Directed by: Howard McCain
Written by: Howard McCain, Dirk Blackman
Other cast: Jim Caviezel, Jack Huston, John Hurt, Cliff Saunders, Patrick Stevenson, Katie Bergin, Ted Ludzik
Release date: 23 January (US), 24 April 2009 (UK)
Running time: 115 min
Outlander begins when a space craft crashes into the majestic fjords of ancient Norway and into the time of the Vikings. From the wreckage emerge two bitter enemies: a soldier from another world – Kainan – and a bloodthirsty creature known as the Moorwen. Man and monster both seeking revenge for violence committed against them. As the Moorwen ravages the Viking world, killing everything in its path, Kainan forms an unlikely alliance with the primitive but fierce warriors. Combining his advanced technology with ancient Iron Age weapons, the hero leads a desperate attempt to kill the monster – before it destroys them all.
Norway, 709 AD. A man watches in awe as unfamiliar signs appear on the night sky. There’s also a loud sound. It’s Kainan whose spaceship crashes onto earth. After realizing what happened a gadget of his spaceship helps him find out what planet he’s on and what language the people speak. It also ‘teaches’ him the language. After the procedure he stops speaking Alien language (represented in the film by Old Norse) and speaks Norse (represented in the film by English). He notices something’s not quite right and starts hunting it in the woods. He arrives at a clearing and finds a destroyed village. Soon he’s captured by Wulfric, who thinks that it was Kainan who destroyed Gunnar’s village – who in turn will be sure to blame Wulfric for the damage once he returns, which will be soon.
Back in the village king Rothgar tries to persuade his beautiful yet fierce daughter Freya to marry Wulfric. She however doesn’t feel inclined to do so in the least. She views Wulfric as a brute – like his father Halga, who died in a battle against the Franks. A battle which Gunnar failed to join. Rather than trying to keep peace among the Viking tribes Wulfric would love nothing more than revenge on Gunnar. But it’s not something he can let this ‘Outlander’ do without punishment. Kainan’s claiming to be innocent and to have been hunting a ‘dragon’. Nobody believes him.
Kainan is able to free himself but just when he’s about to escape the ‘dragon’ attacks the village. Yet, alas no sign of Gunnar. Who was it? Kainan’s once again captured, who once again tries to tell them of the creature – known by Kainan’s people as Moorwen – that he brought along with his ship and that needs hunting down. Somewhat against Wulfric’s will but by the king’s decision the men set out to the woods. They find a bear and kill it.
In the bear’s cave Kainan saves the king’s life. Reluctantly, he’s being welcomed into their clan. After he manages to hold his own during the shield dance against local champion Wulfric, Kainan definitely has found a place with them for the time being. Yet, he knows it was not the bear that was behind all those attacks. And he has his own reasons to feel both revengeful and guilty when dealing with the monster. He convinces the village to create a trap for the creature. At first it looks like they’re succeeding but events unfold and they realize the situation is even more serious than they had anticipated. The majority of the people head for the boats, seeking refuge.
It’s only a small group of strong men who join Kainan in hunting down the Moorwen. They encounter some set backs along the way and in the end it’s only Kainan, Wulfric and Freya who’re setting out for the final battle. What will the outcome be? Who will be king – not only of the village but also of Freya’s heart?
Sophia Myles plays Viking princess Freya – the king’s (Rothgar) daughter. She’s certainly not our average princess and rather than marry heir-to-the-throne Wulfric (his father was king before) she would like to be a warrior. Actually, the discussion about her future with her father is also a very impressive sword fight.
She greets the arrival of the ‘Outlander’ (Kainan) in town with only mild curiousity. When Wulfric sends her to attend to Kainan’s wounds, which he himself inflicted upon him, she initially tells him to clean up his own mess but then she gives in and follows his command. She subsequently gets knocked out by Kainan but later on she returns the favour by decking him with a roundhouse. Also Boromir – another man from the village – knows a story or two about how it’s not wise to cross Freya.
