I remember watching Erik the Viking in the nineties and just laughing my ass off. I was just a teenager back then so all the characters and bizarre situations were the focus of my attention. As I got older, I started “getting” all the other, more complex and subtle jokes. The clever and fairly intricate setups that show just how good of a movie this is. You plant the seed of one joke in the first third of the movie and capitalize on it the final third would be a gross oversimplification of the process but I think you get what I’m talking about.
Erik the Viking is an incredibly complex movie that comes off as a breezy fantasy movie with strong comedic elements. You don’t have to look further than themes that are explored here. First of all, within the first two minutes, we get a rape scene. I know this sounds strange for a PG-13 movie, and it is, but the scene is done in such a way it comes off as funny and charming. It’s incredibly subversive, questioning authority and the established ways of both thinking and acting. It’s above all thought-provoking, focusing on critical thinking and common sense of right and wrong.
And then we embark on this epic adventure, sort of an ancient road trip with all kinds of wacky characters. Sven the Berserk is still my favorite after all these years. You can look at his issues with bravery, his father, family legacy and all the other shit to see how this seemingly simple character is actually quite complex. Moreover, Berserkers were real warriors who indeed got into a trance-like state during the battle. This adds another layer to this already engaging story.
After realizing that raping and pillaging are just not for him, Erik the Viking decides to find out why things are the way they are. He climbs the tallest mountain in Norway and speaks to Freya, a wise woman who informs him that they are in a Dark Age, The Age of Ragnarok. To stop it, he must find the horn of resounding, and here, the adventure begins.
You can definitely sense that it’s written by one of the members of the Monty Python crew, Terry Jones. If you’re looking for more of his work, you can start with Life of Brian, a hilarious movie about Christianity. Gotta hand it to those pesky Brits, they sure know how to make this type of a historical comedy. Another great example is the television show Black Adder starring Rowan Atkinson, so you might also check it out.
Apart from being an actor, writer, and director, Terry is also a medieval historian. So, the man really knows what’s he’s talking about. I just loved the whole Hy-Brasil section of the story with Terry playing the king. It shows how authoritarian societies work in the most graphic and cutest way possible. And, of course, this mysterious disappearing island is based on the real mysterious disappearing island of Hy-Brasil.
I also have to mention Alan Lee, a legend among illustrators, best known for his work on Lord of the Rings. And, you guessed it, he was the conceptual designer here. Finally, I don’t think I need to talk much about the cast confidently led by Tim Robbins. Everyone was simply great. So, don’t waste any more time and check out this brilliant and heartwarming movie.
Director: Terry Jones
Writer: Terry Jones
Cast: Tim Robbins, Tim McInnerny, Charles McKeown, Richard Ridings, Samantha Bond, Imogen Stubbs
Fun Facts: Nicolas Cage was the choice for Erik The Viking at one point. The same goes for Sean Connery, Alec Guinness, Bob Hoskins and Jack Lemmon.