Gli Invasori (Erik the Conqueror or The Invaders) (1961)

 

 

 

Director:     Mario Bava.

Starring:     Cameron Mitchell (Eron), Alice Kessler (Rama), Ellen Kessler (Daya), George Ardisson (Erik, Duke of Helford), Andrea Checchi (Sir Rutford), Jean-Jacques Delbo (Olaf), Franco Giacobini (Rustichello), Raf Baldassarre (Blak), Enzo Doria (Bennet), Gianni Solaro (Ranco), Franco Ressel (King Lotar), Livia Contardi (Hadda), Folco Lulli (Harald, Viking king), FranÁoise Christophe (Queen Alice).

 8th-9th century Vikings attack Britain; it is a loose remake of the American film The Vikings (1958)

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

In the year 786 of the Christian era, near the rocky coasts of England, in the County of Dorset, appeared for the first time three big and long vessels. Blond bloodthirsty giants, were eager to conquer, bent on dominating the island, razing every defense and spreading terror and death. The Vikings invaded Britain. That first disembarkation was followed by many others. And their vessels of monstrous prows and squared sail, inspired terror at their very first appearance. The "Big Iron Axe" was their weapon of choice. And from their cold lands, those ferocious, unbeatable, ruthless pagans, firmly established themselves on those coasts. Small reigns rose, which were getting their power from blood and slavery.

The only king eager for peace and justice was Harald of the Order. For this reason, King Lotar of Scotland appointed Baron Ruthford to negotiate further peace efforts.

The forces of Ruthford attack a Viking village. They ride their horses through the village burning and slaughtering the villagers. One attacker throws a spear that kills two with one throw: a woman and her child. King Harald is fighting off six or seven of the invaders. Harald shouts to Ranco to take the two children Erik and Eron and run away to safety. He says: "My sons will avenge me."

A man says your plan was successful, Ruthford. He then asks: "Now, sir?" Ruthford nods his head. The man shoots an arrow that goes through Haraldís back and sticks out in the front.

Ranco carries the two brothers out into the water to try to get to the Viking ship. He is stopped by an arrow to the back. Another Viking grabs the older boy and proceeds to the ship.

Harald is not dead yet. He gets up and knocks a man off his horse. He grabs the manís sword. Holding the sword up before him, he closes his eyes and falls to the ground. A few of the Vikings make it to their ship. Eron in saved.

The King and Queen come down to the shore. Ruthford tells them that the Viking weed has been uprooted and Harald is dead. The King says that he applauds his triumph, but does not approve of his cruel ways. He caused a great massacre that was unnecessary. The King says Ruthford did not follow his orders The man was supposed to negotiate with Harald and persuade him to leave their soil in return for sole sovereignty of the north seas. The King makes Ruthford give up his sword and relieves him of the command of the military forces. He will appear before the tribunal to answer for his conduct.

An archer sends an arrow through the throat and neck of the King. The archer then starts hitting an already dead man with his axe saying that the man shot the arrow. He says the assassin was feigning death.

The King dies. "Long live the Queen!" The men shout. The Queen finds they young Viking boy Erik crying. He has the mark of a Viking king on his body. She takes Erik as her own. She makes her servant swear that she will tell no one.

Twenty years later in the land of the Vikings. A man and a woman are tied together standing on a platform. Women in robes perform a dance for the crowd. Two blonde identical twins dance out in the middle of the circle carrying swords.

The woman tied up is accused of breaking her vows of chastity that made her the bride of the Viking god Oden. She will die. And so will the man who possessed her. They are the offerings to Oden to placate his anger. Eron speaks up and says this judgment is monstrous. His says his father Harald would have understood their love for each other and would have forgiven them. The womanís father says that he asks for no mercy for his daughter. She has sinned. She has broken her priestess oath. The two will be given to the vultures.

On a bed Eron kisses one of the twins, Daya, passionately. She tells him that she wonít let him risk his life for her . He says to her that when she was born her father consecrated her to the god Oden. It wasnít done of her own free choice. If he could be a king he could marry her and release her from those vows. He says he must and he will become a king.

