It’s Vikings versus alien in ‘Outlander’ (IANS Preview)

January 3rd, 2009 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) Blending myth with sci-fi and taking alien monster movies to a next level, Hollywood director Howard McCain’s forthcoming venture “Outlander” weaves the legend of Vikings with pop culture, pitting it against a threatening fiend in a gory tale of survival. Releasing Jan 23 worldwide, “Outlander” stars James Caviezel in the lead as soldier Kainan alongside Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Sophia Myles and Jack Huston.

Budgeted at $47 million and produced by Barrie Osborne, the film is written by Dirk Blackman and McCain and boasts of an estimated 580 visual effects shots.

Shot in the freezing temperatures of Halifax, Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada, “Outlander” is set in the time of the Vikings. It is the story of Kainan, a soldier from another world, who tumbles down from space into the majestic fjords of ancient Norway.

However, though he does not know it, accompanying him is a bloodthirsty creature known as the Moorwen that ravages the Viking world, killing everything in its path.

As a result, Kainan forms an unlikely alliance with the primitive but fierce warriors by combining his advanced technology with ancient Iron Age weapons to kill Moorwen.

“‘Outlander’ is a full-blown epic with all the trimmings - the sea, under water flexography, a CGI creature, a Viking village, animals, children, everything,” McCain said in a release.

Throwing light on the monster, he said: “My people call it a Moorwen. Believe me, the first time I saw one, I didn’t know what I was looking at. It was just a smudge of light in the darkness…it kills men, beasts, everything - and it smells like death.”

Not many know that the nemesis for the film comes from an Anglo-Saxon heroic epic poem “Beowulf”.

McCain was inspired to write “Outlander” in 1992 when as a student at the New York University, he came across an issue of Archaeology magazine that had a rebuilt Viking boat on the cover.

Though he conceived the story of the film then, it didn’t seem appealing to him at that time and he deferred it until 1998 when he met Blackman, who re-designed the story to carry science fiction elements and re-identified the characters to distance them from their ‘Beowulf’ fashion.

“At that time, ‘Lord of The Rings’ (movie) hadn’t come out. So, the idea of doing something like ‘Beowulf’ and treating it 100 percent straight on wasn’t a popular idea in Hollywood. Everybody (until ‘Lord of the Rings’ released) thought that stuff (epic fantasy) was not going to work in the marketplace,” he recalled.

Talking about the movie’s “Beowulf” elements, McCain explained: “For a guy like me and for my writing partner Blackman, ‘Beowulf’ is the progenitor of all western monster movies. You look at James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ - they all have their roots back in ‘Beowulf’.

“The story of a mother monster, a baby monster or a Viking has become embedded in so many ways in pop culture. And science fiction was our way of buying into that so we gave the story the science fiction twist. Dirk and I really like mixing genres. So, we even coined our own phrase for the film - a sci-mythic,” he said.

Distributed in the US by The Weinstein Company, the sci-fi action adventure is being distributed in India by Behind The Scene.

The movie will simultaneously also release in Hindi with the title “Ek Aur Kurukshetra” and is being dubbed in Tamil and Telugu too.

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