The 13th Warrior – medieval movie and guilty pleasure


I’ve never understood the hostility that this movie generated when it came out in 1999 – it seemed that once the critical slating got underway, everybody jumped on board to throw rotten tomatoes at it…and you can go to the Rotten Tomatoes movie website to see that plenty of people still hate The 13th Warrior.

But I’ve got a soft spot for certain movies that have been put through the critical mincer but still retain a certain historical fascination and are actually very watchable – and The 13th Warrior is not a dull movie. It’s rather violent and its take on the relationship between the emerging Arab/Islamic world of the east and the so-called Dark Ages in the west is if nothing else, picturesque and spooky!

And to be blunt – it’s certainly not down there with the unintentionally hilarious Ironclad and pretty dreadful Season of the Witch – two recent historical and hysterical offerings from Hollywood.

The 13th Warrior was based on a book by Michael Crichton – the man who brought you great horror sci fi movies in the 1970s like Coma and Westworld and then went on to conjure up Jurassic Park. The 13th Warrior was based on his book Eaters of the Dead and the movie originally adopted that name but when he was called in to direct it, it changed title.

In short, the year is 922CE and an Arab emissary (Antonio Banderas) leaves his beautiful homeland to go to the barbaric west where he falls in with a bunch of uncouth Vikings. He learns their language and fights battles alongside them against a mysterious creature that is threatening to wipe them out. A Viking prophecy stipulates that a foreign man must be present if the beast is to be vanquished – and along comes our Arab friend. I won’t spoil the plot any further!

The movie cost far more than it made back at the box office and Omar Sharif – who had a bit part in the film – slated it and then the critics gave it a good booting. But I think for those trying to understand the cultural clashes of the very early Middle Ages – it’s a good watch. Time, I suspect, may be kinder to The 13th Warrior than the critics were – I hope you agree!

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3 thoughts on “The 13th Warrior – medieval movie and guilty pleasure

  1. [...] The 13th Warrior – medieval movie and guilty pleasure (thetemplarknight.com) [...]

  2. The 13th Warrior is one of my favorite movies. If I had ever listened to critics I would have missed out on probably more than half the movies in my personal library. I did a review on my blog, TheVillageSmith, of my own reasons for giving it a thumbs up – the sound, the look, the dialogue, the epic feel of it, to me, is moving. I agree with you. The critics got it wrong, And again I agree with you. Time will, indeed, be kinder to this movie than its critics. This one review is among my most visited posts.

    • Linda – A good review of the movie from you! I agree. Never tire of re-watching it and I’m sure many of the bad reviews were grounded in Hollywood politics. There were ructions behind the scenes and even the name of the movie changed. But hey ho – it’s the end result that counts and we clearly like it! Tony

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