Mel Gibson to Direct a Viking Movie

VikingsLast Monday Variety reported that Mel Gibson is going to direct a Viking movie with Leonardo DiCaprio set to star. The screenplay is by William Monahan. The project will be financed by Mel Gibson and Graham King.
The Viking film is expected to begin shooting in fall 2010. Before it happens, Gibson will star in How I Spent My Summer Vacation, a Mexican prison drama. Even earlier, we’ll see him in Edge of Darkness and Jodie Foster’s The Beaver. As for Leonardo DiCaprio, in 2010 he stars in Nolan’s Inception and Scorcese’s Shutter Island.
Gibson’s Viking movie project is very promising. Indeed, when a top notch filmmaker, who won Best Director and Best Picture honors for Braveheart, directs a new period drama set in the Viking Age context, it is a good omen. DiCaprio, with his blue eyes, blond hair and great artistic talent, can be easily imagined as a Norse Viking warrior. It is interesting that Gibson’s Viking project is the first time when Gibson and DiCaprio are working together. As it seems, the connecting link for that project is Graham King: he produced both Edge of Darkness (with Gibson) and The Departed (with DiCaprio, and with Monahan as the screenwriter).
Mel Gibson’s previous movies, Braveheart, set in the 13th century, The Passion of Christ, first century, and Apocalypto, 16th century, all show his great ability in directing period dramas. According to Graham King, the new Viking movie “will be an awe-inspiring story.” All this shows great promise, indeed. However, I cannot help but worry about it. The last more or less decent Viking film that can be mentioned is The 13th Warrior (1999) with Antonio Banderas as Ibn Fadlan. Despite its obvious goofs and weaknesses, this movie remains one of the favorites with all those who are interested in the Norse cultural and historical heritage. Neither Outlander nor Pathfinder reached even that level. Both Severed Ways and Valhalla Rising are disastrous.
William Monahan, who is writing the screenplay for Gibson’s Viking movie, also wrote 2005 Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott. Academics criticized the plot saying that peaceful relationships between Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem, as they can be seen in the movie, never existed. Crusader historian Jonathan Riley-Smith even stated that “nonsense like this will only reinforce existing myths.” Paul Halsall defended Ridley Scott and remarked that the filmmaker was “not writing a history textbook.”
Vikings are not as hotly debated as Christian-Muslim relationships. However, also in a Viking Age story, “not writing a history textbook” is not a license to “reinforce existing myths.” We know that myths about Vikings are no less enduring than myths about the Crusades. To be sure, William Monahan’s task in connection with Mel Gibson’s Viking movie is very challenging.
No tresses, horned helmets and double axes go without saying, but a few things to focus on should be mentioned:

  • By all means anachronism should be avoided. Vikings cannot wear 16th century Spanish helmets, as they do in The 13th Warrior. Pekin ducks that waddle around in Pathfinder were not introduced to the Americas until 1873.

  • The language has to be treated carefully. Be it Old Norse or any other dead or even non-existent language, it should be handled carefully; it is disgusting when people take a passage from Caesar and say it is a medieval charm. Inviting Paul Frommer to design a language for Na’vi people in James Cameron’s Avatar is a very good example of responsible approach.

  • Both fantasy and mockumentary do not seem to be justified in a good Viking movie; demonic Vikings in Pathfinder look like Nazgûl from Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Vikings in Valhalla Rising look real but the film is just boring.

Would you like to state what you expect from Mel Gibson’s forthcoming Viking movie? Do not hesitate to leave comments below.

Photo courtesy Steve & Jemma Copley. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.

55 comments… add one
  • Mitchell Womacks

    Is there any new news about this film? It is now almost summer solstice 2014 and I haven’t heard anything more about this…

    • Viking Rune

      No news about this project, Mitchell.

  • Andrea

    I find it very strange that the 13th worrior seem to be attributed much historical value. First of all, that movie is certainly not and secondly, there are lots of great icelandic movies that prove much more historically correct.

    Have americans really never heard Hrafn Gunnlaugsson? He’s made many very famous vikingmovies, the most famous (and best to my liking) is the number one classic “When the raven flies”. The sequel “In the shadow of the Raven” can also me mentioned.

