Top 15 Viking Movies You Need to Watch

best viking movies, best viking films
Monty Python's Erik the Viking

Wouldn't it be nice to remember simpler times, when all we had to worry about was pillaging and drinking? These 15 movies are perfect to help you escape from reality for a bit, so sit back, relax, and let's talk about the 15 best Viking movies you need to see:

15. The Viking (1928)

The Viking is really less about being a Viking and much more about being a Christian. When Lord Alwin is captured as a Viking slave, he is bought by Helga, a Viking woman of “noble blood.” After earning his freedom in a duel, Alwin and Helga confess their love for each other, much to the chagrin of Leif Ericsson, who was promised Helga’s hand in marriage. Leif nearly kills Alwin, but is stopped by his Christian faith, and just at that moment, they arrive in America. 

There is no trailer available, but the entire film can be watched on YouTube!

The Viking is most notable for being the first Technicolor film to feature a full soundtrack. Critics at the time took issue, mainly, with the amount of facial hair shown on screen -- the men of the 1920s preferred to have clean-shaven styles, not sporting whiskers on their faces, damn it!

 

14. Pathfinder 

A young Viking boy is left behind during an expedition and raised by Native Americans, despite a prophecy that death and destruction will follow him throughout his life. He grows up to become a mighty warrior and defends his tribe against the returning Viking invaders -- his own countrymen.

Pathfinder is a movie, at least. It’s got Karl Urban, long before he did The Boys, and that’s about all it has going for it. It is very heavy on the “white savior” trope, the cinematography is a mess, but the choreography and costume design are visually interesting.

 

13. Northmen: A Viking Saga

A stranded group of Vikings race their way across Scotland while being hunted by the king’s mercenaries. Also, they’ve kidnapped the princess but in an endearing way, so she grows to like them too. I’m pretty sure that’s Stockholm Syndrome, but the Vikings are the good guys and the king is bad or whatever, so who cares?

Fun fact: this movie was filmed entirely in South Africa!

 

12. The Viking Sagas (1995)

A young man trains with a disgraced Viking warrior to protect his homeland and loved ones against an invading Viking horde. There’s also stuff in there about prophecies and a magic sword, but mostly the first part.

If that young man looks familiar, you might recognize actor Ralf Moeller from The Scorpion King where he played Thorak. He’s also a former competitive bodybuilder and friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, the Terminator doesn’t show up in this movie -- but comically bad acting and the beautiful Icelandic mountains do!

 

11. Erik the Conqueror

Long-estranged brothers are reunited in battle when war breaks out between the English and the Vikings.

An Italian-French epic tale about two brothers and twin sisters (played by the Kessler Twins), it never went down as a classic, but the old, undeniable charm of a 60s epic adventure tale is still there. It’s only an hour and twenty-one minutes, so it’s not a drag, and at the very least, it’s fun.

 

10. Killian’s Chronicle

Long before Columbus set foot on American soil, a group of Vikings and an Irish slave named Killian became lost upon her shores. Now, Killian has escaped with the magic stone that will guide the Vikings home -- and he has found refuge with a tribe of Native Americans called the Passamaquoddy.

If this sounds similar to Pathfinder, that’s probably because it is. It’s also similar to Dances With Wolves and, by default, Avatar. Unlike Avatar, this movie had next to no budget and rather than relying on “white savior” tropes like Pathfinder, this film attempts to teach Native American lessons about the Earth: that it does not belong to us, and that it does not forget the bad we do to it. 

In that sense, at least, the film is well-intentioned. Its next-to-nothing-budget certainly shows, but overall it’s a valiant effort.

 

9. Outlander

A spacecraft lands on Earth during the Iron Age, carrying two passengers: an alien soldier named Kainan and a hideous creature called Moorwen. Moorwen rampages through the Viking world, attempting to destroy Earth along the way. Kainan teams up with Viking warriors to track down the “dragon” and slay it.

Okay, so this is only kind of a Viking movie. There are Vikings in it, but it’s really a sci-fi movie with Viking skin. That being said, and despite its flaws, this movie is awesome. Karl Urban was in talks to play Kainan, as was Sean Bean, and then there were a bunch of production delays and budget cuts, and they lost the ability to film in New Zealand.

This film deserved much more than it got, and they still managed to make an epic, fun take on Predator meets Beowulf. Is it the best movie you’ll ever see? No. But you’ll have fun watching it.

 

8. The 13th Warrior

Based on the Michael Crichton novel: a muslim ambassador, exiled from his homeland, finds himself in the company of a group of Vikings. As they travel together, they catch wind of an evil force that threatens the Vikings’ homeland -- a force thought to only exist in legend.

