THE 13TH WARRIOR
About The Production
"When you approach a period film, you have to recreate everything," explains director/producer John McTiernan
"When you approach a period film, you
have to recreate everything," explains director/producer
John McTiernan. "If we were doing an action sequence on a
street in Los Angeles, we would just pick the location and fill
in the blanks. But with this film we have to fill in every single
The filmmakers did extensive research into the time period they
were depicting and also took committed effort to use similar materials
and means of construction for the environment and clothing used
in the film. Yet they were also aware that the goal of their work
was to create the background for an action feature film and they
chose not to be enslaved strictly within the confines of their
own research findings.
"The designs for the buildings and the costumes and the weapons
used are not all exactly historically accurate," says novelist/producer
Michael Crichton. "This is, in part, a fable and so our wish
was to give it the right flavor and to capture the essence of
the time period."
"We were mostly concerned that we stayed accurate to the
geography of the imagination," relates John McTiernan. "One
of the best examples of how this concept plays out is with the
costuming for the warriors. These were twelve pretty rough guys
who made their living as mercenaries, traveling all over Europe.
Contemporary audiences bring their own connotations to interpretation
of costuming. For instance, there was no notion that these warriors
were men in tights. Even if a piece of costuming might be historically
accurate, it might have been emotionally wrong. Our aim was always
to create an authentic feel and environment for the story, and
one that supported the depiction of the characters and the action."
Principal photography for Touchstone Pictures' "The 13th
Warrior" began on location in British Columbia, Canada. However,
the search for the ideal location to shoot the film began almost
two years earlier.
Much of the action of the film takes place in the Norse kingdom
of King Hrothgar, and so McTiernan began his scout by looking
for that principal environment.
"My notion was that these people lived in a rain forest surrounded
by huge trees," begins McTiernan. "Modern day Norway
has farms everywhere and no original forests left. To me, that
looked too soft, and not raw enough. I imagined that Norway at
that time was not unlike the Pacific Northwest is now.
Serving as his own pilot, McTiernan flew over hundreds of miles
of coastline and eventually found the spot he was searching for
on the north coast of Vancouver Island, near Campbell River at
Elk Bay, overlooking the Johnson Strait. The 200 acre site included
old growth forests of cedar and fir trees, as well as a 20 acre
area that recently had been harvested by local forestry management
"The location was surrounded by 50 miles of forest in every
direction and that was the world I was trying to depict,"
explains McTiernan. "These humans' homes existed in a tiny
pocket in the middle of a vast, unknown, frightening and probably
dangerous world. There is a humorous expression in the story,
'The deeper you go in the forest, the more things there are to
eat your horse.' And it was sort of a funny way of saying that
it is scary out there.
"That kind of an isolated environment is a very different
place," continues McTiernan. "The people who lived in
that world would also think and deal with each other differently.
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