IN THEATERS AUTUMN 2014
TON AN / AUS
X CLOSE
TRAILER
TEASER
Vikings vs Wolves
Tune up the Northmen
GET THE LATEST UPDATES



SYNOPSIS

Banished from their homeland by their own king, a group of ruthless Vikings bear down on Britain, intent on plunder and pillaging. Under the command of their daring leader Asbjörn (Tom Hopper), they embark on a dangerous mission: to rob the monasteries of their treasures and with it to buy back their freedom. Their journey is disrupted, however, when they are caught in a vicious storm, which leaves them shipwrecked on the Scottish coast. Stranded behind enemy lines, their only chance of survival is to make it to distant Viking-settlement Danelaw. En route, the Vikings successfully capture the feisty Lady Inghean (Charlie Murphy), daughter of King Dunchaid (Danny Keogh). The banished warriors seize their opportunity for a high ransom, but King Dunchaid, well-prepared in battle, summons his most ruthless mercenary army the ‘Wolf Pack‘ – a band of men feared for their cruelty across the land. It is only with the help of a mysterious monk called Conall (Ryan Kwanten), that the Northmen finally manage to escape from the ‘Wolf Pack’ and their merciless leaders Hjorr (Ed Skrein) and Bovarr (Anatole Taubman). As Conall leads the Vikings through the only safe route to Danelaw – the long-forgotten “Path of the Serpent” – a relentless race against time begins; a hunt for life and death.

Asbjörn (Tom Hopper)


THE LEADER

Asbjörn is the leader of the last free Vikings. They refuse to recognise the rule of King Schönhaar, who once had Asbjörn's father and clan leader Egill brutally murdered. Banished by the king, Asbjörn leaves his homeland Thule with a few allies in order to buy himself out of the Bann with gold. Still young, he has to prove his strength of leadership not only to outside enemies but to his own men, too.

„Asbjörn is the leader of the Vikings. His father was a loved and respected clan leader who was murdered on the king's orders. In order to assume leadership Asbjörn must step out of his father's shadow, but not all the Vikings accept him. Because while his father murdered and plundered his way to victory, Asbjörn prefers to take a more understanding and diplomatic approach." – Tom Hopper

Thorald (Ken Duken)


THE ARCHER

Thorald is the oldest friend of Asbjorn, the leader of the Viking group. They grew up together and have already shared many victories in battle side by side under Egill's leadership. Thorald is an excellent archer who can also bear up in close combat. Together with Gunnar, the oldest warrior in the group, he forms the core of Asbjörn's group.

„Thorald is the only archer in the Vikings' group. He uses an old, forgotten technique by which he can shoot the next arrow while the one he has just shot is still in the air. In this way he can already eliminate his enemies from a distance. He is his leader Asbjörn's most faithful friend and is so loyal that he would give his life at any time.” – Ken Duken

Gunnar (Darrell D’Silva)


THE Berserker

Gunnar, with his mighty battleaxe, is one of the most feared Northmen of all. The fearless berserker goes into battle with the battle cry of “Walhalla!”, and there is no opponent he will not face with determination. His drinking songs are as legendary as his thirst for mead and his dislike of Christians.

„Gunnar is the oldest warrior in the group. He has already fought alongside Asbjörn’s father. The Vikings are like a motorcycle club and Gunnar is like one of the founding members. He is simple, likes drinking, likes fighting and likes chasing women. He follows orders without thinking too much about them. But he is like an uncle and protector to the leader of the Viking group, Asbjörn, whom he has known since he was born.” – Darrell D’Silva

Bjorn (James Norton)


THE BROTHER OF Valli (Johan Hegg)

The two brothers, Bjorn and Valli, have joined Asbjörn, the leader of the stranded Viking group, in the fight against King Harald Schönhaar. Bjorn had already taken part in many raids beforehand, while Valli went into service as a smith. Although Valli stands head and shoulders above his brother, he is the younger of the two – and his brother never stops reminding him of it.