Look, it’s from the writer of Jurassic Park, the director of Die Hard, and Zorro. Of course it’s awesome. It’s not a particularly deep or introspective movie, but it’s an old-school adventure film and a solid night when paired with popcorn and soda (and maybe a little rum in it).

 

7. Erik the Viking (1989)

Erik, a Viking with a conscience, decides to quit raiding and pillaging and go on a quest. When Freya informs him that a mythic wolf has eaten the sun and Ragnarok is about to begin, Erik sets out on a journey to Asgard to beg the Gods’ favor.

It’s Monty Python doing Vikings! What’s not to love about that? It’s not on the same level as Life of Brian or The Holy Grail, but it carries the same clever wit and laugh-out-loud gags that Monty Python films have grown accustomed to.

 

6. Prince Valiant (1954)

Exiled from his home as a child, Prince Valiant vows to join King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, defeat the evil King Sligon, and reclaim his throne. 

It occurred to me, when I got to this portion of the list, that many of these films involve a Viking being exiled or lost or somehow separated from his homeland. Weird!

They actually did a version of this movie in 1997 as well, with Katherine Heigl, but it’s not very good. 

There’s something classically wonderful and charming about the 1954 film. Maybe it’s the dorky haircut Prince Valiant flaunts, or I just have a deep love of technicolor, but it’s by far the superior version of the film.

 

5. Beowulf and Grendel

A Danish king recruits Beowulf, a foreign warrior, to battle the vengeful son of a slain troll.

Historically accurate is not the term I would use for this movie, but it is a fantastic adaptation of the epic poem. The cinematography is beautiful as well, and overall it’s a well-rounded film. Honestly, they could have leaned a little more heavily into the mythical elements of the source material, but you can’t go wrong with watching this movie.

 

4. The Vikings (1958)

Unknowing Viking half-brothers, Einar, a warrior, and Eric, an ex-slave, compete for the throne of Northumbria and the affections of captive princess Morgana. 

This is the second movie in this list to feature Janet Leigh. She must have had a thing for Vikings.

Genuinely, this movie is a treat. Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis are, like always, at the top of their game. It’s beautifully shot, excellently staged, and full of epic adventure, swashbuckling, axe-throwing, and ale drinking. Is it historically accurate and gritty? No. It’s very Hollywood -- and very 1950s Hollywood at that -- but it’s such a fun, delightful film that I had to include it high up on this list.

 

3. Beowulf

Beowulf arrives at the court of King Hrothgar and offers to rid the kingdom of the monster, Grendel. In doing so, however, he awakens the wrath of Grendel’s mother.

This might be a polarizing take, but I love this movie. Sure, the animation is a bit “uncanny valley,” and it might not hold up well when compared to similarly done CGI films (like the aforementioned Avatar), but there’s something charming about it. 

It’s also an insanely star-studded cast with fantastic acting, a script by Neil Gaiman that brings an interesting sexy edge to Beowulf’s character, and an all-around wild ride that brings a new interpretation of Beowulf to the screen.

 

2. Valhalla Rising

An ex-slave named One-Eye escapes and joins a group of Crusaders on their way to find the Holy Land.

Nicolas Winding Refn is a weird director. He did Bronson with Tom Hardy, Drive with Ryan Gosling, and most recently The Neon Demon with Elle Fanning. His films are strange, psychedelic trips that explore human fragility and ego, and Valhalla Rising is no different.

Mads Mikkelsen is great, as always, and the rest of the cast are on par. The cinematography is excellent and dark, lending itself well to Refn’s strange narrative and thematic choices. 

 

Overall, it’s an art film set during the Viking ages, and like Refn’s other work, it will leave you in a dark, weird, introspective place after it’s done.

 

1. How to Train Your Dragon (Trilogy)

Misfit Viking, Hiccup, comes from a society where fighting dragons is the norm, but when he befriends an injured dragon that he names Toothless, he seeks to pave a new path for his people.

I lumped all three of these together for two reasons: 1) Of the bunch, there isn’t a bad one, and 2) it didn’t seem fair to have these take up the top three spots on the list. How to Train Your Dragon is a heartwarming, fun, family-friendly series that reinvigorated my faith in Dreamworks studios.

The movies are epic, hilarious, charming, touching, exhilarating, and near-perfect. 

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Born in the Steel City, Austin has a natural weakness to lightning. It would kill him if he were struck by it. Beyond that, he is a dedicated writer, gamer, storyteller, and comedian.
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