Bring on the Viking: Pål Sverre Hagen Stars in "Kon-Tiki" and "Ragnarok"

Bring on the Viking: Pål Sverre Hagen Stars in "Kon-Tiki" and "Ragnarok"
Norway expects: Nicolai Cleve Broch (left) and Pål Sverre Hagen in "Raganarok"
(© Carl Christian Raabe / Fantefilm Fiksjon AS)

There’s a strong possibility that not one, but two Norwegian films could become crossover hits in the United States in the near future. Both of them star the 32-year-old Norwegian stage, film, and television actor Pål Sverre Hagen. Among those watching casting developments in Hollywood will be Alexander Skarsgård, if not Viggo Mortensen.

In the Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee “Kon-Tiki,” which the Weinstein Company opens on April 26, Hagen plays the ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, skipper of the eponymous balsa wood raft that sailed from Peru to the Tuamoto islands in the Pacific in 1947. The picture was directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning.


It will be followed by Mikkel Sandemose’s action-adventure film “Ragnarok,” which was acquired for American distribution by Magnolia Pictures at the Berlinale’s European Film Market on the strength of a three-minute promo in February. Magnolia, which will open it following its release in Norway on October 13, today issued a trailer.

“Ragnarok” suggests a cross between “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (which Jules Verne invested with Norse and Icelandic lore), with a little bit of “The Lord of the Rings” thrown in.

Hagen plays Sigurd Svendsen, a contemporary archaeologist who is obsessed with the Oseberg Viking Ship, which was excavated by the Norwegian Haakon Shetelig and the Swede Gabriel Gustafson in 1904-05.  

Svendsen discovers an inscription in the ship, written in runes, that translates as “Man knows little.” When he matches it with runes found on a stone from the north of Norway by his friend Allan (Nicolai Cleve Broch), he is persuaded they comprise a map – and the key to the cataclysmic events of “the Ragnarök” (“Twilight of the Gods”) described in Norse mythology, notably the 13th-century Poetic Edda. These events lead to the submersion of the world and its subsequent rebirth.

As a result, Svensdsen, accompanied by his two kids, Allan, and another colleague, mount an expedition to the wild lands between Norway and Russia where, no doubt gratifyingly for the movie’s potential audiences, what transpires is unimaginably terrifying. It sounds like Mordor all over again.

Below: The first trailer for “Ragnarok”