The 13th Warrior (1999) Poster


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The Historic Ahmed Ibn Fadlan traveled as an emissary to the land of the Volga Bulgars to convert them to Islam. And on his way he encountered Turks in Central Asia and Russian and Varangians (Volga Vikings). He returned in 923 and no record after this date refers to him.
In accordance with the book, John McTiernan's version of the Wendol's mother was an old woman, which was filmed with veteran actress Susan Willis. When Michael Crichton took over and did the reshoots, it was decided that brutally killing off an old lady did not reflect very well on the heroes. Crichton decided after the fact to make her younger, sleeker and tougher. In the final released film, Wendol's mother is played by actress Kristen Cloke (uncredited), but the final credits still list Susan Willis as the Wendol's mother (although she is nowhere to be seen in the final cut).
The film omits an explanation of who the "mist monsters" actually are. In the novel, author Michael Crichton reveals they were the descendants of the Neanderthals.
One of the Viking ships used in the movie is now to be found in the Norwegian pavilion in the EPCOT-center, Walt Disney World, where it is used as a playground for kids. The Disney-company is also the owner of Touchstone Pictures that made the movie.
Although rumors persist that 'The 13th Warrior' was one of the most expensive movie flops ever with a budget of $160m (the figure given on the-numbers.com for its combined production and marketing costs), the producers claimed that the actual cost of the film before marketing was $90m. In the U.S. The 13th Warrior grossed $32,698,900 and only $61,702,600 worldwide.
Adapting "Beowulf" for his novel and then for this movie, Michael Crichton changed some of the original names for ones that sounded similar: Beowulf is here named Buliwyf, Hygelac becomes Hyglak, the Grendel transformed into the Wendol, etc.
Graeme Revell had composed a complete original score when the movie was slated to be released as "Eaters of the Dead" in 1998. But after the film was deemed unwatchable during test screenings, Michael Crichton took over the project and rejected Revell's original score and brought in Jerry Goldsmith to rescore the film, renamed "The 13th Warrior."
The disparate armor worn by the Vikings can be explained by the Norse tradition of taking the armor of a vanquished foe. It was also a display of status in Norse society..the nicer the armor the higher the position hence Buliwyf's ornate set and why Halga appears to have the helmet of a Roman gladiator.
Since Michael Crichton published his novel "Eaters of the Dead" in 1976, the basis of this film, it has become regarded as one of the most notorious hoaxes in Librarianship Circles. The Ahmad Tusi Manuscript that Crichton referenced in his bibliography as being the source of this story, is completely made up. The name of the translator Fraus Dolus is in fact two Latin words meaning both 'hoax' and 'fraud'. The University of Oslo, where this manuscript is supposed to be kept, have (since the book was published), on an annual basis had to send out letters telling enquirers that they have been the victim of a hoax.
Omar Sharif was so disappointed by the finished film that he took a temporary retirement from acting.
Originally titled 'Eaters of the Dead', the film went through several re-edits after test audiences did not react well to the initial cut. After re-shooting several key scenes with Michael Crichton taking over as director, the title was changed to 'The 13th Warrior'. The budget, which was originally around $85 million, reportedly soared to more than $110-115 million before principal photography wrapped. With all of the re-shoots and promotional expenses, the total cost of the film was a rumored $160 million.
Tony Curran who plays Weath, one of the Viking warriors, wears a piece of tartan as part of his costume. Curran was born in Scotland.
When Ibn Fahdlan (Banderas) and Melchisidek (Sharif) enters the tent at the beginning of the movie the latter speaks Greek which eventually leads to a conversation with the viking Herger (Storhoi). Melchisidek speaks Greek, and though Herger obviously understands Greek he responds in Latin which Melchisidek fortunately understands.