„Bjorn is a stroke of luck for the stranded Vikings because he has already been to Scotland. He knows the people and the language they speak in this hostile country. But scarcely have they arrived than Bjorn is severely wounded and becomes a burden to his comrades, whose journey is slowed down by the injured man.” – James Norton

Valli (Johan Hegg)


THE BROTHER OF Bjorn (James Norton)

The two brothers, Valli and Bjorn, have joined Asbjörn, the leader of the stranded Viking group, in the fight against King Harald Schönhaar. Bjorn had already taken part in many raids beforehand, while Valli went into service as a smith. Although Valli stands head and shoulders above his brother, he is the younger of the two – and his brother never stops reminding him of it.

„Bjorn is a stroke of luck for the stranded Vikings because he has already been to Scotland. He knows the people and the language they speak in this hostile country. But scarcely have they arrived than Bjorn is severely wounded and becomes a burden to his comrades, whose journey is slowed down by the injured man.” – James Norton

Jorund (Leo Gregory)


THE KNIFE-Fighter

As a "Hird", Jorund was an elite warrior under King Harald Schönhaar. After the bloody battle of Hafrsfjord Jorund turned against his king and fought at the side of Asbjörn’s father Egill from then on. Despite his non-stop complaining he is a reliable fighter with an unerring feeling for where treasures can be found.

„Jorund was once one of King Harald’s bodyguards but then resisted his order to kill and plunder his way through the country. When escaping he joined Asbjörn’s father. Jorund finds it difficult to accept Asbjörn as the new leader after his father dies. Jorund is a quick and nimble fighter who prefers the dagger to the sword. Unlike the other Vikings he does not believe in an afterlife in Walhalla. Falling in battle is not an honour for him but merely the bitter end.” – Leo Gregory

Grim (Mark Strepan)


The young and wild one

Grim is the youngest in Asbjörn’s group. He makes up for his inexperience in battle by the perfect teamwork with Haldor when they face their opponents back to back.

„Grim is the youngest in the group and stays in the background. He is not a typical Viking, but questions everything. Although he believes in Walhalla, he wants to stay alive as long as possible. He is a quick and agile swordsman and tries to emulate his leader Asbjörn“. – Mark Strepan

HJORR (Ed Skrein)


the Wolf

Hjorr is the leader of the Wolf Pack, a nefarious group of mercenaries that knows no mercy and has now decided to hunt down Asbjörn's Vikings. Like his older brother Bovarr, Hjorr originally comes from the Carpathians and with his men helped King Dunchaid to attain power. His unpredictable manner makes him feared even amongst his own people; only Bovarr dares to stand up to him.

„Hjorr is Bovarr's younger brother. At the age of three he had to see Vikings raping and killing his mother and beating his father to death. Hjorr has not been able to deal with this trauma even as an adult. He only trusts his brother, who is a tactician and strategist. Hjorr, on the other hand, is an aggressive, brutal and impulsive lieutenant." – Ed Skrein

BOVARR (Anatole Taubman)


the mercenary

Bovarr is Hjorr's older brother; he tries to smooth down his impulsiveness. He uses his hunting falcons to make sure he knows where the enemy is lurking at all times. Despite his calmer nature, Bovarr is feared no less than his brother because he also only knows victory or death.

„Bovarr is a fearless mercenary from the Carpathians and leads the wolves with his younger brother Hjorr. King Dunchaid has hired the group to hunt down the Vikings. It is also a personal revenge campaign for Bovarr. As a child he had to look on while Vikings brutally slew his parents. Since then, Bovarr has been protecting his brother Hjorr, who is five years his junior. While Hjorr is a restless, angry fighter who uses raw violence, Bovarr is a strategist who thinks before acting." – Anatole Taubman

CONALL (Ryan Kwanten)


the fighting monk

Conall is a Christian monk who once came to Alba in order to convert the wild tribe of the Picts. When the Scottish King Dunchaid invited the Picts to a meeting, Conall acted as arbitrator - without realising that he was leading the Pictish leaders into a deadly trap. After the massacre the surviving Picts were enslaved and Conall retreated to the ruins of a tower and became a hermit in order to pay penance. Despite his willingness to help and his faith he is a merciless warrior who uses his iron-clad fighting stick swiftly and with deadly precision when he has to.

