Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Great OD&D Movie: The Vikings

There are many great OD&D movies. But in my experience, the more explicit you make them--such as the two execrable Dungeons & Dragons films--the worse they are. So, among the best are the historical films.

Okay, I admit that I'm biased. I gave Vikings a prominent place in my own game.

This 1958 movie features Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Though I would take issue with the scary and (in my view) somewhat exaggerated Orson Wells introductory narrative (see one of my early blog posts on things Viking here), the movie is wonderful.

See below for a great scene featuring a longboat and fjords:

There's this cliche that 40's and 50's films were black and white in terms of evil vs. good characters. 60's, 70's and more contemporary films are more nuanced, or whatever. That's actually sort of the opposite of the truth.

In the Vikings most of the characters are morally mixed, to say the least, except perhaps for Janet Leigh and her priest, maybe, and of course, the current English king, who's a jerkopotamus to the core. So, the Vikings (represented most forcefully by Kirk Douglas) are literal rapists and murderers, but they also have a certain sense of honor and honesty, unlike, say, the scheming British. And even Douglas does the right thing by the women he loves at the point of death, perhaps sacrificing himself to his sworn enemy.

That's great drama. It's also (I hope) life.


  1. I find it interesting that this is a depiction of the same story as the 'Vikings' series on the history channel.

  2. The Long Ships with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier is very D&D - they're off on some crazy expedition to find a lost ruined monastery in which a giant solid gold bell is to be found. Okay, no monsters, and not so much an adventuring party, but certainly amoral but kinda honorable treasure hunters on a mad expedition.

  3. Another great OD&D movie? Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger.

    This, I must own!