Though it is not stated why a Northman could understand both Latin and Greek as there were no official connection between Scandinavia and Byzantine in the 10th century, the logical assumption would be that Herger learned the languages due to him taking part in the viking raids/travels into modern day Russia (where the first scenes are filmed) and from there south into what was then the Byzantine Empire. The dominant language of the Byzantium realm was Greek with Latin as a second language. The vikings made at least one attempt at conquering the capital of the Byzantium Empire: Constantinople.
The Wendols throwing weapons are based on the Roman Plumbata. The Plumbata replaced the Roman Pilum (throwing spear) in early 4th century in Legionary Armies.
Was filmed two years before its eventual release date, which had been pushed back several times.
Loosely based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, "Beowulf", whose author is unknown.
In John McTiernan's original cut there was no final duel between Bulywyf and the leader of the Wendol.
The Buliwyf's dog name is Rekkae (played by Connor).
Director Stuart Gordon first optioned the rights from Michael Crichton's book in the early 1990s and generated a lot of interest in the project, before 'Martha Coolidge' (QV) got interested before John McTiernan was ultimately actually hired to direct it...
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The idea of 13 warriors is taken from Scandinavian myths regarding the danish king Hrolf Kraki (Pole-Ladder). The legend goes that Hrolf Kraki had an entourage of 12 warriors (like Buliwyf in the film) and in some versions, one of them is Bödvar Bjarki, a hero who shares parallels with the hero Beowulf. Some scholars has suggested that the story of Bödvar Bjarki is simply another version of the story of Beowulf.
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The second film where Maria Bonnevie plays the daughter of a viking chieftain. She also played one in Hvíti víkingurinn.
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The warriors in Crichton's original "Eaters of the Dead" did not always share the same name (or the same fates) at the warrior characters in the movie. Here are the fate(s) of each warrior in the band, as well as some differences between the book and movie:

1 - Buliwyf, Son of Hygiliak. In the movie, perishes from poison delivered by the Wendol Mother. In the book, Buliwyf is dying from the poison but his body is hacked up in the final battle and he dies a bloody death.

2 - Helfdane the Fat. In the movie, he dies from a chest wound in the Wendol lair. In the book, he is a warrior killed in the second encounter with the fire worm.

3 - Ragnar the Dour. He is decapitated in the first encounter in the Great Hall. Strangely, Ragnar is one of four survivors in the book.

4 - Edgtho the Silent. The masterful scout in the movie. In the book, he is called Ecthgow, and is Buliwyf's lieutenant. He is decapitated in the final battle.

5 - Rethel the Archer. In the movie, he is killed when his position on the rooftop is overrun by Wendol during the second battle (the first fight after the sighting of the Fireworm). In the book, he is a younger warrior who is mortally wounded (stomach / intestinal wound) in the second encounter.

6 - Haltaf the Boy. Rethel's son in the movie. He appears briefly in the film; it's Haltaf who snipes the Wendol sentry at the lair. Haltaf is also the one who waves to Ahmed during the farewell at the beach. In the book, he is the second of four survivors, and Crichton makes no mention if Haltaf and Rethel are related.

7 - Roneth the Unspoken. In the movie, he is killed in the second encounter once the barricade is torn down (the camera moves up to his astonished look, and a Wendol cavalryman charges through him). In the book, he is an Earl who had his chest torn open in the first encounter at the Great Hall.

8 - Weath the Musician. The redhead who looks like Herger in the movie. In the book, he is a warrior who was speared through the chest in the final encounter.

9 - Hyglak the Quarrelsome. He is killed in the first encounter in the Great Hall (they find his headless corpse in the aftermath). In the book, he is a warrior who was decapitated in the first encounter. His name was changed in the film as well, because his name, 'Edgtho', likely because it appeared too closely to Ecthgow (the lieutenant).

10 - Halga the Wise. In the movie, he is killed by cavalry lances / spears being run through his body in the second encounter. In the book, he is an Earl who had his spine broken in the first encounter.

11 - Herger the Joyous. The talkative bloke. He is mostly portrayed as he is in the book, and he is the third of four survivors.

12 - Skeld the Superstitious. In the movie, he is killed by arrows or thrown spears when he is attempting to dislodge burning arrows on a fortification during the second encounter. In the book, he is an Earl killed in the second encounter with the fire worm.

13 - Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan. 'Eban', the 13th Warrior. Ahmed is more or less portrayed as he was described in the book. He is the last of the four survivors of this adventure.

Additionally, there is an extra scene at the end of the book where Herger and Ahmed battle Hrothgar's "evil" son, Wiglaf and one of his henchmen in a final duel.

The roles of Melchisidek (Omar Shariff) and Olga (Marie Bonnevie) were taken from an old man who "spoke Greek" and warned Ahmed of Prince Wiglaf's ambition. Ahmed has no romantic interest in the book (any woman he slept with were unnamed) and Queen Weilew (Diane Venora) did not play as large a role (power behind the throne) in the book as she does in the movie.

The one-eyed old man (Richard Ooms) who describes the fire worm is the only remnant of the Greek speaking old man from the book who makes it into the film.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

After Buliwyf slays the other heir apparent, the line "Så du tennene på henne?" is heard spoken in the background. This is Norwegian, and translates to "Did you see the teeth on her?"
The second part of Ahmed's prayer before the last battle is very similar to the "Confiteor", a prayer used in the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church.

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