Nowadays, films are having a large spike of superhero films. That could be just a fad, or it could be something that is going to stay. Some topics are not like that. Some are endless. When it comes to films where the Viking warriors are the main characters, they could be a part of any genre - historical, romance, fantasy,... There is almost no topic that couldn't be done through the Viking perspective. In the sea of those movies, we are going to go through some of them. We are going to tell you which are the best Viking films.
Valhalla rising may not be the most famous movie on this list, but, for starters, it was made in Denmark (the language used in the film is English). It tells the story of One Eye (wink-wink), played by Mads Mikkelsen and the Viking boy who travel together. Their little band joins a group of crusaders who are traveling to the Holy Land. This movie combines war movies and fantasy, and it will take you on a mystic journey to unknown lands. It connects both the Viking discovery of America, Viking mythology, and Christian Vikings.
Even though Valhalla rising didn't do particularly well at the box office, it received excellent reviews from critics and a lot of praise for Mads Mikkelsen as One Eye and is one the most mysterious movies done about the topic of the Vikings. The director is Nicolas Winding Refn.
Erik the Viking
The next movie on our list combines elements of comedy and fantasy. It tells the story of the beginning of Ragnarok, a Viking tale about the ending of the world. Young warrior Erik, played by Tim Robbins, decides that life filled with action, rape, and pillage doesn't suit him anymore. He learns from Freya that Fenrir has swallowed the sun and that Ragnarok is beginning, so he decides to assemble a crew and to go and try to persuade the Gods to stop the world's ending.
If you like the Monty Python style of comedy, this film is definitely for you, so don't hesitate to watch it. Some of the best Viking movies are not even that serious.
How to Train Your Dragon
When we talk about the best Viking movies, the animation isn't really the first medium that comes to mind, but this beautiful film is animated. It tells a story of a young Viking Hiccup who wants to follow his tribe's wishes and become a dragon slayer. Everything changes when he manages to capture his first dragon, the dangerous and elusive Night Fury; he understands that he doesn't want to kill him. Young Viking and the dragon become best friends, and he calls him Toothless.
This movie received universal acclaim from critics. The animation in this movie is beautiful and should be watched by anyone who is interested in the Viking age, Viking mythology, and dragons. For this film, it doesn't really matter if you are young or old. How to train your dragon is perfect for the entire family.
This film is from 2007 and is a retelling of the epic poem Beowulf. It tells the story of a Geatish warrior Beowulf who travels to Denmark and meets Viking king Hrothgar. After meeting him, he finds out about the monster Grendel which is terrorizing the king's court. After managing to kill Grendel, Grendel's mother vows revenge upon him, for which she goes through great lengths. She manages to seduce Beowulf. Afterward, king Hrothgar declares Beowulf to be his heir and commits suicide. Beowulf becomes king but is tortured because of his affair and can't truly move on.
This epic of Old English literature is not just a great movie; it is one of the most well-known literary works ever and represents the basis for many English myths and Viking sagas later. Another interesting thing is that the whole movie was done in 3d animation, which makes it even more interesting and compelling to watch.
The 13th Warrior
The 13th warrior and Beowulf were probably two films that could've been done together, mostly because they have more or less the same subject - Beowulf, only from a different perspective.
The 13th warrior is actually a film about Ahmad ibn Faldan, an Arabic poet and well-known scholar of the Viking age who is sent as a punishment to serve as an ambassador to Volga Bulgars, a Viking tribe. There he meets young Viking prince Buliwyf (sounds familiar), and they embark on a travel to destroy ancient evil in king Hrothgar's land. Viking prince takes Ahmad with him because there is a prophecy that the evil will be defeated if the group of 13 goes to destroy it, but one of those 13 must not be a Viking warrior. Ahmad is treated poorly at the beginning of their quest, but the rest of the Vikings soon get to know him better and start respecting him and treating him as a member of their group.
The cast is led by Antonio Banderas in the role of ibn Faldan, and the acting is really great. The Director of the film is John McTiernan, and this film represents the classic film about Vikings, their culture, and their ways.
This is going to be the oldest movie about Vikings on our list. Also, this film doesn't represent the pagan side of the Vikings. At least, it doesn't represent it as the driving force behind the main characters. Viking boy Prince Valiant is a Christian. His parents are the Christian king and queen of the Viking kingdom of Scandia. They are overthrown by Sligon, the Usurper, who is a pagan and follows the Gods of the Viking pantheon. When Valiant is older, he is sent to Camelot to train, where he meets King Arthur's knights of the round table. He trains with them in order to become a knight himself and to have a chance to reclaim his lost homeland one day.
