Lí Ultimo dei Vikinghi  (The Last Viking )  (1961) 

 

 

 

Director:     Giacomo Gentilomo. 

Starring:     Cameron Mitchell (Harald),  Edmund Purdom (King Sveno),  Isabelle Corey (Hilde),  Hťlne Rťmy (Elga),  Aldo Bufi Landi (Londborg),  Andrea Aureli (Haakon),  George Ardisson (Guntar),  Carla Cal (Herta),  Nando Tamberlani (Gultred),  Corrado Annicelli (Godrun).

Norwegian Vikings try to overthrow the tyrant Sveno.

 

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

 

Harald pilots a Viking ship. With Harald is his younger brother Guntar. They come upon a foreign ship. The Vikings use grappling hooks to bring the ships together. The Vikings pour onto the ship killing the soldiers.

They save an ambassador from Denmark to the Norwegian King. Harald says that there is no king of Norway and if there were he would be his father. They think they can get a heavy ransom for the ambassador.

As they near home they wonder why the villagers do not blow the welcoming horn. They land and find their village destroyed. Even the Temple of Oden is destroyed. At old man is found. He tells the brothers that their father is dead. Harald wants to know who did this. The answer is Sveno. During Haraldís absence he proclaimed himself King of Norway. He invited his father to his castle and there traitorously killed him. And until Harald has avenged his father, the former king cannot enter Valhalla. His father was killed without a weapon in his hand. Guntar cries when he hears this.

The Vikingís trumpeter blows his horn. The message goes out that Harald has returned. The Vikings from all around the area travel to Harald. Guntar intercepts a man on horseback. He finds out that he is Haakon. Guntar tells the man he is just the one his brother has been waiting for. Haakon says he will be at the fjord tomorrow with his people.

Haakon rides to his people to tell them they are going to Vikken. The wife of Haakon encourages her husbandís desire to surpass Harald and Guntar and bee the next king of Norway.

At night the assembled Vikings form a circle around a fire. Harald comes forward to swear to avenge his father; to fight the enemy without pity; and will not quit fighting until he has conquered the crown for his people.

Haakonís wife tells her husband that Harald has called together all his captains and he expects Haakon to be there. When the master whistles, she says, a good dog has to run. For this Haakon knocks her down. He says how can he oppose what is foreordained by the gods? The wife fires back that Harald is a mortal and it is not ordained when he shall die. Her husband goes to join the captains.

Harald is giving instructions to his captains. He lis happy to see Haakon arrives. He calls him over and tells him that his advice will be highly regarded. Harald wants to rebuild Vikken where it stood, but Haakon suggests they rebuild elsewhere. But Harald is more interested in fighting Sveno to the death and he has the men toast to that.

Sveno is told that a large number of Vikings have gasthered together under the leadership of Harald. Sveno laughs saying that Harald is dead. He died at sea. His informant, however, insists that he saw Harald with his own eyes. He was on patrol with others when they were set upon by Haraldís men. The informant was the sole survivor of the patrol. For his good service to Sveno, the King has the informant killed. The King says he doesnít like getting bad news.

Sveno orders the council to meet immediately. They hope go get aid from their ally the King of Denmark. The fiery-tempered Hilde, Sveno's cousin, has been betrothed against her will to the Danish king. Sveno says he will talk with the ambassador from Denmark. He should have been here three days ago.

Hilde tells Eika how she hates the idea of marrying a man she does not love, but she couldnít disobey her cousinís wishes. Itís the price of the alliance with Denmark. Hiled receives the message that Harald is advancing at the head of a large group of Vikings. Erika is thrilled by the idea. She knew of him as a child. He sailed away to the place where the sun sets where he could find the great spirits that form the wind. Hilde does not share her enthusiasm. The man is an enemy and will be pitiless. Erika says no, he is a warrior, brave and generous.

