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What happened to "The 13th Warrior?",
This review is from: The 13th Warrior (DVD)
Film director John McTiernan's "The 13th Warrior" is such a frustrating film. There's much to love about this robust viking epic, including a handful of terrific actors with an appealing presence, excellent period detail, memorable battle sequences and a fantastic musical score by the always-dependable Jerry Goldsmith. But why did the studio editors have to cut this film to pieces?!
When watching this action movie, any viewer with half a brain can tell that multiple scenes must have been left on the cutting room floor. Supporting characters disappear without a trace, continuity is fragmented and illogical, the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying. At one point the vikings are traveling by ship, the next they are riding cross country on horseback.
So it's a pleasant surprise that even after such annoying studio interference, "The 13th Warrior" still succeeds on several levels. Based on Michael Crichton's novel "Eaters of the Dead," a whimsical interpretation of the Olde English tale "Beowulf," this film (like the book) changes the dragon into a cannibalistic horde of viscious warriors terrorizing a remote village. A ragtag group of vikings, in the best tradition of "The Magnificient Seven," soon come to the rescue with unwitting Arabic ambassador Ahmed (Antonio Banderas) in tow.
Several great scenes will stay with the viewer, among them Ahmed's touching dalliance with a willowy viking maiden (who disappears by the film's end), Ahmed's humorous camaraderie with his new viking friends, Bulvine's (Beowulf's) fatal stand prior to the final battle, and Omar Sharif's brief cameo at the film's beginning.
Bulvine's viking burial, which should have been one of the ultimate highlights of this film, is shown as if an afterthought during a far too brief montage. The relationship between Bulvine, aging warrior king Hrothgar and Hrothgar's wife (played by the talented Diane Venora), also appears to have been a victim of impatient editors. With the recent success of the "Lord of the Rings" films, it's obvious viewers have no complaints about sitting through a finely detailed epic fantasy, so it comes as a rather sad note that what could have been an equally superb fantasy film has been so severely butchered.
I would love to see a Director's Cut of "The 13th Warrior," with the missing scenes added. John McTiernan has proven his action muscle in the past with the underrated "Predator," and the creative "Die Hard." "The 13th Warrior" is a good film, and I enjoy watching it repeatedly. But with each viewing, I realize with frustration this should have been a great film. As a fantasy fan, I have been sold short by an unimaginative Hollywood system.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 30, 2007 5:33:51 PM PDT
Snyder's Soapbox says:
This was not an interpretation of Beowulf. It was a movie based on the writings of Ibn Fadlan from 922A.D. Read, "Eaters of the Dead" by Michael Crichton. He compiled the different translations of Ibn Fadlan's original writings into a coherent and interesting glimpse back in time.
Posted on Apr 7, 2008 1:03:19 PM PDT
Thanks Xigtem, but you should probably read my review first: "Based on Michael Crichton's novel "Eaters of the Dead," a whimsical interpretation of the Olde English tale "Beowulf,".........
I will also quote the book "Eaters of the Dead," (which I read....it was fun): "Crichton explains that the book was based on two sources. The first three chapters are a retelling of Ahmad ibn Fadlan's personal account of his actual journey north and his experiences with and observations of the Rus', the early Russian people. The remainder is based upon the story of Beowulf."
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2010 8:05:20 PM PST
D. FIRMIN says:
Dude...what are you talking about...I realize that not everyone has taken English Lit, but this film is, for all intensive purposes, the story of Beowulf. This film was written off of a book by a different title, but both are based off the epic poem Beowulf. If you follow each section of the poem, the film taloirs very narrowly to the literature.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2010 8:40:58 AM PST
R. Prausa says:
Interesting thing here is that both are correct. Michael Crichton took the Beowulf story and the writings of Ibn Fadlan and using creative licence combined them to show how Beowulf could be real if the fantastic elements were more realistically protrayed.
As for the origninal post. Yes I totally agree that a "Directors Cut" needs to be done for this movie to be best understood and all the elements of the Beowulf/Ibn Fadlan history be included to make it the complete story. However, since the film has already lost so much money... the Hollywood Machine will never revisit this anytime soon.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2011 3:57:13 AM PDT
Agreed. We will likely never see a "Director's Cut" of this film because of the river of cash lost. This film was released before the enormous success of such fantasty adventure works as "Lord of the Rings" and most recently TV's "Game of Thrones." But McTiernan's stock sells for a nickel these days, no matter the renewed market. So we will have to live with this product.
Posted on Aug 14, 2011 2:34:53 PM PDT
C. Sahu says:
In addition to Beowulf and other sources, didn't Crichton suggest somewhere that the "Eaters of the Dead" might in fact be a surviving tribe of Neanderthal? (Sorry - I didn't read the book but thought I heard that somewhere.)
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2011 3:36:37 AM PDT
Hey C. Sahu, yes that is correct. A final surviving tribe of Neanderthal men/women still exist and have emerged from years of hiding. They are portrayed as primitive, cannabilistic warriors.
Posted on Apr 26, 2012 2:55:35 PM PDT
Kevin B. Graham, D.C. says:
C.K. Wilson hit the nail straight on the head with his review. Nearly everything he illuminated were the same likes and dislikes that I experienced with this film. It is a good film with the potential to be great. With the muscle that comes with fame, I believe that McTiernan and Banderas could team up to push a re-release of this film in a directors cut that would beautifully realize the amazing vision that the director must have originally had for this story. It is time that Hollywood moves back to the days of longer movies (when the material requires that) even if we return to the intermission (and I'm sure the theaters would more than make up for any lost revenue, from extra showings, on what they would sell in over-priced snacks!).
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2012 3:20:39 PM PDT
Kevin B. Graham, D.C. says:
One minor point to make related to the whole Neanderthal question: Whoever originally made the statements, that these (possible) neanderthals were cannibalistic, wasn't paying attention in Anthropology 101; Neanderthals were at closest a subspecies of Homo sapiens, (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis as opposed to us Homo sapiens sapiens) and some recent genetic data seems to point to them belonging to a separate species (Homo neanderthalensis) within the Homo genus ... This means that they could NOT be cannibals by eating us ... they would be basic carnivores. That would be as ridiculous as saying that a Gray wolf (Canis lupus) was a cannibal for eating your poodle (Canis lupus familiaris). No bearing on the movie ... just sayin'.
Posted on Mar 5, 2013 4:17:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 5, 2013 4:18:53 PM PST
2011 Interviews with Vladimir Kulich, Antonio Banderas, John McTiernan . Looks like extras from a foreign DVD release uploaded by Kulich himself. In five parts starting here:
McTiernan states towards the end "....the directors cut is different in several ways but I can't claim there was a magnificent movie.....difference of maybe 5, 10 minutes....maybe it's better leaving it as a myth."
Is the three hour cut a myth?