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
  • yessenia

    Although Leo may not be the most bad ass actor he is infact a good one. I am extreamly exited for this film. Mel gibson can be preachy but that is what makes his films great, he has a point and he delivers.

    • Viking Rune

      Yessenia, to be sure, he delivers.

  • Tyrell

    I thought the vikings in pathfinder looked awsome, it might not be realistic at all but when people saw the movie it was those vikings that stood out amongst it all, when they came in to the screen people were like dang thats bad-a.

    • Viking Rune

      Vikings in Pathfinder are awful. Just awful.

  • wolfgar veirott

    i just hope the mythology stays true and the storyline is grand but obviously not a documentary. i think, if he isnt to old buliwyf from the 13th warrior possibly could have played a better viking leader or mels best friend from braveheart also in kingdom of heaven though hes a red head. hollywood could change that haha who do you think could make a better cheiftan?

    • Viking Rune

      Yes, it is interesting if mythological themes might be included.

  • wolfgar veirott

    if one most be made i think mel would be a good choice for director though i agree leo is a poor choice to play a main viking. norse men were some of the toughest men ever to walk this earth and lets face it leos a sissy. but who knows. personally im proud of my heritage and am kind of sick of the mainstream hype thats newly found its way to vikings further exacerbaiting its downfall into serious misinterpertations and exploitations. but it is about time a good one is made. its very rarly vikings are portrayed as the good guys or none bloodthirsty monsters!

    • Viking Rune

      Yes, Wolfgar, it is quite about time to produce a good Viking movie!

  • Renee Vincent

    I second that, Viking Princess! Mel Gibson is the perfect director for such a movie! Any word if this is still going forward? I heard it’s not and I was very disappointed…

    • Viking Rune

      Yes, he would be perfect for a movie about Vikings.

  • Viking Princess

    Any news about the this Viking movie since all od the Mel Gibson drama? I would love for him to be able to make this movie.

    • Viking Rune

      No news as for the film… the project seems to be suspended.

  • Aron

    Mel does a good job with period pieces, Its clear that he will do his homework and create a film that’s as realistic as possible and as close to what history dictates. Another words, it will be good I’m sure.

    • Viking Rune

      I agree with you, Aron.

  • Annette McChesney

    Mr Gibson esq has a very good proven track record when it comes to period drama. He more or less re wrote the history books with Braveheart and as a Scot, i was very happy with his use of poetic licence. Apocalypto on paper was a hot potato! how could the viewer be expected to sit through a long period drama in Mayan? and still make money! The end result for me was a totally unbelievable film, which never fails to amaze me as i re-watch it. I will not focus too much on his personal reasons behind his other dead language epic, as i do not go to the cinema to be a possible born again christian, as a result of watching the son of God being tortured for my supposed sins. I go to the cinema to be entertained for two hours.
    Gibson in the seat for a viking epic! sounds like a win win situation. He is good actor and well respected in Hollywood. I just hope the gore and violence is not toned down too much. A “15 certificate should suffice to ensure that i get a 9th century warrior enviroment and not the recent Crowe Robin Hood made for TV spectacular , which had a younger audience in mind.

    • Viking Rune

      Yes, Mr Gibson’s period dramas are terrific.

  • Eva Odin Child

    I hope it turns out to be sensible and totally pertaining to true Norse Legends.. One mistake always ruins the entire link of the story. Hope it is as real and true as possible. Hail Odin!

    • Robert

      yes hail Odin :D and hopefully he doesnt use christian religion in this movie

  • S


    I believe in the possibility that Mel Gibson may be responsible for a future descent viking movie, but against that idea is that DiCaprio will be starring in the film, I can´t understand why anyone can say he is a good actor, even if he has been arround in the bussiness for a long time.
    I think he doesn’t look like a possible viking at all, maybe a viking girl. Just look at the Man In The Iron Mask (or whatever that film is called).

    I hope that indeed this movie will be well done, and that DiCaprio won’t ruin it. Maybe even I will star respecting him, Who knows?

    Hope I didn’t make too many mistakes in writing this (I’m not from an english speaking country)

    • Viking Rune

      I think DiCaprio did rather well in The Revenant.

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