„When Conall is meditating at a lake, the Vikings stumble upon him. They do not take the Christian monk, who outwardly seems very peaceful and spiritual, seriously. But that changes when Conall skilfully eliminates several attackers. There is a warrior lurking inside the secretive monk. He helps the Vikings to treat the wounded Bjorn and joins the group on their journey through the enemy land." – Ryan Kwanten

LADY INGHEAN (Charlie Murphy)


the king's daughter

Lady Inghean is the only child of King Dunchaid, who wants to marry her to clan lord Murdill against her will in order to secure his power. Inghean's striving for justice at the court of her father led to her being sent off to a convent in the south of the country. She is connected to her homeland in a mystical way; this connection gives her visions that are not always what they seem at first glance. After she discovers that her father would rather see her dead than in the hands of her enemies, she decides to fight on the side of the Vikings.

„Inghean is not a typical princess. She runs away from her father, the King of Scotland, and falls into the hands of the Vikings. But they quickly notice that they have not done themselves any favours with this hostage. Inghean was born in the wrong century. She doesn’t want to be dependent on men." – Charlie Murphy

CREW

Director:
Claudio Fäh

Screenplay:
Bastian Zach, Matthias Bauer

Producers:
Ralph S. Dietrich, Karin G. Dietrich, Daniel Höltschi, Frank Kaminski, Ulrich Stiehm, Marco Del Bianco, Rolf Wappenschmitt, Gishelher Venzke, Bertha Spieker

Camera:
Lorenzo Senatore

Composer
Marcus Trumpp

Casting:
Kelly Valentine Hendry

Costume Design:
Moira Anne Meyer, Riccarda Merten-Eicher

Make-up Design:
Ayten Morgenstern

Special Make-up Effects:
Jaco Snyman

Production design :
Tom Hannam, Shane Bunce

Art Director:
Patrick O’Connor

Stunt-Coordinator:
Anthony Mo Marais

Promoter:
nordmedia – Film- und Mediengesellschaft Niedersachsen/Bremen mbH, National Film and Video Foundation South Africa, Department Trade and Industry

From Scotland to Africa

When producer Frank Kaminski, Managing director of Jumping Horse film GmbH, heard about the explosive mix of a Viking movie paired with director Claudio Fäh, he seized his chance for a collaboration, acting as producer and also taking charge of visual effects. Frank Kaminski was the one who brought South Africa to the table as a possible shoot location, after which an extensive search for the perfect location began.

“When Frank Kaminski recommended South Africa, at first I thought he was crazy,“ admits director Claudio Fäh. “But after I looked at the photos of possible locations, I was completely convinced to do the movie there “. Not only does the versatile landscape of South Africa offer similar cliffs and highlands to Scotland, it also has the appropriate climate. According to Frank, “Most people think that it’s always sunny in Africa and don‘t know that winter in the southern part can be very rainy, cold and stormy“.


The Cape Town based company Two Oceans Production, run by Giselher Venzke and Bertha Spieker, were brought on board to find locations and local crew members. Giselher Venzke, who is a co-producer on NORTHMAN - A VIKING SAGA, also applied for and received funding from South Africa for the project. “Through our company we applied for financial support from the National Film and Video Foundation South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry“, explains Giselher Venzke. 


Rough climate

Just as the Northmen faced tough climates and other grievances on their travels, our international cast was also subjected to the forces of mother nature. Whether it was along the jagged coastline or in the widespread valleys of South Africa, the weather was extreme. On some shoots days, there was even snow. “The motto of the film is ‘man versus nature,’ says producer Frank Kaminski. “This also started applying to production criteria.“ Producer Ralph S. Dietrich agrees, saying, “We were in the wild with a lot of material. It was icy-cold and very uncomfortable for everybody. When it is cold and rains you can at least shoot, but the worst was the fog. This cost us many shooting days, which also meant money. Despite the cost, the weather and climate were ideal for the movie, and for the conditions the Northmen had to face“.

With these weather obstacles, Director Claudio Fäh was able to find conditions that were perfect for the visual style of the movie. “The weather adapted to our scenes perfectly: we had a storm, icy winds, rain, fog and even snow. This allowed us to convincingly portray the dangerous boat ride“. For security reasons, the dramatic sinking of the boat was moved to the Cape Town Film Studios. Co-producer Giselher Venzke proudly states that the sinking of the Viking ship in the storm was simulated using the tricks of the old DEFA tradition. “The rocking of the boat is easily simulated by putting it on an over dimensional eggshell. This creates the same effect that the Americans do with a large hydraulic, but for a fraction of the cost. We were amazed that we could make such a big wave with our little Viking boat“. 


