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The Long Ships (1964)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, History | 24 June 1964 (USA)
A vagabond Viking adventurer and a Moor both compete to find "The Mother of All Voices", a legendary golden bell near the Pillars of Hercules.

Director:

Jack Cardiff

Writers:

Berkely Mather (screenplay), Beverley Cross (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Richard Widmark ... Rolfe
Sidney Poitier ... Aly Mansuh
Russ Tamblyn ... Orm
Rosanna Schiaffino ... Aminah
Oskar Homolka ... Krok
Edward Judd ... Sven
Lionel Jeffries ... Aziz
Beba Loncar ... Gerda
Clifford Evans ... King Harald
Gordon Jackson ... Vahlin
Colin Blakely ... Rhykka
David Lodge ... Olla
Henry Oscar ... Auctioneer
Paul Stassino ... Raschid
Jeanne Moody Jeanne Moody ... Ylva
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Storyline

There is a legend about a great bell, called "The Mother of Voices," made of pure gold, three times the size of a man, made by monks many years ago... This is the story told in the marketplace by a Viking called Rolfe. This information finds its way to the Islamic ruler Aly Manush, who is obsessed with finding the bell. But Rolfe claims not to know where the bell is, and escapes, back to his homeland, to convince his father and brother to give him a ship and crew to replace the one he lost - or to help him steal the Death Ship which belongs to the king - because he does know where the bell is... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Greatest Viking Adventure Of Them All! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Yugoslavia

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 June 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les drakkars See more »

Filming Locations:

Yugoslavia

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Post-Viking era Norwegians fought in the Crusades from 1107-1110, under King Sigurd I. They scored victories in Portugal, Sidon, and Beirut. Check out "Norwegian Crusade" on Wikipedia. See more »

Goofs

Leaving aside the issue of the sound of a bell made of gold, the bell could not the sound it does. It forms the dome of the building and is covered with concrete and stone which would stop the metal vibrating, absorbing the energy of the sound. See more »

Quotes

Olla: Well, where are we?
Rolfe: Civilization.
Olla: Huh?
Rolfe: [Disgustedly] No... you wouldn't understand that.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK cinema version was cut for violence and the 1988 video release lost a further 13 secs to edit shots of horse-falls. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinema Komunisto (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Long Ships, Tall Tales, and Big Bells
13 April 2010 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

The entertaining if somewhat protracted interest in spectacular pseudo- and quasi-classical myths, legends, histories and fantasies has been a healthy undercurrent in popular film from right around the time when Jack Cardiff's The Long Ships was released. While more of a Viking romp set in 'ye olden tymes' than a grand classical spectacle like Jason and Argonauts, The Long Ships has just enough class to keep you entertained and just enough spoof to make you chuckle. Forget history, ignore reality, and enjoy.

Richard Widmark, surprisingly, makes for a convincing Viking adventurer. Rolfe (Widmark) is an extremely ambiguous character around which the entire story revolves. Is he a pathological liar, a loyal son, a dreamer, or a visionary? Perhaps he is all of the above. Rolfe loses his ship and crew in a maelstrom somewhere in the lands of the Moors. He tells stories for spare change in a Moorish market and catches the ear of one of the local ruler's guards when he tells a story concerning a solid gold bell the size of three tall men.

The ruler - Aly Mansur - is played by the always excellent Sidney Poitier. Mansur is obsessed with the symbols of wealth and power and has been seeking this very same bell for years. His wife, played by the beautiful and talented Rosanna Schiaffino, is his more rational half. She plays an important role in the development of all three of the central characters. Claiming that he was just telling a story, Rolfe finally escapes Mansur's torture by making a spectacular dive from the ruler's prison tower into the sea. Apparently, he then swims home to Scandinavia, arriving at his home town only to find that his father has been made destitute by the king's wheeling and dealing.

So he makes his pitch and recruits the aid of his naive younger brother, a new crew, and a hostage (the king's maiden daughter) to steal the king's best ship and pursue the mythical bell. For the sake of brevity, I'll stop my description of the plot here, though I could easily go on for several pages without a spoiler. A lot happens.

Director Cardiff was well known for his cinematography (winning several awards, including a pair of Oscars). Although The Long Ships was not one of his more memorable efforts, the camera work is solid. The special effects, even for its time, however, are nothing special. Some of the maritime scenes are, frankly, not very good. And unfortunately, the editor chose to use the same scenes twice in order to save a few pennies.

Widmark shows his versatility nicely here. While playing shady characters is no stretch for this great actor, he manages to play up the comedic elements of the story - which are plenty - without losing Rolfe's dangerous ambiguity, upon which the entire story turns. The supporting cast is generally very good. And the stunt team should be legendary. The Long Ships incorporates a surprising amount of wild slapstick silliness into its highly choreographed fight scenes. I imagine that the film resulted in many bruised backs, sore shins and twisted ankles.

Although replete with violence, most of the gore remains implied, and The Long Ships succeeds as a goofy adventure primarily for young and young-old boys.


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