13th Warrior
Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The 13th Warrior

MPAA Rating: R for bloody battles and carnage.

Reviewed by: Deanna Marquart

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action / Thriller / Horror
114 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Dennis Storhøi, Vladimir Kulich, Omar Sharif | Director: Michael Crichton and John McTiernan

“The 13th Warrior” is the screenplay make of the book Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (author of “Jurassic Park”) which itself is based off the remaining fragments of an actual report written in the 10th century by Ahmad Ibn Fadlan of his adventures with a company of Norsesmen. This means that “The 13th Warrior” is an historical drama. Keeping this in mind allows the viewer to look past this movie from “typical Hollywood fare” to an educational experience—if you may. It did for me, at least.

Ahmad Ibn Fadlan was an Arab courtier in powerful city of Baghdad, exiled, under the guise of being made an ambassador, when the Caliph discovered the queen had eyes for Ahmad. Along the way of his journey, he and his caravan come upon a Viking (Norsemen) encampment. The people warmly receive the party as their guests, and the young Arab himself learns, much to his chagrin (as well as to the audience, I might add!), of their culture and customs. Not many days later, a messenger arrives from further north, seeking aid from a “nameless terror” which is invading their land. This “terror,” Ahmad Ibn (called simply “Ibn” by the Norsemen) is later to understand, is the mythical Wendol, creatures so fierce they eat the dead; they even have the power to summon the fire-breathing glowworm dragon for their purposes.

Ibn is forced to join the ban of twelve who arose to the challenge, including the new chieftain, for their soothsayer had foretold that thirteen must go, and “one must be no Northman,” making him the thirteenth warrior. (No pressure!) Thus begins Ibn’s journey where he would not dare tread, but through the journey he learns more of these people, and they learn of him and come to value his aid.

Though an intriguing movie, I found it a little hard to stomach for its spiritual content as well as for the graphic battle scenes. Twice, the Norsemen rely on soothsayers for guidance, and Ibn frequently refers to Allah. Realistically, however, there is not much Christian perspective that can be gained from the account of an Arab amidst Vikings! But one does gain a new perspective on these people. I know for me, this is the first account of Vikings I have seen which shows them as just regular people who happen to be fierce as opposed to mere “bloody barbarians.” And these men did give their lives to defend another’s territory.

The violence in this movie is graphically realistic of medieval warfare, which is quite gory (I’ll spare you the bloody details). Another “realism” is the revelry of the Norseman, which includes drinking and carousing. To the filmmakers' credit, though, there is no nudity or focused sexual interaction, other than seeing Ibn and another woman awaking from under the same blanket. As for the language, I was not carrying a foul-language-meter with me, so I cannot provide such details. Suffice that it played no major role in the dialogue.

In summary, if you enjoyed such movies as “Glory” and “Braveheart” you will also enjoy this movie (but please pray a guard over your heart for occult involvements of the film). If these were not your types of movies, then leave this one alone.

Viewer Comments
I thought that this movie was absolutely awesome, and the fact that Micheal Crichton is my fave author helped… anyway, it was great to see that, even though there was relation to soothsayers in the flick, Antonio Banderas was true to his faith, and although I am not Islamic, I greatly appreciate seeing people who are true to what they believe. The acting was phenomenal, and graphically speaking it was harsh, but I would strongly recommend this movie (a lot more than “The Blair Witch Project”)
—Brad McVay, age 19
This movie was pretty good. Before I went to see it I came to this page and I read the comments from the older people (just because ther is wisom with age) and I got convinced to see it. I don’t like that religious stuff it has in there but other than that it was good. It was bloody so that is why it’s rated “R”. Not that many swear words. I only picked it out like two times or something but if you like adventure go for it; I do recommend it.
—Maried Aybar, age 15
Though the violence in the movie was hard to stomach, we do have to look at this movie as a historical account. If you study the parchments of Ibn, you will find that they are reliable and accurate in their account of Vikings and history. If you have not read the book EATERS OF THE DEAD, you would be totally lost. This is one of the closet book to movie adaptions that has been made. Though I would not take my kids to see it, I would much rather them see it than watch the news and hear about women throwing their babies away in trashcans. Once again, another movie that reflects our bloodthirsty society.
—Chris Yeager, age 21
“13th Warrior” is an awesome war flick with great acting, interesting settings, and cool battle scenes. On moral issues, there is nothing to be concerned about, other than the stuff with the soothsayer which only lasts about five minutes and the reason why Fadlan was exiled (he was attracted to the wife of a nobleman). There is almost no profanity (1 “damn” I think) and no sex (Fadlan and a Viking woman are seen under a blanket, but they are fully clothed, so they probably did not have sex). The violence is extreme, but this is a war movie.

Also, there are good messages about helping others (the warriors go on a long, demanding trek to save another kingdom from the “wendol”), standing up for oneself, and others. The movie portrays violence as a solution to a problem, but this time it is the only solution since the wendol are a race of murderers who would have wiped out the Vikings otherwise. Bottom Line: Although the violence is extreme, the movie is appropriate for everyone over thirteen.
—Matt Quinn, age 15
While the reviewer has pointed out that the Michael Crichton book is based on “remaining fragments of an actual report written in the 10th century by Ahmad Ibn Fadlan of his adventures with a company of Norsesmen,” it’s my understanding that only Ibn’s first encounter with the vikings is true, and the rest of the “adventures” are fiction. Crichton wanted the readers to think they were reading a true story—the story from which the Beowulf legend would have come. And he (and the movie) did an excellent job. Being very familiar with Beowulf made the movie much more enjoyable for me, and more irritating for my wife, as I was constantly pointing out to her the subtle similarities between the original Beowulf poem and the movie. The thing I liked most was that the vikings didn’t have horns on their helmets. I would have walked out if they had.
—Zander Renault, age 26
This movie was a non-Christian version, of a Champion, risking his life to help strangers overcome a dreadful enemy and expose deception. If you look for the good in it, there is much to be seen. Few curse words. Just a couple scenes with soothsayers. 90’s style graphics on some of the fighting scenes. A subdued, for the 90’s, hint at a love scene, which I believe the Moslem morales subdued on purpose, but hinted at in the movie to round out the story and make the character more human… This show was actually quite clean compared to your typical TV program…
—Larry A. Rice, age 56
Well, the reviewer missed (or perhaps unaware of) the fallacies of Islam displayed quite overtly in the movie. Ibn refers to Allah as Father, while that is only the Christian norm to do so. Islam forbids any such personal title to their God. It is a good conversation point with a non-Christian friend. Again, Ibn makes an impromptu prayer on his knees, which is not the Islamic way, as it is written that they have 5 fixed times of prayer. Last and certainly not the least, the grossly immoral act by Ibn, of sleeping with another woman, who is not his wife. But, we are told in the beginning that he is a lecherous person anyway. The movie does glorify violence as an means to an end, so I don’t see any redeeming Christian value on it. Just for the record, I have lived in the Middle East for 13 years, and am very much aware of Islam.
—Peter Sayal, age 23