    Apart from those Gunnlaugsson also made “The white viking” and the most recent movie is “Myrkrahöfðinginn”.

    Being swedish I find these movies much better depictions of the viking age, than Hollywood makings like The 13th Warrior. Look mister Gunnlaugsson up!

    • Viking Rune

      Thanks, Andrea. I have seen “The White Viking” but not the other movies you mention.

  • Eric Peterson

    Saw a couple of myths being trotted out as facts in this thread. Vikings had long hair if they were freeborn? The saga’s document that my ancestor Harald Fairhair cut his hair short after he united Norway since he swore not to cut his hair until he could unite the country. Also many of the Vikings were Christians. My ancestor King Olaf was a christian king and lost his life in battle fighting rebellious pagan vikings becasue he refused to perform the old blot sacrifices. Also another ancestor Harald Bluetooth introduced christianity to his people. It just depends upon the time and place of the setting as to how much of a role christianity or norse mythology plays in the saga.

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Eric. Yes, many Vikings were in fact Christians.

  • Brian Brynjolf Bicknell

    The New Viking Movie is Titles Berserker properly because it will be as bloody as you seen before I mean this is a Viking room right haha.
    Mel said Quote Berserker will be “real and visceral”.
    I feel that Mel will be Nicolas Winding Refn‘s 2009 Viking movie, Valhalla Rising for realistic and action as with Mels past movies Mad Max action packed. Plus Mel has been in war movies with gun swords you name it. Passion of the Christ was realistic as they spoke Latin and Hebrew in the film. Brave Heart’s writer Randell Wallace will be adding his style by writing the Berserker script with Mel.
    This movie is still alive and moving forward. Keep a eye out for this one!

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Brian. No news about the Berserker prject, even if alive…

  • Leif Taylor

    FINALLY! yes, the 13th warrior was the best yet, but like anyone who knows a little about norse history. VIKINGS DID NOT WEAR HORNED HELMETS! why? becasue they would have been akward during battle. duh..think about it. Pathfinder? more like joke finder. the only truth in that movie was that there was this one viking named leif erikson who did land in north america 1000 a.d. and he did encounter indians… but their numbers were greater and more than likely they could not fend them off. Outlander was decent but the sci fi ruined it, not to mention the vikings in that movie (ron perlman) had celtic accents? wtf? some films just do not capture the important fine details that amount to a lot in the end. I am excited because mel gibson is an artist and i am assuming he will not leave himself open to be criticized by semi-experts like me who are also famous like he is. My only concern would be leo dicaprio. he is a great actor no doubt, but his size is not intimidating. It is well known that the norse kind herald hadrada was over 6 feet tall, lets hope he isnt playing him. king olaf was the hitler of his day so leo doesnt fit that one either. I am confident this is the movie that will peak the norse trend.

    • Brian

      The 13th Warrior is a good movie, but Mel new Viking movie will be a lot better and a lot harder to understand. It will be in Norse and old English the English that the Vikings, Norse, Anglo- Saxons would have spoke.

      Viking might have worn horns helmets I mean lets think about it. They is horns as mead cups, Horns knife handles ect. The word Horn is Norse and Byk is Cow monster or beast.
      The cow was loved by the Norse World. The cost it would take to make a horned helmet would be out of the average viking sight.

      Pathfinder was a movie that makes viking look bad. It just shows how unrealistic Hollywood can be.

      Mel is dropping leo dicaprio because well I think he would be a poor choice in this move. I know what you mean but I do not think Mel will get Jay Cutler to be King Olaf lol. They have talk that The techno Viking would be good for the movie. Google Techno Viking if you want to know what I mean. Some possible actors are as follows Ralf Moeller played in Far Cry and Charlie Hunnam Green Street Hooligans and Sons of Anarchy.

  • jake bolton

    as a decendant of vikings & watching gibson movies…..i say show the true side….how true the vikings were 2 the gods as to each other as kinmen…hail odin….let the epic take part & show the world true warriors as they were…leanardo i liked him in man behind the mask ….very good actor i think he will do well….for all use viking hearted warriors hail 2 u all….come sit at the table of warriors in valhalla

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Jake. Yes, it would be great to make a movie showing Vikings as true warriors.

Leave a Comment