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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 thing."

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 firms.

"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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