The Viking leader, Olaf, say itís death to Queen Alice and her subjects. They will join forces with Norway, Sweden and Iceland and crush these British under the stone of their fortresses. Garian says that the men want Olaf to be their leader.  But Olaf says he is too old and too tired to lead. He will appoint a young chief, Eron, the son of the late King Haralad. Garian says Eron is too young and lacks experience. If Olaf canít lead, Garian says he himself will be the leader. Eron takes objection to this. He shows the sign of the king on his chest and says it is right for him to eventually become king. Olaf says they will put it to a vote. The tribal kings shall decide.

Sister Rama sees that Daya is very sad and she asks her whatís the matter. She also asks why Daya has broken the vows that bind them to the gods. Daya says itís because she loves Eron so much and Eron has promised to become king and break the obligation.

The vote is a tie. So they will fight a duel with weapons they make themselves. Eron wins the duel but refuses to kill Garian. He wants Garian to fight for him. Olaf says Garianís life belongs to Eron.

A ceremony is performed to honor Erik. He is declared Duke of Helford, commander of the sea force of Britain. Baron Ruthford says to his aide that the fool fell for it. He says poor Erik thinks he can destroy the Viking fleet. He aide says that Erik doesnít know that his vessel will burn before the fight. The Baron gives the aide money with which to pay the arsonist.

The Queen tells Erik that she will not cry as he leaves for war. Her subjects cannot see her weeping. She is worried about the day he learns the meaning of the symbol on his chest. He assures his adoptive mother that it will not change his love for her. The Viking vessels are working their way over to Britain. On the same sea is Erik and his vessel. A call goes out that an enemy ship approaches. Erik tells his men to prepare the burning arrows. They fire the burning arrows at the Viking ship. The Vikings fire their bows at the British vessel.

The arsonist goes below deck to start the fire. He puts burning oil on the ropes below. The two vessels collide. Garian is shot with an arrow in the back. The Vikings jump onto the British ship to fight. The arsonist comes on deck, but receives an arrow to his side. Both Eron and Erik fight ferociously. Eron calls out for the Duke of Helford and Erik and Eron fight it out. Eron pushes Erik to the deck and he falls through the burning pieces of wood. Eron gives the order to abandon the British vessel. The Vikings give a victory hurrah.

Baron Ruthford tells the Queen they should marry because it would reinforce the unity of their people. The Queen, however, wants nothing to do with him. She tells him to get out. Ruthford leaves, but only to let the Vikings into the castle.  The Vikings move to the throne room. The Queen tells Eron that his vengeance is complete. Eron replies: and without a drop of Viking blood being spilled thanks to Ruthford. He will make Ruthford the ruler in his absence and will take the Queen as his hostage. If they rebel against the Vikings he will send the British their Queenís head. The Queen calls him a barbarian. He tells her that one day he might teach her what itís like to have a real man. She calls him a savage. Turning from her, he tells Ruthford he will regret it dearly if he ever betrays the Vikings.

The Queen travels on the Viking ship. Rama walks along the shore. She finds Erik laying on his back on the shore. He tells her his boat sunk. Erik then asks for her name, but she wonít say. She tells him to go the village nearby where they will help him. She leaves.

Erik goes to the village. A man asks where he came from. He figures Erik is another survivor of a ship wreck. A British survivor on the same vessel tells the Viking that Erik was on the same vessel as he when it hit an iceberg.

Rama brings the queen food. The Queen only wants to have the death sentence. She asks Rama to suggest it to Eron. Rama sees the cross around the Queenís neck, the same one she saw around Erikís neck. She tells the Queen that someone told her it was a talisman, but the Queen quickly tells her that is blasphemy. It is a symbol of their Christian faith.

