Prince of Jutland (Royal Deceit) (1994)




Director:      Gabriel Axel.

Starring:     Gabriel Byrne (Fenge), Helen Mirren (Geruth), Christian Bale (Amled), Brian Cox (Aethelwine), Steven Waddington (Ribold), Kate Beckinsale (Ethel), Tony Haygarth (Ragnar), Freddie Jones (Bjorn), Tom Wilkinson (Hardvendel), Saskia Wickham (Gunvor), Brian Glover (Caedman), Mark Williams (Aslak), Andy Serkis (Torsten), Philip Rham (Aelfred), Ewen Bremner (Frovin).

based on original sources, a young prince, after discovering that his father has been murdered, vows to avenge his death and regain the crown 



Spoiler Warning:

Jutlland, an ancient Danish Kingdom.  The men of the village meet together.  Their leader Fenge asks them by what yardstick do we judge a king?  He says the only think his brother has over him is that his brother is older than he is.  Some of the men say they will join with Fenge.  Fenge now asks Ribold if he will join with him?  He joins with Fenge.  Another man says he will not murder their rightful king.  Ribold and Fenge kill the man.  Another man says no to Fenge and he too is killed. 

Amled throws a spear into a wild boar killing it. His father tells his two sons, Amled and Sigurd, that they have done well.  Father is King Geruth.  At dinner the two sons act out their hunt and the kill for all present.  Fenge says that the hunting of boar is too tame and only suited for boys.  A real man hunts and kills bears.  So a bear hunt is suggested for tomorrow. 

The hunting party leaves. Fenge and his henchmen go to the King and they knock the King out with a log to the back of his head. They tie the King's hands together and take him to the gallows.

The King's sons see the start of the hanging from a distance and can't recognize the condemned man. Hencham Ragnar says the men are just hanging some thief. Amled wants to know who the thief is, but Ragnar only says he doesn't know who the thief is. He tries to distract the boys by telling them they better get after that bear they recently saw. (The bear was just a man in a bear suit.)

The King tells Fenge that he will live a coward's life and die a coward's death.

Amled and Sigurd ride up to the gallows. Meanwhile, Fenge gives the order to hoist the King off his feet. Sigurd sees what's happening and tries to kill Femge, but Ragnar kills him with a knife to the boy's back. Amled now understands that his life is in danger, and he pretends that he has suddenly gone mad. He crows like a rooster. Fenge falls for the act and figures that Amled is no longer a threat to him.

Back at home Amled acts like a dog. Geruth cries over the loss of her husband and son, while Amled just keeps barking. Meanwhile, Fenge has another henchman cut his arm so it bleeds enough to look like a nasty cut received in battle.

And now Fenge goes in to comfort Geruth. He pretends to cry as he says that Hardvendel was such a loving brother. He then says he blames himself:  "If only I could have gotten there sooner." Ragnar, he says, is the only one who saw anything. Now Fenge blames the deaths on the men that he killed earlier, Bodvar and Bjarke. By the time Fenge got there, the father and son were dead and Fenge could only save Amled.

Fenge now pretends he is going to kill himself for he doesn't want to live. He asks Geruth to kill him with his knife, but he knows she will not do that.

The villagers are called together. Fenge gives the funeral oration for the King and his son. And he shamefully announces that Geruth will be at his side always as his wife and the people's Queen.  The murderous henchmen take the crown and cape from the dead King and put the items onto Fenge.  Now the bodies are burned. 

Amled keeps pretending he has gone mad.  He says he's a thief because he has stolen something.  He has stolen a goose, but then much more than that.  He has stolen the King's crown.  One of the henchmen tells Amled that he hasn't stolen either thing.  Amled feels with his hands for the crown on his head, but it's not there.  So he shouts out that someone else has stolen the King's crown. 

Fenge asks Ribold if maybe Amled is pretending to be mad?  Ribold says he should have killed Amled when he had a chance.  They decide to test Amled about his sanity.  They take him out to where there's a pretty woman.  They leave him there alone with the girl.

Amled tells the young woman to tell the King that all Amled did was bark at her and crow like a rooster.  (brief nudity)  She agrees.

Fenge asks the girl what Amled did and she tells him what Amled told her to say.  Fenge asks if there was anything more?  She says no. 

Amled and the girl now have a good laugh at Fenge's expense while they literally take a roll in the hay.  (brief nudity)  Ribold comes into the barn to check on Amled, who covers the girl with hay and crawls over to the ladder up to the loft.  When Ribold starts to reach the top, Amled knocks him out with a log to the head.  Later, Ribold tells Fenge he can't remember what happened to him. 

Fenge takes most of his henchmen and some women with him to visit an apple farm.  They want to see if Amled might tell his mother the truth if he thinks he's alone with her.  The problem is that Amled sees that Ribold is staying behind. 

Amled takes his mother into their small house.  He starts talking about rats again and starts hunting for them.  He goes under one of the beds and starts stabbing the ground under the bed.  But then Amled pushes out from under the bed Ribold who has already been stabbed in the chest.  Amled now stabs him again making sure the rat is dead.  He now throws Ribold's dead body in the pig enclosure for the pigs to eat.  