Sveno rails at his council members. They had assured him that the Vikings were no longer a threat to him. And Harald was said to be dead. Sveno decides to send his general out to find and destroy Haraldís forces. Sveno shouts: "I want Haraldís head."

General Hardock thinks he can catch the Vikings by surprise. But it is Harcdock that is got in an ambush. Guntar jumps on the back of Hardockís horse and knocks him off.

Back at camp, the Vikings celebrate their great victory with a feast. Guntar kisses a young woman he likes and then chase after her when she runs from him. Haakon comes back with a prisoner he tortured with fire. He brings him into the camp. The man says to Harald that the Danish ambassador is arriving with men and weapons to destroyed all the Vikings. The Viking men want to kill the prisoner, but Harald stops them. He says the prisoner is a brave man. He asks for and gets the named of the Danish ambassador: Godruno, the same man they previously captured on the ship.

A ship is in sight of Svenoís castle. Itís a Danish ship. Hilde is not happy to see the ship. Sveno comes in to speak with her. Hilde will receive the ambassador.

Instead of the Danish ambassador appearing at court, Harald comes in disguised as Prince Ragmar. Gudruno is an old man and is ill. The Danish King sent the Prince in his place. Hilde makes her entrance and Harald is a bit shocked by her beauty. She welcomes Prince Ragmar.

Haakon frees a prisoner, the Danish ambassador to Sveno. He tells the ambassador to follow the road sticking close to the shore.

Harald as the Prince promises to send 6,000 soldiers to help Sveno. But what if Harald attacks and takes the castle before the Danish troops arrive? Sveno laughs heartily at the very idea. Their archers and catapults would put a stop to any attack. Tomorrow Sveno will show Prince Ragmar around the castle and show him just how impregnable it is.

The Vikings have discovered the prisoner has escaped. Someone is a traitor, says one man. The prisoner was sick and old. He couldnít have gotten free by himself. Guntar arrives. He is very much afraid that the escapee could reach the castle and discover that Harald is there. Haakon, of course, advises the Vikings to take no action, but Guntar rejects this idea. But Haakon convinces the majority that he is right.

After Haakon and the others leave, Guntar tells his friend that Haakon is not their friend. He says that Haakon speaks from jealously of his brother. Follow Haakon and watch every move he makes. Guntar jumps on his horse and rides away.

The King, Prince Ragmar and others go out for a hunt. Hilde is also there. They hunt a black bear. Hildeís horse is spooked by the bear and throws Hilde off his back. Harald is there to kill the bear and save Hilde.

Back at the castle, Erika calls out Haraldís name. She will help Harald on the condition that she bring no harm to Hilde, who has been more than kind to her. Harald sees Hilde and goes to speak with her. Tomorrow they will sail to Denmark. Hilde tells him she does not want to go. She does not want to marry a man who she does not love. She will never know true love. Harald asks her if she would give up a throne for this thing she calls she. She says yes. Harald is impressed.

Guntar runs right into a trap. A rope trips his horse and an archer hits Guntar with an arrow to the shoulder. Guntar is enraged and kills the archer with his sword and the a swordsman. But the remaining troops surround him. Guntar has to surrender.

Svenoís adviser Simon mentions to him that Prince Ragmar has a certain gleam in his eye concerning Hilde. Sveno urges Simon to go with them to watch them. Then he has another, a different idea.

The next day Sveno says that Prince Ragmar will stay in the castle in Norway while the Danes take Hilde to the Danish king. Hilde does not like the new arrangement.

Harald tells his aide that he will take Hilde to Vikken. No one is to touch her. Meanwhile, he himself will escape from the castle this very night. The aide leaves. Harald watches the ship sail way with Hilde. Hilde looks back at Harald.

Erika breaks the news to Hilden that the ship is not going to Denmark, but to Vikken. When Hilde talks with Haraldís aide, she learn that Prince Ragmar is actually Harald. Hilde is upset at being deceived.

