Monday, June 22, 2009

A Killer Of Shepherds

Erik The Viking(1989)
Directed by Terry Jones

I forgot how entertaining this was. Not as skillfully directed as Gilliam's fantasy films, but Terry Jones, manages to make a dark, silly, comedy about Vikings trying to reach the afterlife and save the world.
The age of Ragnarok means constant war and pillaging,which is a fine life for a Viking, until Tim Robbins, instead of raping a young village girl, begins to talk with her, but still accidentally kills her.
We later learn Erik is also a virgin, this kill weighs heavily on his mind, and he begins to question why there must be constant violence and chaos, why the sun is always obscured by clouds. He is told by a sorceress played by Ertha Kitt, that the only way to end the dark age is to wake the sleeping Gods in Valhalla.
So Erik (played by Tim Robbins) sets off with a group of fellow Vikings, to find the horn resounding, and save the world (though they are more interested in the chance for more battle than Erik's idealism). Amongst them are a berserker who always goes berserk too early egged on by his demonstrative father who insists on coming along the voyage "so there's at least one Real berserk". To the towns lone Christian missionary who has lived in the village for 16 years and never made a single convert, except for one woman who converted to Buddhism, which to the Vikings is the same thing.
Some of the most clever bits of this movie come from the subtle jokes between cultures, such as the arrival at the actual literal Valhalla, which the missionary can neither see, nor touch, as one character points out "It doesn't exist for him".
So if you like Vikings with British accents, this is for you. It's much more plot driven than a usual Python project, all of whom rightly have small roles, John Cleese, is the warlord profiting off of Ragnarok, while Terry Jones is the oblivious tone deaf king of Hybrazil (aka Atlantis). It's nothing great, but enjoyable and clever. The giant Angler fish, and the sequence when the crew cross over the edge of the flat earth are both impressive.
I watched this with someone who never cared for Monty Python, and they liked it.
You may too.

No comments: