Review: Erik the Viking

As a fan of both Monty Python and Viking movies, Erik the Viking should be the ideal movie for me, and to a certain extent, it is. Around half of the Python gang came together to make this spoof on Viking movies.

Written by Marie H.

Erik, a Viking from Norway, leads an expedition to find the Horn Resounding, which when blowed, will take them to Asgard (the mythical place where the gods live and where Viking warriors go when they die) where Erik plans to awaken the sleeping gods so that Ragnarok, the Viking version of Doomsday, can end.

As a dark comedyerik the viking poster much in the Monty Python vein, Erik the Viking is funny, but not always, and not roaringly funny. Only on a couple of occasions did I more than snicker, but in addition there are some delightfully weird and camp sequences that are joyful to watch without laughing. For example, the fight with the Ocean Dragon or the sinking of Hy-Brazil. It’s probably the best Viking comedy out there, since there are so few of them, but even though I roll all over my sofa when I watch the classic Python movies, this one didn’t catch me too much.

On a deeper level, the movie can be appreciated as making a moral statement about choosing something to believe in. On at least two occasions, choosing what to believe in and then act accordingly is the theme of the action, and generally this is also supported by the monk who joined the expedition; he sees things only he can see because he is a converted Christian, and he doesn’t see things that the heathen Vikings see because they don’t believe in Christianity. This aspect of the movie isn’t really about Christianity or Viking gods, but about anything in life that is important enough to choose sides for. One can’t progress if one doesn’t believe in something and fight for it. A common theme in movies, but presented differently here. It’s perhaps also symbolic and not coincidental that it is the monk who saves our heroes in the end, not once but twice – perhaps a way of saying (within the movie) that one needs to believe in something of substance (Jesus) rather than rubbish (heathen gods like Oden and Thor).

In other respects, I think Erik is awfully miscast. He is played by Tim Robbins who is neither funny, sexy, Viking-ish nor cute. Maybe that was intentional? I don’t think so, because the rest of the cast is excellent in all regards, so why shoot above the target by casting someone as indifferent as Robbins?

If Erik the Viking had not been a comedy but an action movie or a drama, it would perhaps had been better. It’s not so much clichéd as some Viking movies, the sets are quite good and the Vikings look like actual Vikings (at least that’s what one thinks) and if you look for details you will find many historical and factual items in both the story and on the visual level. I know teachers have used the movie in Norse mythology classes.

Rated 5 of 10.

Directed by Terry Jones.

UK, 1989.