Sveno takes Prince Ragmar down to see his newly captured Viking prisoner. It is Guntar, of course. He is alive, but barely says his jailers. Prince Ragmar is shocked to see itís Guntar. His brotherís hands are nailed to a large X. Sveno demands to know where is Harald, but Guntar says nothing. Sveno knocks Guntar out by pushing his head against the wood.

The Danish ambassador arrives at court. He immediately tells the guards to put the imposter in irons. The guards grab Harald, but he gets away from them. He then starts killing guard after guard. He makes his way down to his brother. He closes the gate behind him. He then uses his sword handle to take the nails out of the wood and his brotherís hands.

The guard start hacking away ast the wooden gate. He frees Harald just before the troops run in. They jump out a window into the water below. Sveno tells his guards that tomorrow morning those two will be brought back to them, by the morning tide.

Haakonís wife tells her husband that Harald has not returned. She says that now Haakon is the chief of the Vikings. Haakon now argues against the plan of Haraldís aide to trade Hilde for Harald. Haakon has Hilde taken to his hut and has the aide arrested. The aide calls Haakon a traitor. But Haakon says that it is the aide who is the traitor.

Harald swims to shore holding onto his brother. He makes it to shore, but Guntar is already dead. He cries over his brother.

Haakon says Harald and Guntar are dead. A brave man speaks up to say that they should wait for a sign from Oden. Haakon says no more waiting. He is their only chief and everyone owes their obedience to him.

At this moment Harald comes in carrying his dead brother. He comes over to Haakon and lays his brother down. Harald knows that Haakon is the traitor. He grabs a sword and walks to Haakon. Haakon draws his sword, but Harald is there to slay him.

Hilde and Erika watch Guntars funeral pyre burn. The next morning Harald comes to Hilde. Hilde asks him if he has come to gloat. He says that the would be in his rights to cut off her head and send it to Sveno. But, he tells her to go, she is free. His vendetta is not for women. And then Hilde should leave for Denmark before it is too late.

Hilde starts to leave, but says: "And if I stayed?" He stops her and says that at the castle she told him that she would give up a crown for love. He tells her: "I will give you both." He kisses her and she kisses him.

Preparations are made for battle. Hilde is down by the stream in the warning with Viking maidens. She calls for Erika to come down to the water. As Erika runs down she is shot in the back with an arrow. Svenoís archers kill all the women, except for Hilde. The men capture Hilde.

Sveno is furious with his cousin. She stands up to him saying that Viking is the man I love. And she refuses to go to Denmark. Sveno slaps her knocking Hilde to the floor. Sveno tells her she will die slowly, little by little. She will beg him to kill her.

In the darkness the Viking ships bring their warriors near the castle. The farmers see the troops coming and run for the castle. As the Vikings approach the castle, Simon says they are crazy to try to take the castle. The archers open fire. The catapults heave huge rocks at the Viking attackers. The Viking push an enclosed device near the castle. They then launch burning logs onto the parapets of the castle. The soldiers flee in panic from the burning logs.

And now Sveno becomes very afraid. Harald gets onto the parapet. He is soon followed by more and more Vikings. The fight is on. Harald fights his way to Hildeís locked room. He breaks the door down and save her. She is very happy to see him.

Simon is killed. Harald now comes for Sveno. Sveno tries to run from him. He starts to shout in fear. He picks up a spear to hurl at Harald, but Harald nails him in the chest with a great hatchet throw. Sveno staggers over to his throne and then keels over dead onto the floor.

The castle burns. Hilde is now at the side of Harald as they prepare for the voyage back home.

 

It's an o.k. movie.  But as for history and accuracy forget it.  The quality of the picture was not good.  But the movie did keep my interest.  I don't think I would have watched the movie if I was not doing this movie project, but I don't regret watching the film.  Cameron Mitchell is good and Isabelle Corey is pretty.  That's not so bad. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

See The Vikings (1958).

 

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