhat tenuous grasp on reality may have something to do with this.)
  • Angst: Erik's angst over the death of Helga drives the entire plot.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the time the Vikings reach Valhalla, about half of them have died (and are thus met in Valhalla).
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: At the beginning of the film, Erik refuses to rape a woman in the village he and his fellow Vikings are attacking. She chews him out for it with a rather angry, "Why not?"
  • Atlantis: Called Hy Brasilnote , but is clearly supposed to be Atlantis, even down to the Greek-stylings of the culture.
  • The Berserker: The aptly named Sven the Berserk and his father, the also aptly-named Sven's Dad (yes, that is how the character appears in the credits, although in the script his name is given as Ulf the Maddeningly Calm). Sven's Dad has a funny moment in explaining the philosophy of the berserk (in a funny voice too).
  • Black Vikings: Eartha Kitt as Freya the Norn. Her performance is so well done, though, that most people key to the fact that Eartha Kitt is a black woman playing a Norse soothsayer only after the movie is over.
  • Born Lucky: Leif the Lucky subverts this by being one of the first crew members to die. He then double subverts it by being one of the lucky few to escape from Valhalla with the rest of the gang.
  • Break the Badass: Thorfinn Skullsplitter is a skilled warrior and a killer of many men. He isn't afraid of anything. And when the film needs to convince the audience that Halfdan the Black's forces are feared by all Vikings, it is Thorfinn's reactions they concentrate on.
    Thorfinn Skullsplitter: I feel... strange.
    Ivar the Boneless: Is it a strange sinking in the pit of your stomach? Like you suddenly have to go to the bathroom?
    Thorfinn Skullsplitter: Yeah. That's it. I've never felt like this before.
    Ivar the Boneless: (excitedly) That's fear! I feel that all the time!
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the movie, Sven gets in a duel with Thorfinn for claiming that his grandfather died of old age, and thus is not in Valhalla. When Thorfinn dies later in the movie, Sven says that his grandfather will be waiting for him in Valhalla, and the other says that he won't, for he isn't there. When they make it to Valhalla, Sven's Dad recognizes his father among the fallen warriors, and Thorfinn admits that Sven was right.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Applied selectively. When the Vikings arrive at Valhalla, they demand that Harald the Missionary, who accompanies the Vikings on their quest, admit that all that "Christianity" nonsense he's been going on about for months is wrong. However, because Harald does not believe in Valhalla, he does not see it, while the rest of the crew, who do believe do. This gives Harald the ability to leave Valhalla (As its walls are invisible and insubstantial to him), which enables him to save the rest of the Vikings. Harald also can't see the dragon in an earlier scene.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: This is the reaction of King Arnulf when Erik tells him that Hy Brasil is sinking.
    King Arnulf: Let's stick to facts. There has never been a safer, more certain way of keeping the peace. So whatever's happening, you can rest assured, Hy Brasil is not sinking. Repeat, not sinking.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Halfdan the Black sentences a man to be beheaded, and the man is dragged away screaming for mercy. Then, as he talks with Loki, he sentences a series of other men who had displeased him in some unspecified manner to be killed in a variety of increasingly gruesome ways. Then, towards the end, the last man is sentenced to have his hand cut off. That man thanks Halfdan for his mercy as he's dragged away, and offers you can cut them both off if you want.
  • Dark Is Evil: Halfdan the Black isn't called that because he's dark-skinned, or wears dark-colored clothing. He's called that because he's evil!. And how do we know he's evil? Because his name is Halfdan The Black.note 
  • Deadpan Snarker: Snorri the Miserable. “Perhaps none of us will return!” “Well, that’s much more sensible than just Thorfinn getting killed. Shall we pack now?”
  • Director's Cut: Only in this case, it's officially described as the Director's Son's Cut.
  • Dirty Coward: Loki.
  • Epic Fail: Harald has been proselytizing the people of Ravensfjord for sixteen years, and has not converted a single person to Christianity. He did, however, manage to accidentally convert one woman to Buddhism.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Sven's Dad is never called anything else but "Sven's Dad". Except by Sven the Berserk, of course, who just calls him "Dad". He's even listed as "Sven's Dad" in the credits. To take it even further, Sven's grandfather is listed in the credits as "Sven's Dad's Dad".
  • Evil Overlord: Halfdan the Black.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Harald the Missionary refuses to believe in the Norse Gods and their accompanying mythology, even when he is standing outside the gates of Valhalla! Of course, he cannot see it, or interact with it at all, because he doesn't believe in it. This causes a great deal of frustration for his crewmates, but does turn into an important plot point.
    • Ironically considering the name of the trope, he DOESN’T believe the world is flat.
  • Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Eric's departure speech about all the dangers his crew may face over the course of their heroic quest gets their families to start mourning their deaths before the ship even casts off.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The galley taskmaster.
  • Horny Vikings: This film, being a satire of Viking adventure tales, mines this trope for all that it is worth. It also subverts this trope by strenuously avoiding some elements of it. For example, no one in the movie wears a horned helmet.
  • Hypocrite: Odin goes on a self-righteous screed about how the violence of humanity isn't remotely the gods' fault... immediately before reminding the heroes that anyone who doesn't die in battle gets cast into Hel.
  • Immortal Immaturity: The Norse gods are all played by children.
  • Implausible Deniability: The people of Hy-Brasil insist their island isn't sinking, despite all evidence to the contrary. King Arnulf continues his denial even as the waters rise above his head.
  • I Need No Ladders: The title character, needing to borrow his girlfriend's invisibility cloak, scales the wall to her quarters using a pair of knives. Her first question upon his entering is why he didn't just use the stairs that were right next to the wall he climbed.
  • Ironic Name: Leif the Lucky is actually pretty unlucky, being among the earliest crew members to die when he falls off the ship's mast.