James Mason, Janet Leigh, and Robert Mason lead the cast, while the director of the film is Henry Hathaway. As you may see, prince Valiant doesn't follow the usual trope of Viking films. Vikings and their pagan culture are not shown in any positive way. They are here as the enemy of Christianity and everything that is good in this world. The positive outlook on the Vikings and their redemption will start later.
Here we have a little different story which follows the Viking expeditions to North America, where one of their own stays behind, grows up with Native Americans and fights against his kin when he grows up. The stories of contact between Native Americans and Vikings are very rarely found in modern cinematography.
The star of this movie is Karl Urban, playing the main character Ghost, who is the only survivor after the group of Native Americans attacks and kill the rest of his raiding party. The director is Marcus Nispel.
The Vikings (1958)
This film is maybe the first that in some way brings to the romanticization of Viking life, culture, and religion. Also, it is probably the first time that someone has made a film about the famous Viking warrior, Ragnar Lothbrok. The film has, for the first time, started the worldwide interest in Vikings, which lasted for the next couple of years. It follows the story of Ragnar, his fight against king Aella, and his friendship with Ecbert. There are, of course, very large differences from the saga, but the story, more or less, follows the adventure that is well known to everyone.
This movie is a film which is considered to have started an era of several Viking movies, known mockingly as "Norse operas". For some time, they have started an era of interest in Vikings and have popularised some well-known Viking markings, such as the long ships. The movie stars Kirk Douglas, Janet Leigh, and Tony Curtis. The director of the movie is Richard Fleischer.
Now, we will explore a little bit of sci-fi. It is the subject that is rarely connected to the Vikings. This movie starts with a ship, but not the Viking ship, but the space ship which lands on Earth in the iron-age Scandinavia. The plot of the movie is again somewhat connected to the poem Beowulf.
Outlander, which stars Jim Caviezel as the protagonist, is a fun turn on the whole franchise of Viking movies, and if you're ready to experiment, this one is for you. The director is Howard McCain.
Everyone has heard of the Thor franchise. Even though it doesn't follow a typical Viking movie plot, it gives us some insight into Norse culture and tradition. Thor himself is the main character in three Thor movies, but Thor, as a part of the Marvel universe, stars in all Avengers movies alongside the rest of the ensemble.
The role of Thor is played by Chris Hemsworth, while his brother Loki, who is with him in almost every movie as a frienemy is played by Tom Hiddleston. Whoever hasn't watched the Thor franchise, it's not too late. Watch them now, and don't miss the marvels of the Marvel cinematic universe.
You may be interested in our Thor Hammer range.
Even though this isn't a movie, none of the movies or tv shows have popularized the Vikings as much as this tv series did. It follows Ragnar Lothbrok since he was a young man before his fame and before he became the most famous warrior in the world. The tale of Ragnar and his warriors begins in a small fishing village - Kattegat (the location is purposely left vague so that no one would be sure if it is in Norway, Denmark, or Sweden). He and his wife Lagertha live peaceful lives and dream of greatness and of the lands across the Pacific. Ragnar manages to gather a raiding party, and they travel to the west and land in England. This is the first step that will take him to the immortal land of Valhalla, where only the mightiest warriors dwell. This epic series is filled with action, and it follows the Norse warriors through most of the Viking age.
All parts of Ragnar's life are shown - his ascent to power, his fighting in England, Viking travels all over Europe, as well as Viking culture, tradition, and religion. This TV series is one of the most important works of the art regarding Vikings and the most influential thing regarding Viking culture since Vikings themselves. The interest in Norse religion grew very extremely and almost came to the point of rivaling interest in Greek and Roman mythology, which were up to that point unsurpassed. This series stars Travis Fimmel in the role of great Ragnar Lothbrok, and the show's creator is Michael Hirst.
There are many stories about Vikings. They were told through books, sagas, and tales. In these modern times, a story about anything, not just the Vikings, is usually told as either a movie or a tv show.
The point of this text is that there is a lot to find in any medium. It is really not important what you prefer. Some people feel comfortable when they are sitting with a book in their hands. The others like to get their information from reading scientific journals and magazines or short and fun articles like this one. Some just like history and books about it. Some like short interpretations told through the course of a movie. Others like to watch lengthy TV series, which will allow them to connect with their heroes on another level and let them follow them through the years. Whichever way feels the best for you, pursue it. If you like Vikings and you'd like to learn more interesting and informative stuff about them, learn.
There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing your knowledge of one topic grows and make you a master of it. Mastering something simultaneously, very convoluted and complicated and extremely fun and engaging as is Viking culture makes you feel very good.
That's it for today. Until some next Viking movie.