IMDb > When the Raven Flies (1984)
Hrafninn flýgur
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When the Raven Flies (1984) More at IMDbPro »Hrafninn flýgur (original title)


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6.8/10   1,804 votes »
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Release Date:
25 April 1985 (USA) See more »
Ireland: Vikings pillage the land, seeking silver and slaves, slaying men and women in the process.... See more » | Add synopsis »
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
Reykjavik unveils competition line-up
 (From ScreenDaily. 18 September 2014, 5:10 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Outstanding film! See more (23 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Hrafn Gunnlaugsson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Hrafn Gunnlaugsson 
Dashiell Hammett  novels "Red Harvest" and "Glass Key" (uncredited)
Bo Jonsson  screenplay

Produced by
Bo Jonsson .... producer
Original Music by
Harry Manfredini 
Hans-Erik Philip 
Cinematography by
Tony Forsberg 
Film Editing by
Hrafn Gunnlaugsson 
Costume Design by
Karl Júlíusson 
Sound Department
Gunnar Smári Helgason .... sound
Visual Effects by
Eggert Baldvinsson .... digital restoration: film to DCP
Camera and Electrical Department
Stefan Hencz .... gaffer

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Hrafninn flýgur" - Iceland (original title)
"Revenge of the Barbarians" - , Australia (video title), International (English title) (imdb display title), USA (video title)
See more »
109 min
Color (Fujicolor)
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

First in an unofficial Viking triology (remaining two being Í skugga hrafnsins & Hvíti víkingurinn).See more »
Gest:Heavy knife.See more »
Movie Connections:
References Yojimbo (1961)See more »


Where can I find this movie?
See more »
10 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
Outstanding film!, 18 June 2008
Author: wolf-carl86 from United States

The only Icelandic film I've ever come across. This and it's two (disappointing) sequels, that is. And what an OUTSTANDING film. Wow. The viking film to end all viking films. None of the others made since (Trees Grow on the Stones Too, 13 Warrior, The Pathfinder *yikes!*, the sequels to this film) have been up to much.

Five VIRTUES of When The Raven Flies:

1. Design wise: The viking clichés of (horned) helmets, shiny swords, dragon headed longboats, and the odd galloping stallions are replaced with an authentic, down-to-earth design: Fur caps, black/rusty cleavers/knives, small ocean going merchant vessels, and those curious Icelandic ponies. It is quite odd seeing the characters ride them. The viking warriors feet almost touch the ground, and they ride in a weird trotting style.

Which help bring us closer to what life could have been like back then.

And did I mention how the director has chosen memorable, gritty faces in almost every role? No tall blond semi-gods here, just dirty survivors in a harsh country/island.

2. Plot wise: An Icelandic film about vikings? A chance to show off Icelandic courage, virtue and heroism, right? Wrong. The hero is from IRELAND, rather, and his story is about a viking victim getting back at the perpetrators.

The plot requires minimum knowledge about Icelandic/Norwegian history. It's set during the late 800s AD. While the political power in Norway is being consolidated around one king, Iceland is being colonized by settlers, hunters, traders, political refugees...and Irish slaves. Iceland was considered a loose and distant part of the young kingdom.

The intrigue be a little hard to follow a first. Relax - it will all make sense later on (as characters dwindle in number).

3. Style wise: This gruesome and captivating story of revenge is - yes- a SPAGHETTI WESTERN. Every trick in the Spaghetti-Western handbook. And I mean it as a compliment.This is on par with Sergio Leone on a good day. And how suitable for the material. Talking is kept to a macho minimum. Closeups of frowning faces and steely eyes trying to penetrate the minds of opponents. Quiet. Sudden violent outbursts. Bittersweet ending. The main character, "Guest", isn't even presented with a proper name. Clint's nameless character in the Dollar movies, anyone?

This is an Arctic homage to Sergio Leone. Bravo!

4. Endurance: 24 years on and the film is still standing strong. Some bloods'n gore effects are little on the silly side, some sophomore editing. Some synth music and ditto drums upsets the mood a little at times. My DVD version has no stereo/surround sound. The picture is laser disc fine, not DVD or HD fine.

And those were all the flaws. I mean ALL the flaws. The\is film is so frikkin' strong none of the above really matters.

5. The director still hasn't made anything nearly as impressive as this film. The 1988 sequel, In the Shadow of the Raven, had a bigger budget/production. But lacks the Leone-ish sense of urgency. See for yourself. The last film in his trilogy, Den Kvite Viking, had moments of inspired casting/design/mood etc (a talking wooden Jesus effigy stands out), but is totally overwhelmed by a slow and unconvincing plot. Shame. The more reason to love and revere the original!

See it before they cast Nicholas Cage in a remake!

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