Erik the Conqueror


1h 21m 1963

Brief Synopsis

Set in the 10th Century, two young sons, named Erik and Eron, witness their parents murdered by the English during a raid on their Viking village. Erik is taken by Queen Anne to England where she raises him as her own son, while Eron lives a bitter life as a recluse. Years later, the adult Eron plots with his Norse allies to attack England while, Erik, an English naval officer, is order to lead an attack against the Norse Vikings where their paths soon cross and the brothers decide to form an alliance to attack Erik's villanious master Sir Rutford.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fury of the Vikings, Invasori, Ruée des Vikings
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
Boston opening: 12 Jun 1963
Production Company
Criterion Film; Galatea; Société Cinématographique Lyre
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor), Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In the 10th century, when the Vikings are defeated by the English forces, Queen Alice of Britain adopts a Viking child abandoned in battle and brings him up as Erik, Duke of Helfort. At the same time, his brother, Iron, grows up to be the Viking chieftain. The two powers clash once more, and Gunnar, Alice's ambitious counsellor, betrays her to the Vikings and in return is awarded Britain's governorship. Shipwrecked in battle, Erik is saved from slow death by Rama, twin sister of Iron's wife, Daja. He returns home to overthrow Gunnar, but the latter is guarded by Vikings. During a duel, Iron recognizes Erik by the tattoo on his chest. Gunnar kills Iron, in the hope that Erik's men will be blamed; his plans, however, are of no avail, for the Vikings unite with the British and slay Gunnar in battle.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fury of the Vikings, Invasori, Ruée des Vikings
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
Boston opening: 12 Jun 1963
Production Company
Criterion Film; Galatea; Société Cinématographique Lyre
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor), Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Erik the Conqueror - Cameron Mitchell in Mario Bava's ERIK THE CONQUEROR on DVD


The official, textbook versions of film history tend to write out the uncategorizable artists, the inconsistent ones and those who left a subterranean influence rather than a string of awards. Such is the status of director Mario Bava, likely to be perceived as marginal despite a recent surge of interest including numerous restored DVD releases and one of the most impressive (and largest) biographies ever devoted to a director, Tim Lucas' All the Colors of the Dark. Naturally any review opening like that is going to argue that the textbook version is only good for textbooks and any wide-eyed filmlover should be rejoicing in the Bavean oeuvre so consider that argued.

Bava's sharp compositional eye and penchant for lush design, whether staged or on location, made him an intriguing stylist even if he rarely had the scripts or overall control to produce masterpieces. Unfortunately it's by a stream of masterpieces that posterity determines who is and isn't worthy and by this reckoning there simply isn't time to work with a director of wayward sensibilities whose films require concentration, and even some indulgence, on the part of the viewer. Perhaps Bava's only unproblematic film is Black Sunday, an evocative, haunting, very loose adaptation of a Maupassant story. But it's hard to ignore work such as Lisa and the Devil, Kill Baby Kill, Danger Diabolik and Planet of the Vampires, none quite as lurid as you might think and each unforgettable in its own way. Perhaps the closest analogue to Bava would be Edgar G. Ulmer, another stylist trapped in low-budget productions spanning a variety of genres or moving further afield comics artist Alex Toth, whose stark, textured images were often wasted on the clumsiest of low-grade narratives.

Certainly a long preamble for 1961's Erik the Conqueror (also known as The Invaders, the actual on-screen title though in Italian) which is clearly a Bava film and even if not one of his top-tier ones it's still undeniably entertaining. Erik was yet another of the swarming ancient world stories that Italy unleashed from the late 50s until it burned out nearly a decade later when the Italian film industry shifted to spaghetti Westerns. Bava himself had done one of the subgenre's highlights with Hercules in the Haunted World (also 1961) which tied ornate visuals and baroquely colorful lighting to an almost-mythic tale to create more or less a prototypical Bava film. Bava may have felt more affinity for the claustrophobic confines of haunted worlds but with Erik he worked nearly as well with open hills, seaside villages, ship battles, a castle and a few caves.

Erik the Conqueror stars Cameron Mitchell and Giorgio Ardisson as Viking brothers separated at a very young age. (Oddly enough the two also played Viking brothers in another film that same year called The Last of the Vikings.) Mitchell grows up to be a Viking leader while Ardisson (as the conquering Erik) was accidentally separated as a child and thought dead by the Vikings though actually raised by the English queen as if he was her own child. Naturally at some point the Vikings and the Brits head into war so what will become of the two brothers unaware of each other's existence? And what will they have to do with two beautiful blonde Viking twins? Not to mention the scheming counselor or the forbidding castle?

Like so many films of this type historical accuracy is irrelevant and probably all the better for that. It's impossible to imagine that, as presented in Erik, Vikings elected their military commander let alone did so by tossing away such prized possessions as their axes. The film also favors us with dances that look like early rehearsals for a Warners backstage musical, animal-skin-clad young lasses exercising their right to essay synchronized gyrations. And wouldn't somebody have noticed that the British queen suddenly appeared with a child, seemingly bypassing any pregnancy?

But so what. Many of these ancient world films (usually called sword-and-sandal or pepla) tend to be talky and predictable but Erik is pleasingly fast (or at least fast-ish) and builds an effectively complex story. In fact with its reversals of fate, scheming secondary characters and romantic affliations it might be a tad too involved but that's not much of a flaw. The cast appears to have had a blast making the film and even if they didn't that's why they're actors. Mitchell and Ardisson turn out a strong sell for the separated-brothers device while even supporting roles such as the old Viking king or the two-faced British villain leave their mark. The blonde Viking twins are played by the Kessler twins, mostly unknown in the U.S. but their singing and variety performances made them minor stars in their native Germany and adopted Italy.