When he returns to the house, mother asks him what has he done?  He turns the question back onto her:  "You mother, what have you done?"  Mother senses that her son has regained his sanity, but Amled tells her he never lost his sanity, and he wants to know why does mother have eyes for Fenge, the man who killed their King?  He says she was in bed with the murderer of her husband and his father. 

Now Geruth says Fenge will never be in her bed again.  She then asks Amled to avenge her violation. 

Fenge and his crew return.  They look for Ribold, but they can't find him.  Fenge bangs on Geruth's door, but she won't open it.  Fenge sends his men out to look for Ribold.  One of the men comes back with pieces of Ribold's clothing he found in the pig trough. 

Fenge knocks on Geruth's door again.  This time she opens the door.  He tries to kiss her but she turns away.  He says she is denying him, and she says, yes.  Fenge gets mad and leaves the home. 

Amled's girlfriend is now pregnant.  (brief nudity)  Fenge goes to see the girlfriend and discovers the truth of what he thought might just be a rumor.  He tells his men that Amled is sane.  So they are going to send him on a long trip to England.  There he will see Fenge's friend, the Duke of Lindsay. Torsten and Aslak will go with him.  They are not to kill Amled.  They are to tell the Duke of the situation and the Duke will know what to do.  Then the men will return without Amled. 

Amled and his men take off for England.  Ragnar sneaks up behind Amled's girlfriend and kills her.  Amled sees all this happen and, of course, is terribly upset. 

On the voyage by boat, Amled examines the messages written on pieces of wood that will be given to the Duke of Lindsay.  He uses his knife to make some changes in the messages. 

They reach England and the Duke's castle.  Torsten and Aslak run to the castle and they give the messages from their King to the Duke. 

Amled arrives and acts sane.  The two men with him start barking to make Amled start barking, but Amled is done with pretending to be insane.  The Duke has his son Alfred take Amled to his room.  The Duke now reads the two henchmen the message from their King.  "From Fenge, King of Jutland, to his friend the Duke of Lindsay.  Take good care of Amled, my brother's son.  He is accompanied by two men, whose names are Aslak and Torsten.  Make sure that they are hanged for the traitors that they are.  My brother's son is gifted and clever, but too youthful and trusting in his choice of companions."  The two henchmen are taken away to be hanged. 

They hold a dinner to honor Amled.  They toast to him.  The daughter of the Duke seems to really like Amled.  He asks her father more about her.  He then asks the Duke where are his two companions?  The Duke takes Amled to where the two men are hanging from the ropes around their necks.  Now the Duke says he will pay twice the blood money for killing the two men.  Amled tells the Duke to make it thrice the amount.  The Duke agrees. 

Amled goes out horse riding with the Duke's son and daughter.  The daughter is accompanied by her companion.  The riders see the army of the Asmirs riding toward the castle of Lindsay.  They ride back to tell the Duke. 

The Duke takes his forces out to fight the Asmirs.   The Duke fights the enemy, and returns with a bloodied army and not many men left..  So Amled asks for five volunteer to combine with his small band of men to raid the Asmir camp. 

They take two horses belonging to the Asmirs.  They then go to the battlefield and prop up the dead bodies on the dead horses. 

In the morning  the Asmirs see the Lindsay army of dead men through heavy smoke.  They hesitate to attack.  This gives the Lindsay forces times to kill many in the rear guard of the enemy.  Many of the Asmir forces now decide to retreat.  So now the Duke of Asmir says he will have one on one combat with Amled.  Amled accepts the challenge and manages to kill the Duke of Asmir.  The defeated army leaves all its weapons behind and goes home.  Amled returns to the castle a real hero. 

He goes off with the Duke's daughter Ethel. They kiss.  But now he has to tell Ethel that they have to go home.  So Ethel marries Amled and goes to Jutland with him.  They go to the home of a friend of Amled.  The friend says that the new King is having a funeral celebration for the death of Amled. 

During the funeral celebration, Amled makes his appearance. That's one hell of a surprise for Fenge, who tells Amled they were told that he was dead.  Amled says that some people say that King Fenge killed Amled's father.  He sends his mother to his friend's home. 

Everyone starts leaving the celebration hall except for the King and his henchmen. 

Now Geruth meets Ethel.  She kisses Ethel. 

Amled gets the three henchmen drunk. He then wraps them up in blankets so tight and secured that they can't get out of them.  Now he sets fire to the hall. 

Now Amled goes to challenge Fenge.  Amled kills Fenge by throwing a knife into this chest.  He goes outside to watch the hall burn with the four men inside it. 

The next morning the village is called to gather together.  Mother the Queen places the King's crown on Amled's head.  Amled introduces his new wife to the crowd saying that she's his Queen. 



So this is the basis for Shakespeare's Hamlet.  It's rather a thin tale to hang a major theater play on, but then again Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest writer of the English language.  Jutland (Denmark) is a large, mostly Scandinavian, peninsula that juts out from Northern Europe toward Scandinavia.  Much of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein is part of the Jutland Peninsula. The three Danish administrative regions are:  North Jutland, Central Jutland or Northern Schleswig (Slesvig).   [The last adjustment of the Danish–German border followed the Schleswig Plebiscites in 1920 with Denmark's regaining Northern Schleswig.]

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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