Mel Gibson is making a Viking movie. The movie doesn’t have a title yet, but William Monahan is writing the script, and it will star Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh, and the movie will be shot entirely in period languages. That means Leonardo DiCaprio will most likely deliver his lines in Old Norse or perhaps Old English (depending on whether he’s playing a Viking or an inhabitant of a town that is being pillaged by them).
Apparently, for Gibson, the idea of making a Viking movie in Old Norse isn’t a new idea. He told Collider.com that “The very first idea I ever had about making a film…my first thought about ever being a filmmaker was when I was sixteen years old and I wanted to make a Viking movie. And I wanted to make it in Old Norse.”
Meanwhile, on CHUD.com, he explains the rationale behind using the languages of the period for the movie:
“I want a Viking to scare you,’ he said gleefully.’I don’t want a Viking to say, [Tony Curtis style] “I’m going to die with a sword in my hand.” I don’t want to hear that. It pulls the rug out from under you. I want to see somebody who I have never seen before speaking low guttural German who scares the living shit out of me coming up to my house. What is that like? What would that have been like?’
Some of the movie will no doubt be in Old English, but don’t expect to be able to understand any of it without subtitles. To give you an idea of how different Old English is from the language we speak today, here’s a sample from Beowulf (via Wikipedia):
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
In the modern English we know and love, that translates to:
Listen! We have heard of the glory of the Spear-Danes, of the kings of the people, in the days of yore, [and] how those princes did deeds of glory.
It will be interesting to see these ancient languages on the big screen.