The Norseman (1978)

 

 

Director: Charles B. Pierce

Cast: Lee Majors (Thorvold),  Cornel Wilde (Ragnar),  Mel Ferrer (King Eurich),  Jack Elam (Death Dreamer), Chris Connelly (Rolf),  Jimmy Clem (Olif),  Deacon Jones (Thrall),  Kathleen Freeman (old Indian woman),  Susie Coelho (Winetta), Denny Miller (Rauric), Chuck Pierce, Jr. (young Eric), Jerry Daniels (Kiwonga).

 

Very poor movie of an 11th century Viking prince (Lee Majors) sailing all the way to North America in search of his father.  

The year is 1006 A.D.  Twelve year old Prince Eric tells of his journey in search of his missing father, King Eurich.  Eric travels via a Viking ship with his brother Thorvold as captain.  Ragnar, who is accompanied by his son Rauric, is second in command.  They travel west to find the new land where they think King Eurich and his men have disappeared. 

They land and are met by a small hostile band of Indians who kill one of the crew.  They name the new land Vineland for the sweet grape vines they find.  The next day they head up the nearby river. 

Lucky for them, the nearby Indian village is the very village where what's left of King Eurich and his crew are being held as slaves.  (One would think that this would limit the men's value as slaves, but when they  were caught they were all deliberately blinded by the Indians.) 

Under the leadership of Kiwonga, the Indians en masse attack the Vikings again, this time inflicting more casualties.  The Vikings have to retreat to their ship. 

A pretty young Indian maiden, named Winetta, decides to help the Vikings recover King Eurich and his crew. 

The landscape in the movie reveals that it was probably made in north Florida (complete with Spanish Moss hanging from the trees and palmettos) far from today's Canada where the Vikings actually landed.  The plot is really simplistic: get dad back.  There are no sub-plots or side-plots.   And the acting is pretty bad, although to be fair the actors had little to work with.  It's a real dog. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

The Icelandic Norseman Leif Eriksson was the first person of European origin ever to set foot on the North American mainland. He discovered land in present-day Canada:

1) Helluland (probably today's Baffin Island in the territory of Nunavut); he decided not to settle on the land and continue onward;

2) Markland (probably Labrador); Ericson's crew cut down trees and brought them to treeless Greenland;  there were probably later expeditions from Greenland to gather timber;

3)  Vinland (very likely Newfoundland).  There was a Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland.  The only other Viking leader to overwinter in Vinland was Leif's brother, Thorvald Eiríksson.

 

See The Vikings (1958).

 

 

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