All sorts of Weapons

Stunt coordinator Anthony Mo Marais, alongside his team of 35 stuntmen, were responsible for the perfectly choreographed fight scenes. The South African had already prepped the actors about all the duels and battles weeks before the start of shooting. “We used swords made of steel, with the potential to cause serious injury,“ explains Anthony Mo Marais. As a result, the actors had to learn to maintain a safe distance from their opponents, and in more precarious situations the stunt crew took over. Whenever possible, however, the actors did it themselves. “The fights are never over the top, but rather look hard, realistic and brutal,“ says Johan Hegg. When some situations were even too dangerous for the stuntmen, dummies were used from the workshops of Jaco Snyman. “They not only had to look real, but also had be able to withstand the hard hits and clouts which the brutal Vikings and ‘Wolves‘ inflicted on them“, says Jaco Snyman, who also contributed to the special make-up effects on Claudio Fäh’s action film Sniper: Reloaded in 2011.

All Vikings and ‘Wolves‘ use a range of different weapons and fighting styles. These include not only swords, but also axes, daggers, bows and arrows, a cross bow and a fighting staff. Thankfully, due to his role in Black Sails, Tom Hopper as Asbjörn already had experience with swords. Darrell D’Silva, as Gunnar, swings an axe, and Ken Duken trained with a bow and arrow. “Thorald uses an old technique, in which he can shoot the next arrow whilst the previous arrow is still in mid-flight“, says Ken Duken. “I received a video link from the director, which showed the Danish Bowman Lars Anderson using this technique. I taught it to myself and received many more tips from Lars Anderson. I was surprised by how quickly I learned to use a bow and arrow“.

Ed Skrein, who plays the brutal mercenary Hjorr, has a long sword and dagger with a carved wolf motive on the handle. “Hjorr’s strength lies in his aggression“, explains Ed Skrein. “His fight style differs from the agile and considerate movements of Viking Asbjörn. With Hjorr, everything is dirtier, meaner and more brutal. The viewers should feel uncomfortable when they see me fight“. Despite these high-octane action sequences, there are also quieter, more nuanced moments. “Although there is a fair amount of violence and action, there is also subtelty, with characters living together. Those quieter occasions, without blood and death, are very important,“ says Leo Gregory. “It is not only action fans that will love the movie, but also those who value character and emotional development“.

Waffen und Kampfstile

Alle Wikinger und Wölfe verwenden unterschiedliche Waffen und individuelle Kampfstile. So kommen neben Schwertern auch Äxte, Dolche, Pfeil und Bogen, eine Armbrust und ein Stock zum Einsatz.

Tom Hopper, der dank seiner Rolle in der Piratenserie „Black Sails“ den Umgang mit Schwertern gewohnt war, benutzt als Asbjörn vor allem ein Breitschwert. Darrell D'Silva schwingt als Gunnar eine schwere Axt, Ken Duken trainierte den Einsatz von Pfeil und Bogen. „Thorald benutzt eine alte Technik, mit der er den nächsten Pfeil abschießen kann, während der zuvor geschossene Pfeil noch in der Luft ist“, sagt Ken Duken. „Ich bekam vom Regisseur einen Videolink, der den dänischen Bogenschützen Lars Andersen beim Einsatz dieser Technik zeigt. Ich habe es mir selbst beigebracht und von Lars Andersen weitere Videos mit vielen Tipps bekommen. Ich war überrascht, wie schnell ich am Ende Pfeile abfeuern konnte.“

Ed Skrein setzt als brutaler Söldner Hjorr auf ein langes Schwert und einen Dolch mit geschnitzten Wolfsmotiven am Griff. „Hjorrs Stärke liegt in seiner Aggression“, erklärt Ed Skrein. „Sein Kampfstil unterscheidet sich von den agilen und wohlüberlegten Bewegungen des Wikingers Asbjörn. Bei Hjorr ist alles dreckiger, gemeiner, brutaler.