The DVD of Erik the Conqueror is an unusually nice presentation, accurately letterboxed and with a crisp image. Viewers can choose English or Italian audio with or without subtitles; like most non-arthouse Italian films the English dub will be the better choice for most viewers. Bava biographer Tim Lucas provides a detailed commentary and there's an audio interview with Cameron Mitchell. All in all, a surprisingly effective film in an impressive package.

For more information about Erik the Conqueror, visit Anchor Bay Entertainment. To order Erik the Conqueror, go to TCM Shopping.

by Lang Thompson
Erik The Conqueror - Cameron Mitchell In Mario Bava's Erik The Conqueror On Dvd

Erik the Conqueror - Cameron Mitchell in Mario Bava's ERIK THE CONQUEROR on DVD

The official, textbook versions of film history tend to write out the uncategorizable artists, the inconsistent ones and those who left a subterranean influence rather than a string of awards. Such is the status of director Mario Bava, likely to be perceived as marginal despite a recent surge of interest including numerous restored DVD releases and one of the most impressive (and largest) biographies ever devoted to a director, Tim Lucas' All the Colors of the Dark. Naturally any review opening like that is going to argue that the textbook version is only good for textbooks and any wide-eyed filmlover should be rejoicing in the Bavean oeuvre so consider that argued. Bava's sharp compositional eye and penchant for lush design, whether staged or on location, made him an intriguing stylist even if he rarely had the scripts or overall control to produce masterpieces. Unfortunately it's by a stream of masterpieces that posterity determines who is and isn't worthy and by this reckoning there simply isn't time to work with a director of wayward sensibilities whose films require concentration, and even some indulgence, on the part of the viewer. Perhaps Bava's only unproblematic film is Black Sunday, an evocative, haunting, very loose adaptation of a Maupassant story. But it's hard to ignore work such as Lisa and the Devil, Kill Baby Kill, Danger Diabolik and Planet of the Vampires, none quite as lurid as you might think and each unforgettable in its own way. Perhaps the closest analogue to Bava would be Edgar G. Ulmer, another stylist trapped in low-budget productions spanning a variety of genres or moving further afield comics artist Alex Toth, whose stark, textured images were often wasted on the clumsiest of low-grade narratives. Certainly a long preamble for 1961's Erik the Conqueror (also known as The Invaders, the actual on-screen title though in Italian) which is clearly a Bava film and even if not one of his top-tier ones it's still undeniably entertaining. Erik was yet another of the swarming ancient world stories that Italy unleashed from the late 50s until it burned out nearly a decade later when the Italian film industry shifted to spaghetti Westerns. Bava himself had done one of the subgenre's highlights with Hercules in the Haunted World (also 1961) which tied ornate visuals and baroquely colorful lighting to an almost-mythic tale to create more or less a prototypical Bava film. Bava may have felt more affinity for the claustrophobic confines of haunted worlds but with Erik he worked nearly as well with open hills, seaside villages, ship battles, a castle and a few caves. Erik the Conqueror stars Cameron Mitchell and Giorgio Ardisson as Viking brothers separated at a very young age. (Oddly enough the two also played Viking brothers in another film that same year called The Last of the Vikings.) Mitchell grows up to be a Viking leader while Ardisson (as the conquering Erik) was accidentally separated as a child and thought dead by the Vikings though actually raised by the English queen as if he was her own child. Naturally at some point the Vikings and the Brits head into war so what will become of the two brothers unaware of each other's existence? And what will they have to do with two beautiful blonde Viking twins? Not to mention the scheming counselor or the forbidding castle? Like so many films of this type historical accuracy is irrelevant and probably all the better for that. It's impossible to imagine that, as presented in Erik, Vikings elected their military commander let alone did so by tossing away such prized possessions as their axes. The film also favors us with dances that look like early rehearsals for a Warners backstage musical, animal-skin-clad young lasses exercising their right to essay synchronized gyrations. And wouldn't somebody have noticed that the British queen suddenly appeared with a child, seemingly bypassing any pregnancy? But so what. Many of these ancient world films (usually called sword-and-sandal or pepla) tend to be talky and predictable but Erik is pleasingly fast (or at least fast-ish) and builds an effectively complex story. In fact with its reversals of fate, scheming secondary characters and romantic affliations it might be a tad too involved but that's not much of a flaw. The cast appears to have had a blast making the film and even if they didn't that's why they're actors. Mitchell and Ardisson turn out a strong sell for the separated-brothers device while even supporting roles such as the old Viking king or the two-faced British villain leave their mark. The blonde Viking twins are played by the Kessler twins, mostly unknown in the U.S. but their singing and variety performances made them minor stars in their native Germany and adopted Italy. The DVD of Erik the Conqueror is an unusually nice presentation, accurately letterboxed and with a crisp image. Viewers can choose English or Italian audio with or without subtitles; like most non-arthouse Italian films the English dub will be the better choice for most viewers. Bava biographer Tim Lucas provides a detailed commentary and there's an audio interview with Cameron Mitchell. All in all, a surprisingly effective film in an impressive package. For more information about Erik the Conqueror, visit Anchor Bay Entertainment. To order Erik the Conqueror, go to TCM Shopping. by Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Copyright length: 81 min. Produced in Italy in 1961 as Gli invasori; running time: 98 min; opened in Paris in July 1963 as La ruée des Vikings; running time: 88 min. Also known as Fury of the Vikings.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1961

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States 1961

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in Los Angeles (American Cinematheque) as part of program "The Haunted World of Mario Bava" July 26 - August 31, 1996.)