A cultured diplomat joins a band of savage warriors in time to meet an even more fearsome enemy in this historical adventure. In 922 A.D., Ibn Fadlan (Antonio Banderas) is a Muslim emissary from Baghdad en route to meet with the King of Saqaliba when he is captured by a gang of Vikings. While Ibn and his people are intelligent and well-mannered, ...
A cultured diplomat joins a band of savage warriors in time to meet an even more fearsome enemy in this historical adventure. In 922 A.D., Ibn Fadlan (Antonio Banderas) is a Muslim emissary from Baghdad en route to meet with the King of Saqaliba when he is captured by a gang of Vikings. While Ibn and his people are intelligent and well-mannered, the Vikings are a rowdy and sometimes unpleasant lot, with an unquenchable appetite for food, alcohol, and women. However, in time he develops an understanding and respect for the Viking warriors and is welcomed into their society by their leader, Buliwyf. However, Ibn must now join them as they return to their homeland once they receive word of an invasion by a huge pack of bloodthirsty invaders who will destroy and eat anything in their path -- including the flesh of the men they have killed. The 13th Warrior was based on the book Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton, which was in turn adapted from tales of Viking folklore. Mark Deming, Rovi
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Crighton's "hook" into "The 13th Warrior" and the novel on which it is based is stone brilliant: he uses the historical figure of Ahmad ibn Fadlan (Banderas), Persian traveler and diplomat as his point-of-view character, thus giving the tale a strong verisimilitude. Many of Ibn Fadlan's observations about the Vikings -- such their sanitary habits, the ship burial of the chieftain, and others -- form the basis for some of the most memorable scenes in the film. Banderas begins as a reluctant member of the expedition to cleanse Heorot from man-eating monsters, but eventually finds his own way to become a warrior without abandoning his culture; hence, his character arc is highly satisfying. The prelude to the climactic battle, the battle itself, and the aftermath may well be the best part of the movie. I rate this film four boxes of popcorn and two horns of mead.
Jan 18, 2009
Diamond In The Rough
Perhaps 4 stars is based on my admitted bias towards anything Nordic, but this movie adaptation of Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead is a good way to spend 2 hours. The cast is almost unknown, except for Banderas, which is a good thing, since even though he detracts from the feel of the movie with his accent, the story itself is memorable and interesting.