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Promotional poster for Pathfinder
Directed by Marcus Nispel
Produced by Marcus Nispel
Mike Medavoy
Arnold W. Messer
Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Starring Karl Urban
Moon Bloodgood
Clancy Brown
Ralf Moeller
Jay Tavare
Russell Means
Music by Jonathan Elias
Cinematography Daniel Pearl
Editing by Jay Friedkin
Glen Scantlebury
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) April 13, 2007
Running time 99 mins.
Country USA
Language English, Icelandic
Budget $45 million[1][2]

Pathfinder (also known as Pathfinder: The Legend of the Ghost Warrior[3]) is a 2007 American-Canadian epic action film. Directed by Marcus Nispel and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Karl Urban, Clancy Brown and Moon Bloodgood. Pathfinder was rated R by the MPAA for strong and brutal violence throughout.

Pathfinder takes place in "Vinland" (the Eastern Seaboard of Pre-Columbian North America) and the story involves a fictional conflict between the Native Americans and Viking marauders from across the Atlantic Ocean, who have come to the Americas in search of colonization. The time period it is set in is around two centuries before the first known European contact with the New World, which academics generally agree occurred with Leif Ericson around 1000 AD.

The film is a partial remake of a Norwegian film from 1987 with the same title, or at least partially inspired by it. The earlier Norwegian film however takes place sometime later in history than the American film, and also the Norwegian version did not include Native Americans, only Norsemen, as it was set entirely in Scandinavia and not the Americas.

Pathfinder was a box office bomb and received a general negative critical reception, although the film did enjoy better DVD sales and reaction from fans of action films. The film has since been adapted into a successful graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics.[4][5]




The production companies of Pathfinder were 20th Century Fox and Pheonix Pictures[6], and the film was shot around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[7] The Pathfinder's stilt hut was constructed around a real tree which was found at the location and had to be reinforced. The design of the Native American huts was partly inspired by the opera house in Sydney, Australia.[8]

Actors wore hockey shoulder pads underneath their Viking costume to make them appear larger, fiercer and more imposing and intimidating. Also, despite knowing that the Vikings' helmets didn't historically have large animal horns on them, the film makers decided to add them in anyway. This was deliberate to work with the modern audiences who have an ingrained stereotype of what a Viking should look like in their mind.[9]

The Native Americans the Vikings encounter historically were the Beothuk people of Newfoundland in Canada. There is a large historical site around the Viking settlements in Newfoundland for tourists to visit named L'Anse aux Meadows.


Sometime around AD 800, a raiding party of Norsemen from Scandinavia led by an unnamed "great Viking warrior" arrived in the Americas with the intention of plunder and colonizing the "cursed" land. In so doing they planned on slaughter of the local population, the "Skræling" whom the Vikings considered to inferior, primitive and "true savages". Whilst slaughtering a native village, the Viking leader asks his son, only a 12-year-old boy, to join in on the carnage, and the boy refuses, and in return the boy is beaten and whipped. After their longboat is shipwrecked the Vikings are caught unaware and attacked by another native tribe, the "People of The Dawn", and massacred themselves. The sole survivor is the traumatized blonde-haired boy who was the son of the Viking leader, and who is discovered in the wreckage and taken in by a native woman who adopts him as her own son. The boy is named "Ghost" by the People of The Dawn, many of whom struggle to accept him because of his similarity to the paleness of the other "Dragon People".

Some fifteen years later, Ghost remains tormented by his dreams, which along with his different appearance to the other tribesmen, interfere with his ability to fully assimilate into the native community. He has feelings for a young woman from an allied tribe named Starfire, the daughter of Pathfinder, a man searching for a worthy successor. Ghost is nonetheless the only person capable of using a sword as he is still in possession of a Viking sword and still trains with it.

Whilst hunting and gathering with the group, a young girl from Ghost's tribe wanders off, encounters a scouting party of a new group of Viking raiders, and is attacked. She escapes back to the village but is followed by the Vikings. They raze the village and kill nearly everyone, except a few tribesmen whom they want to murder individually in "duels". Ghost arrives back at the village too late to save the villagers and sees his adoptive father murdered by Gunnar, the Viking leader. The Vikings are bemused as to Ghost's European appearance, yet decide that he may be less of a "primitive" and more of a challenge because of this, and so make Ghost duel nonetheless. Ghost's opponent Ulfar is taken unaware by Ghost's ability to use a sword, as swords are unknown to the natives, and Ghost maims Ulfar by cutting out his eye, and escapes. Injured by an arrow during the pursuit, he hides in a cave where he is found by the allied tribe's hunting party. They bring him home, and the warriors discuss taking the initiative against the Viking invaders. Ghost, however, informs them of the savagery and ferocity of the "Dragon People", who are said to be demons incarnate. Ghost warns them that their wood and stone weapons are no match for the metal armour and blades of the Vikings. Ghost advises the villagers that their only chance of survival is to flee, and he departs to take on the Vikings alone.

He finds that he has been covertly followed by a mute admirer. In an abandoned village, they set a series of traps. Starfire, meanwhile, has chosen to leave the tribe and finds Ghost and his colleague. The three kill the Vikings off individually, stealing armor and weapons. Pathfinder, like his daughter, also finds Ghost and joins the fight. The hunting party of the tribesmen accidentally set off one of Ghost's traps themselves, and are massacred by the Vikings. Eventually, both the mute and Pathfinder are killed in brutal fashion, and after making love Ghost and Starfire are captured. Gunnar recognizes Ghost as the son of a Viking, and tells Ghost that he knew of his father and admired him as a great warrior. The Vikings threaten to torture Starfire if Ghost will not betray the location of other villages, so Ghost agrees to help the Vikings.

Having gained the Vikings' trust, Ghost leads them along a dangerous mountain path. Gunnar insists that everyone be tied together to reduce the risk of members falling off the high cliff, and the Vikings do as he says. Using a sling, Ghost then creates a domino effect so the entire string of Vikings falls over the cliff, all tied together: only Gunnar cuts himself free in time, coldly killing his lieutenant Ulfar in the process. After a duel on the mountainside with Gunnar, Ghost deals him a fatal blow, leaving him hanging over the cliff edge, held only by a necklace. Gunnar asks for death by the sword, which to him is the only honorable way of dying, and pleads for such a mercy by saying he is the last of Ghost's kind in the land. Ghost coldly replies "You're not my kind" and breaks the necklace off Gunnar, letting him fall to his death instead of an honorable death by the sword.

Ghost returns to Starfire with Pathfinder's necklace, thus making Starfire the new Pathfinder after her father. Starfire gives birth to a blonde-haired son. Ghost assumes his position as the Coast Watcher, bravest of their tribe, charged with watching over the coast in case the Vikings ever return.

Graphic novel

The film was adapted into a graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics.[10][11]


The film received generally negative reviews, with an 11% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on over 60 reviews, although the film's action sequences were praised.[12]

The film earned just over $30 million worldwide, failing to recoup its $45 million budget.[13]


See also

External links



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