Erik the Conqueror
|Erik the Conqueror|
Italian film poster
|Directed by||Mario Bava|
|Music by||Roberto Nicolosi|
|Edited by||Mario Serandrei|
Erik the Conqueror (Italian title: Gli Invasori/ The Invaders; also released as Fury of the Vikings) is an epic 1961 Italian action–adventure film directed by Mario Bava and starring George Ardisson and Cameron Mitchell as long-lost Viking brothers in the 9th century, one of whom is raised in England, the other in Scandinavia. They finally meet after almost 20 years, as rivals on opposite sides of an English–Viking war. It is a loose remake of the American film The Vikings.
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In 786 AD, three large Viking ships land in England. King Harald (Folco Lulli), the only Viking chieftain interested in maintaining peace, makes a plea to King Loter (Franco Ressel). The English king sends Sir Rutford (Andrea Checchi) to work out a deal with the Vikings. Rutford stages a surprise attack on the Vikings. King Harald is felled by an arrow fired by Rutford's chief assassin. During the battle, Harold's two young sons, Erik and Eron, are whisked away by one of his chiefs. Eron is rescued but Erik is left behind in the chaos.
Later, King Loter arrives on the scene, where he threatens to strip Rutford of his title. Rutford retaliates by having his assassin kill Loter with an arrow. Loter's wife, Queen Alice (Françoise Christophe), wanders away. She finds Erik hiding on the beach. The queen decides to raise Erik as her own son.
20 years later, the Vikings once again wage war against England. The adult Eron (Cameron Mitchell ), has fallen in love with a vestal virgin named Daya (Ellen Kessler), the identical twin sister of the vestal Rama (Alice Kessler). They hide their love out of fear of being executed. Eron tells Daya that a king is permitted to marry a vestal. Viking leader King Olaf (Jean-Jacques Delbo) makes a pact with the kingdoms of Iceland, Norway, and Sweden to invade England once again. Due to his age, Olaf appoints a younger to lead the attack. Olaf chooses Eron but his choice is contested by Garian (Joe Robinson). Garian wishes to be elected leader, and a vote by 100 warriors is taken. Olaf declares that they will have to fight to the death. Eron is victorious but refuses to kill his opponent, asking Garian to serve as his right-hand man.
In England, the adult Erik (Giorgio Ardisson) is appointed Duke of Helford and leader of the English sea forces, replacing Sir Rutford. Rutford plants an agent on board to set fire to Erik's ship while at sea.
The Viking and English fleets meet in the North Sea and a sea battle begins. Vikings board Erik's flagship just as the agent sets fire to it. In the battle, Erik and Eron meet and engage in a sword fight. Erik's ship catches fire. Erik jumps overboard and later washes ashore in Viking land. He is found by Rama. Rama points Erik in the direction of a local fishing village, where he is accepted by the Vikings as a shipwrecked fisherman.
Back in England, Sir Rutford proposes marriage to the queen, who rebuffs him. Eron and his men arrive. Eron then appoints Rutford as Regent and takes Queen Alice as a hostage back to Viking land. There, Rama is assigned to look after Queen Alice. Rama notices that the queen also wears a cross and mentions this to Erik. Demanding to know the prisoner's name, Erik is shocked to find that it's his 'mother'.
The next day, Eron and Daya are to be married. As Erik watches the wedding ceremony, he mistakenly believes that it is Rama who is being married. Enraged by this imagined 'affront', Erik confronts Daya, who doesn't know him. Erik is then locked away by King Olaf to be executed the following morning.
Rama drugs Erik's guards, explains to him that the woman he saw married was her twin sister, and cuts him free. While they flee, Eron and a horde of Vikings give pursuit. Eron nearly falls to his death but Erik, urged by Rama, rescues him from certain death. Eron continues to pursue them but Erik and Rama meet up with Queen Alice and they safely sail to England.
Erik gathers a combined English-Scottish force to attack Rutford's castle but finds that Eron and the Vikings have arrived before him. Erik challenges Eron to a duel. Eron accepts, leaving Daya in Rutford's care. In the ensuing sword fight, Eron catches sight of the tattoo on Erik's chest and recognises him as his brother. He declares a ceasefire, upsetting Rutford, who responds by having his henchman fire an arrow at Erik. Eron throws himself in the path of the arrow and is fatally wounded. The enraged Vikings attempt to storm the castle, but Rutford raises the drawbridge and threatens to kill Daya by the next morning if the Vikings do not disband.
As Eron lies dying, he names Erik as his successor. Becoming more and more delirious, he asks to see Daya one last time. Erik determines to do this by breaking her out of the castle. Erik scales the castle wall. Meanwhile, Rama realizes that the dying Eron will not last much longer and poses as her sister to him. Eron is oblivious to the deception and, upon declaring his love for her, finally dies.
Erik makes his way into the castle, where he rescues Daya. At dawn, the combined Viking, English and Scottish armies attack the castle, scaling the walls and slaughtering the defenders. All of Rutford's men are killed, with Rutford himself being the last to fall when he attempts to throw a spear at the escaping Eron but is pierced with at least a dozen Viking arrows.
With peace restored, Queen Alice reclaims her throne and allows Erik to leave England to claim his title as King of the Vikings. Erik returns to Viking land with Rama, while Daya sails alone with the dead Eron.
- Cameron Mitchell as Eron
- George Ardisson as Erik
- Alice Kessler as Rama
- Ellen Kessler as Daya
- Andrea Checchi as Sir Rutford
- Franco Ressel as King Lotar
- Françoise Christophe as Queen Alice
- Folco Lulli as King Harald
- Jean-Jacques Delbo as King Olaf
- Enzo Doria as Bennet
- Raf Baldassarre as Blak
- Gianni Solaro as Ranco
- Livia Contardi as Hadda
- Franco Giacobini as Rustichello
- Joe Robinson as Garian (uncredited)
In a contemporary review, reviewing an English-dubbed 88 minutes version, the Monthly Film Bulletin stated that the film is "enhanced by Mario Bava's luridly filtered photography and fluid camera technique, and his effortlessly eclectic direction" The review concluded that apart from the soundtrack which was described as "shattering", the technical credits were "above average, as is some of the acting", specifically pointing out Giorgio Ardisson and Andrea Checchi.
- Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0.