It’s only when she overhears Boromir tell people how Kainan saved her father’s life when they were hunting down the bear that she starts seeing him in a new light. She agrees to no longer mockingly call him ‘Outlander’ but rather by his real name. Kainan tells her his story and how it came to be that he brought Moorwen to their place. The two forge an emotional bond and she sees in him a man fit to wear a king’s sword.
While trying to capture the Moorwen the villagers are unpleasantly surprised and tragedy strikes. Freya’s set on fighting the alien herself now. A boat trip brings her to a very unpleasant place however and it’s only when Kainan together with a few strong men find her that she can join in the fight again. However, as soon as she’s given a sword she doesn’t rely on the men but successfully fights on her own – a scene which got the crowds cheering when I saw the movie. Kainan, Wulfric and Freya are now set for the final battle at the waterfall.
Although Sophia has played willful characters before she never got to play a character as fierce as Freya. You could say she’s almost masculine in her fierceness. No doubt losing her mother and living with her father is part of the reason for this. But as we learn also her mother was a handful, so it must be in her genes. It looks as if Sophia had fun playing Freya despite the harsh weather conditions on location. Apart from displaying some impressive sword fighting abilities Sophia also gives a layered performance. She manages to believably portray Freya as both fierce and compassionate – and definitely with feminine charms.
Filming for the fight scene at the waterfall took 4 days. Sophia Myles was only wearing a torn dress while being soaked by the waterfall – and it was end December in Nova Scotia, so it was extremely cold.
When Sophia read the script, she never envisioned Freya as a blonde, her own color, and had always harbored a wish to be a redhead, if only for a brief while. She convinced McCain to try it out and it worked beautifully with the personality of the character.
This is the first film in history to feature old Norse, an almost dead language. Howard McCain used an Icelandic professor to help translate the dialogue and to teach the actors how to speak the ancient language.
Quotes from Others
Director Howard McCain
Sophia Myles was ideal for Freya because she brought a sense of grit and edge and she inhabited this historical world well. I had seen TRISTAN AND ISOLDE and loved Sophia’s performance.
Co-Star Jack Huston
Sophia is a sweetheart
Quotes from Reviews
But it’s Sophia Myles who steals the show, her performance as beautiful but ballsy Viking girl Freya giving the boys a run for their money in the action stakes.
The Hollywood Reporter
Myles looks the part too even if her plummy English vowels and crisp consonants jar a bit but then again you’d be amazed if a daughter of John Hurt didn’t speak well.
John Hurt is excellent as the watchfully wise king, as are Sophia Myles as his feisty daughter and the other-worldly James Caviezel.
San Francisco Examiner
There’s a fair maiden involved, played with admirable gusto by Sophia Myles (Underworld)
But slowly the Vikes take a liking to the taciturn fella in the sleeveless suit made of funny fabric, especially Freya (Sophia Myles), the sword-wielding daughter of the king. Myles, who has a bit of a Kate Winslet air about her and was very good in last spring’s Scottish indie, Mister Foe, walks around in animal skins and gets off ridiculously campy dialogue without losing her grip. It’s an acting feat!
moviepilot.com: Darren Lucas
Sophia gives a solid supporting performance playing the new tough princess role.
Quotes from Sophia
It’s curious how I seem to get offered a lot of royalty! But Freya’s different. She gets her hands dirty. She gets to fight the Moorwen, which delighted me when I read that in the script. She’s more masculine than any other character I’ve played, and that I get to deck Jim with a roundhouse is impressive, but then again, I’m surrounded by so much testosterone in this film. The boys are great. Jack has become my best friend, Jim has been great, showing me up all the time with his push-ups, and then there is John Hurt. Just to be in the same room with him is a privilege.
I play Freya, a princess. My father is played by John Hurt. He’s in power at the time. The first time you see us on film, we have a huge sword fight – 120 moves. We trained for months for that.
I’ve just done a big Viking movie called Outlander, and I insisted on wearing this shocking red wig, so that if it does happen to become the biggest film of next year, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be mobbed in the street. I try to be a bit of a chameleon.
I was the one with a bare midriff, wearing fur and leather. Why is it the girl who always ends up wearing the least in movies?
I’ve been wanting to do an action film for ages because I’ve never been pushed to my physical limits before.