  • Luring in Prey: In one scene, the Vikings see a glowing, swaying globe that they think is the sun (which they've never seen because Fenrir the wolf swallowed it). It turns out that what they're actually looking at is an anglerfish-type lure attached to the great Dragon of the North Sea.
  • Noodle Incident: Harald has never successfully converted anyone in the village to Christianity, but he did accidentally convince a woman to become a Buddhist.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Princess Aud owns one, but it only works on her father, King Arnulf. And Harald the Missionary for some reason.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Some of the heroes die and go to Valhalla. At the end, they try to save their living friends from getting sent to Hel. They come back to life and get to go home with their living friends when Harald blows the horn the final time.
  • King of All Cosmos: Not only are the Norse gods children in this film, they are selfish children who don't want to be bothered and claim to have no control over the mortal realm at all.
  • Lawful Stupid: The mystical island of Hy Brasil is enchanted so that, if even a single drop of blood were to touch the ground, the entire island and everything on it would sink. As a result, everyone living there is completely nice and non-confrontational. And when blood is spilled and the island does start to sink, everyone actively refuses to believe it is happening.
  • Magic Music: Blowing the Horn Resounding once takes you to Valhalla. Blowing it twice wakes the gods. Blowing it a third time returns you home.
  • The Mole: Keitel Blacksmith and his apprentice Loki both fit this trope, though Keitel changes his mind halfway through.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: The names of several notable people from Norse history are used for characters in the movie, including Halfdan the Black, Ivar the Boneless, Thorfinn Skullsplitter, Leif the Lucky, Mord Fiddle, and Olaf Tryggvason.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The woman Erik refused to rape? He ends up accidentally running her through with his sword. He earns a very cutting criticism from her before she dies.
    "Thanks for saving me from a fate worse than death...?"
  • Nobody Ever Complained Before: Halfdan the Black's men are so used to terrifying their opponents into submission that they have no idea how to react when Erik actually starts fighting back. Although their bewilderment is helped by the fact that Erik, convinced he's wearing a cloth that makes him invisible (which only works on the father of the girl he's just slept with), is essentially prancing around in front of them wearing a towel on his head.
  • Non-Indicative Name: While most of the characters get descriptive names (some only in the script), Erik is just “the Viking” throughout (along with Ernest and Jennifer.)
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: The inhabitants of Hy-Brasil. Princess Aud remains barefoot even after she joins the party and travels to snowy areas.
  • Really Gets Around: Erik isn't too happy to find out Aud had sex with five other men in the same week after he lost his virginity with her (thinking she'd been a virgin as well) and she talked like he was her true love. She insists he still is though, not like the other guys.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: This is the default attitude of all of the Vikings, even Erik. They are all shocked... shocked, I tell you... when they find out that no one can kill anyone on Hy Brasil.
  • Rousing Speech: Subverted, as Erik thoroughly botches it. ("And... we may not die HIDEOUS deaths..")
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The aptly named Leif the Lucky is one of the first members of the crew to die... by falling out of the longship.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots of it. Roger Ebert did not care for it:
    The movie looks obscenely expensive, but the money is spent on pointless scenes without purpose or payoff, as for example an interminable storm sequence in which the actors hold onto masts and say inane things to one another while water is splashed in their faces.
  • Shout-Out: The scene of drunks tossing axes at Unn the Thrown-At is blatantly copied from The Vikings.
  • Shown Their Work: Terry Jones — an academic on this stuff — plays with the Norse Mythology but sticks faithfully to a lot of tropes.
  • Spiritual Successor: Despite its lack of most of the Monty Python cast (only Terry Jonesnote  and John Cleese were in this movie) many people think this is a Monty Python film. It has to be said it would stand up well with Life of Brian and The Holy Grail, probably due to Jones's direction style.
  • Stock Foreign Name: Erik (the Viking) and Leif (the Lucky). Averted with the inclusion of Ernest the Viking and Jennifer the Viking (though their names are only in the script and never spoken).
  • Unstoppable Rage: Sven's Dad is constantly on his son's back about how the boy just cannot seem to get up a good head of berserk fury. But when Sven's best friend, Thorfinn Skullsplitter, is killed, Sven lets his fury go full bore.
    • Actually Sven's Dad is constantly on his back because he can't STOP going berserk. Turns out Sven's Dad's Dad kept going on at him for the same thing.
  • Visible to Believers: Harald Missionary, the only Christian in Erik's crew, cannot see the Dragon of the North Sea, the Edge of the World, and the fortress of Asgard, because he considers these things as superstitions. He is even able to walk right through the walls of Asgard, which are perfectly solid for his pagan companions.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sven the Berserker and Thorfinn Skull-splitter. May also count as Heterosexual Life-Partners, based on the pairings in the final scene.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The reason why Loki, Keitel and Halfdan want Erik's quest to fail: if he ends Ragnarok, then the endless wars among men will cease, at which point warlords and weaponsmiths will find themselves underemployed.
  • William Telling: At one point, the Vikings take turns hurling axes at a captured girl's head in an attempt to cut off her braids. (Shout-Out to The Vikings.)
  • You Can See Me?: After the battle with Halfdan's crew, Erik finds out that Aud's Cloak of Invisibility only works on King Arnulf (and Harald), and that he's been visible the entire time. He promptly faints.


Video Example(s):


No; I said, 'DON'T grieve!'

Every quest must begin with a speech, but some leaders are less accomplished orators than others.<br><br>Featuring Tim Robbins and Mickey Rooney as Erik and his Grandfather

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoYeHeroesGoAndDie

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