Rama goes back to the shore and Erik rushes to her. He has been hoping he would find her. She tries to stop him but he kisses her and she accepts. Later Rama tells Erik about the talisman being the sign of Christianity. Erik wants to know who told her that. Queen Alice of Britain, says Rama. He tells Rama that the Queen is his mother. Rama says that she will help Erik free his mother. They will free her during a wedding feast tomorrow. Erik goes to enlist the help of the other Briton.

Erik attends the wedding ceremony. Eron marries Daya. When Erik sees Daya he assumes she is Rama and scolds her for her deceptive behavior. Eron hears the commotion and discovers that the speaker is none other than the Duke of Helford. Olaf says that Erik will be killed tomorrow at dawn.

Rama brings wine for the prisoner. But the Vikings take the jug and drink the wine. Soon the men are all asleep. Rama runs to Erik, but he is still mad at her. She tells him that he mistook her for her twin sister Daya. They kiss. Rama says that his mother is waiting for them at the fishermenís village.

The Queen waits for her son by the boat. The sleeping men are discovered and the alarm is sounded. Rama leads Erik through the forest. Along the way she loses a veil. Daya tells Eron that it canít have been Rama. Eron tells her he will find both of them and put them to death without mercy. Daya cries.

Daya and Erik go into a cave to hide. Eron finds the veil Rama lost. He comes to the cave. They run for it. They go over a bridge made of vines and Eron follows. The bridge collapses and Eron hangs onto a vine. Erik goes back to save Eron. Erik grabs the vine and holds onto it. Eronís men arrive and throw him a rope. They pull him up onto the cliff.

Now itís a race down to the shore. The other Briton sets the fishing vessels on fire. Rama and Erik get into the boat. Eron can only look on as they go farther out to sea. He says he will find them wherever they go.

The Queen comes back. A Scottish baron promises that he and his men and the men of princes are ready to fight for her throne.

The battle begins for the castle held by Ruthford. Erik gets a surprise when he arrives. The Vikings have already landed on their land. And the Vikings outnumber them two to one. Erik says he has an idea.

Daya and Eron are with Ruthford in the castle. Eron says that this time he will kill them all. Erik challenges Eron to fight. They fight with swords and shields. Eron wins the duel. He spares Erik, saying that now they are even. So now they fight each other with their fists. While trying to push Erik off the cliff, Eron notices the Viking symbol. He realizes that it is his brother Erik.  The two return to their troops. Eron says there will be no more fighting because today he has found his brother Erik. Ruthford grabs a bow and arrow and tries to shoot Erik. But Eron pushes his brother out of the way and is hit by the arrow instead. Now the enraged Vikings attack the castle. Ruthford raises the castle gate and threatens Eron that he will kill Daya if anyone attacks the castle.

Eron calls for Erik. He talks about their father and tells Erik not to cry. He tells Erik that he will be king of the Vikings. He tells his men that Erik succeeds him. Eron then says he wants to see Daya. Ruthford tells Daya that she must tell them to leave.  Rama pretends she is Daya. Eron says itís a beautiful dream. She says their dream will come true, that they always will be together.

Erik takes a small group of men to enter the castle and save Rama. If the men outside see the torch go out at the castle, they must attack. Meanwhile, keep banging the drums to hide the sound of their ascent up the cliff. Erik goes up first.   Meanwhile, Ruthford uses the threat of a spider bite to try to scare Rama into submission.

Erik scales the cliff and gets into the castle. He finds Daya. He kills Ruthfordís aide and then a guard who tries to stop him from freeing Daya.  Eron dies. The torch goes out and the men attack. Erik has Daya, but must fight off one attacker after another. The Vikings pour over the battlements of the castle. Ruthford tries to kill Erik but is hit by ten or so arrows.

The Queen watches as the Viking ships leave. Rama and Erik are on one of the ships. On another ship Daya stays with the body of her husband. She lights the funeral pyre which will destroy both her husbandís body and herself.

 

The movie is just o.k.  There is little usable history.  It's a story, what can I say.  Lovers of action movies would love it.  Other than that it doesn't have much to recommend it. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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