Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Barbarian mirth: Ronal the Barbarian

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Had lots of fun, a few nights back, watching Ronal the Barbarian, a Danish animation movie released in 2011.
It was the perfect end to a few weeks spent re-watching old sword & sorcery movies1, and a wonderful discovery.

The 90 minutes feature is basically what Pixar would do if Pixar movie characters were allowed to wear next to nothing and say f#ck a lot… and it is absolutely a hoot.

The plot: in Metalonia, the barbarians descendants of fabled hero Crone are feared musclebound battle-ready slayers – and also the missing element evil Lord Volcazar needs to summon a powerful demon-lord.
When all the barbarians are captured by the evil mastermind, Ronal – a weakling, geeky barbarian – has to go on a quest to save his tribe and, as he’s at it, the world.
Ronal hates quests – they are just a way to get killed, he says.

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Anyone who ever sat through a game of Dungeons & Dragons will be familiar with the set-up of Ronal’s quest – from the mandatory brawl in a tavern to the gathering of hardy companions, to the magical sword of the long-dead hero, to the final confrontation with the end-level boss.
Writer/director Thorbjørn Christoffersen throws in all the in-jokes and references possible, and we’ve all been there: Ronal the Barbarian’s band of heroes includes Alibert, a fat metalhead bard, formidable shield-maiden Zandra (she can only fall in love with the man that will defeat her), and the frankly disquieting metrosexual elf Elric.

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The bad guys are heavy on the fetish gear and short in smarts, the barbarians are all musclebound blockheads.
And Lord Volcazar is one of the best bad guys ever to grace a sword & sorcery story – and is also Darth Vader with the volume pumped up to eleven.
And there’s also a bit about Ronal and Alibert being captured by a tribe of air-headed, sex-starved amazons (whose queen is voiced by Brigitte “Red Sonja” Nielsen in the original2).

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So, because of the sexual innuendos, the dirty words and the abundance of exposed butt-cheeks, this has been described as a film unsuitable for children – and yet it is so catoony, silly and obviously tongue-in-cheek, that I can’t really see any danger in it.
On the other hand, Ronal the Barbarian is as teenager-friendly as any classic metal LP – it’s loud, rude, politically incorrect, sometimes embarrassing, silly and over-the-top.
And quite entertaining, all things considered.
The story works, the jokes and visual references are silly but fun, and we can actually care for these characters, and their quest.

Worth checking out, if nothing else to remember that taking ourselves too seriously is a mortal sin. A sin that Ronal the Barbarian does not commit.


  1. John Milius’ Conan, and then The Sword and the Sorcerer, Dragonslayer, Beastmaster, Hawk the Slayer and Krull… expect posts on the ones I did not already discuss. 
  2. and indeed, many suggest the subbed version is better than the dubbed one, because of the original voices being pitch-perfect. 
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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Barbarian mirth: Ronal the Barbarian

  1. Presumably based on James Bibby’s Ronan the barbarian stories, so may be films for next two books in series too

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